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Goddess Of Love
(1988)

Director: Jim Drake
Cast:
Vanna White, David Naughton, David Leisure


As I think I have mentioned before, I like to daydream. Certainly, many, if not most of these daydreams involve myself in various situations that are a heck of a lot better than how my present life is. (But don't get me wrong - the work I do for this web site is extremely rewarding.) But occasionally, to add variety to my frequent daydreaming, I think about others. Most of those times I think about actual people I may have encountered during my life, or that I learned about one way or another (such as in the history classes that I took in high school.) I like to wonder about the various actions that I know that they have made, and try to figure out what motivated them to do what they did. Or sometimes I like to think about their private lives, when no one or no camera was around them. I'm sure other people think about other people in this manner too. But sometimes I get a little more adventurous. One thing I sometimes like to do is think about individuals who are more super than mere human beings. These individuals (if you can call them that) being, of course, gods. There are a lot of things that have gone through my head when I have thought about the possibility of gods. For example, I wonder why the Christian God seemed to be so frequently cranky and in the mood to wipe people out so often in the Old Testament, yet in the New Testament he seems a lot nicer and more forgiving. More often, however, I think about what it must like to be a god. If a god can do anything or know anything, would he or she get bored rather quickly? Sure, it may be nice to be able to do whatever you want, but I think in short notice anyone would find life quickly pointless. Unless, of course, they were so super powerful, they had the power to not get bored.

Another thing I think about when the subject of gods comes to my mind is the idea of a relationship between a mere mortal and a god. This has been a popular idea that almost certainly is older than the Bible itself. I think it's because just about any mere mortal finds the idea of an all-powerful god taking interest in them to be flattering. While I will admit that I can find the basic idea of a god taking interest in a human to be believable, there is one extreme to this idea that I simply cannot believe. And that happens to be the idea of some sort of romantic relationship between a god and a mere mortal. This idea has gone on for thousands of years, from the story of Zeus fathering several children with mortal women to the children's book series Percy Jackson. Yet despite its popularity, I cannot buy the idea. Why? Let me explain. Before you read any further with this review, I want you to grab your nearest portable Internet device, go to your local zoo, and then resume reading this review via your portable device. Are you at the zoo now? Okay, now I want you to go to the primate section of your zoo, specifically to the chimpanzee section. Are you there now? Okay, now I want you to take a look at the chimpanzees and whatever they are doing, whether it is scratching themselves or swinging on a tire swing. Don't those chimpanzees look so adorable that you want to have sex with one of them? Well, I am sure that if you are a sane person, the answer to that question would be a big "NO!" - despite the fact that chimpanzees share 99% of the same DNA that a human has.

I think you can see what I'm getting at. A god is so powerful, knowledgeable, and great in so many ways, so why would they lower themselves by having sex with a mere mortal? Especially since us mere mortals have so many flaws that make us far from perfect - just how chimpanzees Goddess Of Lovelook to us. Yet all the same, there have been so many stories from many cultures over the centuries of gods having sex with humans. I guess the reason is the one that I mentioned earlier - humans find the idea of a god having interest in them to be flattering. I have to admit that I might find myself flattered if I were in that situation. So even though I doubt it could ever happen in real life, the idea of a god/human romantic relationship is intriguing. Of course, the movie being reviewed here - Goddess Of Love - concerns that idea, but that was not the only reason why the movie had interest to me. Another reason was that Wheel Of Fortune's Vanna White played the title role. From game show hostess to a lead role in a fiction movie? That promised to be a train wreck that I could not resist seeing. White plays the title character, the goddess Venus. When the movie starts we learn quickly that Zeus (John Rhys-Davies, Raiders Of The Lost Ark), king of the gods, is angry with his daughter Venus because she refuses to marry the god Hephaestus. Instead, she has pursued romance with a number of mortal men despite all of them eventually dying. Zeus eventually decides that Venus should be thrown out of Mount Olympus until she has won the heart of a man without him dying on her. To make things harder for Venus, Zeus uses his powers to turn her into a statue. Centuries pass, and the statue of Venus eventually makes its way to a museum in Los Angeles. Around the same time that two thieves steal the statue, we meet Ted (Naughton, Big Bad Wolf), a young hairdresser who in a few days will be marrying his girlfriend Cathy (Amanda Bearse, Married With Children). Ted is taken to a dance club by his randy buddy Jimmy (Leisure, Empty Nest) to celebrate his last days of bachelorhood. The dance club also happens to be where the thieves decide to stash the Venus statue. While this is all contrived, it gets even worse when upon circumstances too dumb to get into, Ted puts the ring intended for Cathy on the hand of the statue of Venus. This act convinces Zeus to bring Venus back into goddess form. And once Venus is no longer a statue, and seeing the ring on her finger, she is determined to win Ted over despite his objections... especially since if she fails, she will not only become a statue again, but for all eternity.

