Movie Review: ‘Playing God’

John Thomas
PLAYING GOD – Hannah Kasulka as Rachel and Luke Benward as Micah.

Standing near a busy street corner, Rachel (Hannah Kasulka) pulls her guitar from its case and begins strumming a tune. A kind passerby drops a $20 bill in her guitar case and moves on. She is touched by his generosity and runs down the street to thank him. While they are talking, a man grabs her guitar and case and runs off. The passerby takes pity on her loss and offers her some hundred-dollar bills. She thanks him and heads home.

Once there, she removes her dark wig, tossing it next to her guitar case and calls out to her twin brother, Micah (Luke Benward). He is the guitar snatcher. She proudly shows him the money the stranger gave her and the watch she lifted from his wrist.

The two orphaned con artists were abandoned at a young age by their father and shortly thereafter their mother died. As the lives of such petty thieves often go, they live a comfortable existence until one day Frank (Michael McKean) knocks on their door. Micah owes him a long overdue debt of $100k – Frank will give him two weeks to come up with the money or suffer consequences.

Selling off a stolen watch for $1,500 isn’t going to help their situation much – they need to take more drastic measures. After a bit of research, Micah discovers a reclusive billionaire living on an estate outside of town. The billionaire, Ben (Alan Tudyk), is grieving the recent loss of his daughter due to a fatal automobile accident. He has been wandering the world seeking God for answers to his loss, or better yet speaking with Him – he wants to know why.

Micah has an idea and finally convinces Rachel they need to find someone to play God, get into Ben’s head and house and rob him. Ben has an extensive collection of rare coins worth millions. Who sounds more like God than their older buddy Frank (Michael McKean), who after serving time in prison, now manages a bowling alley. Frank needs convincing as well, but he too finally agrees to join them – so the planning begins.

They must first arrange a meeting between Ben and “God.” Once a rapport is established between the two, the cons need to find an accomplice to recon the mansion and help break into the safe – Ben surely must have one.

The first meeting between Ben and “God” goes fairly well, although Ben senses a scam. Micah needs to find out more to convince Ben, and when he does, he discovers Ben had previously been married with twins and was a substance addict. After being rehabilitated Ben remarried and started a new family and created his vast fortune.

Micah also finds a faded photograph he shares with Rachel of a young Ben sitting on a couch between two young children – a boy and his twin sister. The second meeting goes a little better than the first one as Ben is beginning to feel “God” will explain the reason for the fatal accident and maybe even allow him to speak with his daughter.

At the next meeting, while the safe cracker is trying to open the safe, “God” sits on a sofa in the living room with Rachel in a chair to his left, Micah opposite to him and Ben seated to his right. With tears swelling his eyes, Ben asks “God” if he can speak to his daughter through Rachel. Ben is finally able to speak with her.

Directed by Scott Brignac (Credits: Expiration Date, Speechless) this is a “should see” for an amusing crime-comedy adventure story that runs 95 minutes.



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