(M) Sony DVD
When charismatic mega-church Pastor Dan Day (Pearce Brosnan, who doesn’t seem to be able to decide on one accent here) tries to cover up a terrible, incriminating accident in the presence of a congregation member, ex deadhead Carl (Greg Kinnear), things start to get increasingly out of hand.
Salvation Boulevard opens with a debate between Pastor Dan and atheist Dr Paul Blaylock (Ed Harris) that breaks no original ground whatsoever (I’ve seen countless better and more riveting debates on YouTube). Blaylock’s argument is promising but Dan’s lame rebuttal is the result of poor writing that serves only to introduce Carl.
From there, the film drops any intelligent or unique discussion of religious themes and descends into the realm of ridiculousness and black comedy as Carl discovers his pastor is not all he seems. His friends, and even his wife (a scarily devout Jennifer Connelly), side with Pastor Dan and Carl becomes caught amid a crossfire of myriad motives.
Despite boasting an impressive cast, most of the performances don’t make it from caricature to character and Jennifer Connelly and Marisa Tomei, usually fine actors, are over-the-top and annoying.
The exchanges between Carl and his straight-faced daughter Angie (Isabelle Fuhrman, Orphan) are almost funny and you get the sense that the two share the sole authentic relationship here.
Angie is the only one to evoke any kind of interest or sympathy (though Kinnear does his best) and you can’t help but feel sorry for the poor kid. I would have liked to see more of her.
Salvation Boulevard plays like an absurd, wannabe Cohen Brothers flick. Despite some interesting moments, one wonders if there is a point to this at all, other than to fire at the easy target that is religion.