Looking at Vanna White's resume through the Internet Movie Database, I discovered that White didn't have much of an acting career before Wheel Of Fortune - just a few bit parts in movies like Graduation Day and Looker. And after she gained fame from Wheel, she didn't have much of an acting career from that point on - in fact, most of the roles she was cast in involved White simply playing herself. You may be wondering if there is a reason for that. Well, from looking at her performance in Goddess Of Love, it doesn't take long to figure out why White never had a significant acting career. The best I can say as to what White brings into the movie is that she looks fairly good, though to be honest I have never found her to be as gorgeous as some people have made her out to be. But while she looks acceptable, she is otherwise hopeless in the role of a goddess. She seems very uncomfortable in front of the camera, for one thing. When she moves around, it's in a very awkward and stiff fashion, and when she is looking at one of the other cast members, she more often than not has a very vacant stare that you would associate with a blind person. But things are even worse when it comes to speaking lines of dialogue. Most of the time she says them in a very monotone fashion, even when her character is supposed to be experiencing great emotion like anger. The few times when she does manage to add some color to her voice fail miserably, the worse time being when her character out of the blue puts on a southern accent (!) as part of a disguise to hide her true identity.

In fairness to Ms. White, the screenplay for Goddess Of Love required her to constantly spout dialogue that is so awful that even an accomplished actress like Meryl Streep could not have delivered in a convincing fashion. Some examples of the awkward and/or just plain bad lines White has to speak include, "What a quaint abode!", "You love another. If so, I will crush her!", "I am fascinated by the colors that adorn the faces of your women," and "I'm not here for your cold roast chicken. I am here for your love." It's also possible that White was thrown by other poor writing regarding her character. The character of Venus is zapped into a statue less than three minutes into the movie, giving White almost no opportunity to see what her character was like before being resurrected in modern Los Angeles. And when Venus is resurrected, her personality wavers between two extremes. Sometimes Venus is smart enough to know things like how to open a locked door without a key, or how to drive a car. More often than not, however, Venus seems surprisingly dumb for a goddess, not understanding many modern conveniences or how modern society works. But White can take solace in the fact that every character in this movie is written to be an idiot. For example, take Amanda Bearse's character, who is the fiancée of the character of Ted. She happens to be a psychologist, so she should have a great deal of smarts with her. But when Ted starts to act strangely around her because of Venus' intrusions, she doesn't really see that anything is different or wrong about the man she has known for so long and loves deeply. Because of her unrealistic behavior - and the equally unrealistic behavior of the other characters - it's not possible to we the audience think of anything but contempt for them.

I realize that Goddess Of Love was written to be a comedy and not meant to be taken totally seriously, but all the same I think the movie could have been written to be a lot smarter. What if Ted saw the advantages of being in a relationship with a god and decided to exploit it for all it was worth? What if Venus liked modern society so much that she decided to become a Hollywood celebrity? I think you could mine the premise of this movie for more serious comic gold than just those two examples. But as it is, the makers of this movie thought that comic gold would be, for example, to have the two thieves (who are never named, by the way) dress up as fat women as part of their plan to steal the statue of Venus. Goddess Of Love, needless to say, has not one single laugh to be found in its script. It's not that much better when it comes to basic storytelling. There are certainly some nagging questions, like how Ted (who is a hairdresser) somehow owns his own home, or how Ted spends almost no time with the preparation of his wedding when it's only a couple of days away. The biggest problem with the story is how utterly slow everything unfolds. There is a lot of blatant padding, like the otherwise pointless scene when Venus gets Ted's credit cards and goes on a shopping spree. Nothing of real consequence starts to happen until the last fifteen or so minutes of the movie, and what eventually does happen is not worth the wait. Some technical goofs, like the appearance of the boom mike in one scene, are the icing on the cake. Goddess Of Love fails in every way you can think of, and is probably one big reason why Zeus and his cronies have not shown their presence to modern man for a long, long time.

(Posted February 4, 2020)


UPDATE: Laurent Garnault sent in this information:

"It's a mere detail but the idea of putting the wedding ring on the finger of statue of Venus comes from a short story of the XIXth century, Prosper Mérimée's La Vénus d'Ille (unless Mérimée cribbed the idea from an earlier source).

"A bridegroom in his cups puts his wedding ring on a recently-unearthed statue of the eeevil phoenician Venus and can't manage to pry it off, so in the wedding night the statue comes and strangles him (everyone is vainly looking for a rational explanation).

"From your review I understand it would have been a better movie than this one.

"Keep up the good work ! (I don't always agree with your reviews but they're always worth reading.)"

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See also: Amanda And The Alien, Bunny O'Hare, Making Mr. Right

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