- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2006

“Conversations With God” is an infomercial disguised as a feature film.

“God,” one of several books written by Neale Donald Walsch, explores the dialogue between a down-on-his-luck radio host and his Creator. It’s the kind of movie red-state types wish were made more often — steeped in respect for a higher power.

The filmmakers apparently had less respect for the cinematic art form. Hokey when it’s not laughably crude, “Conversations” shamelessly plugs Mr. Walsch’s best-selling books throughout its flashback narrative.

We first meet Neale (Henry Czerny, whose beard looks like it might flake off) onstage, talking about his flawed life and the spirituality that saved it. The action then travels backward to a time when Neale was out of both work and friends to help him. He’s overqualified and unemployable, and he ends up loitering at an unofficial park hangout for the homeless where he recycles bottles for spare change.

Semisalvation comes when he finds work at a small radio station. It’s all building up to his new life as an author, but little of it is convincing or compelling.

Mr. Czerny conveys the author’s plight with admirable restraint, but screenwriter Eric DelaBarre refuses to show us the sins that led to his downfall. That feels like a cheat, and it makes Neale’s public-speaking sequences feel even more like ads for a motivational DVD line.

“Conversations With God” should be heaven-sent, but instead, it’s earthbound and lifeless.

* 1/2

WHAT: “Conversations With God”

RATING: PG (Some mature themes and mild language)

CREDITS: Directed by Stephen Simon. Written by Eric DelaBarre based on the books by Neale Donald Walsch.

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

WEB SITE: www.cwgthemovie.com/

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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