A rabbi (Stiller) and a priest (Norton) both fall in love with a beautiful yuppie gentile (Elfman). Of course, the priest is sworn to celibacy and the rabbi can’t marry a shiksa, so both holy men are tempting a fall from grace. The romantic comedy, says Norton, ”is also about faith… the ways in which irony and faith don’t go that well together.” Faith drives the buddy story behind the story, too: Nearly three years ago, Norton convinced Stuart Blumberg – a friend from Yale then unhappily toiling as a TV writer – to ditch plans for Harvard Law School and work on this screenplay.
”The straight world,” says Norton, ”was holding out the golden key, and Stu stuck with what he knew he wanted to do.” Their movie was put in turnaround by Columbia before landing at Disney, with Blumberg a constant presence on set. ”You need both of them,” says Elfman. ”Stuart pulled out the charm and the laughs, and Edward was coming from a completely logical storytelling [direction].”
He didn’t lack inspiration. ”Mel Brooks came by our set one day,” recalls Norton, ”and I told him one of my favorite lines was this thing he said: Tragedy is when I cut my little finger. Comedy is when YOU fall in an open sewer and die.” BUZZ FACTOR: 6