Chris Willman
May 28, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Father Joe

Current Status
In Season
Tony Hendra

We gave it an A-

As a left-leaning humorist with an appetite for the jugular, Hendra, a former ”National Lampoon” and ”Spy” editor (and the manager in ”This Is Spinal Tap”), would seem an unlikely candidate to write a ”Tuesdays With Morrie”-style account of being mentored by a kindly Benedictine monk. Though Hendra finds ”startling parallels between…Second City and the City of God,” ”Father Joe” is full of contradictory serial conversions: As an intense teen he becomes devoted to Catholicism, only to adopt bitter social commentary as his religion after discovering the British comedy troupe Beyond the Fringe. Several decades later, suspense arises over whether the agnostic satirist and God will reconcile before Father Joe, their elderly matchmaker, passes on. As Hendra’s lifelong spiritual wavering comes to a head, seekers and skeptics alike will want to witness the photo finish.

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