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  • Most of the negative reviews you see for "Don Verdean" are the same as the negative reviews for "Gentleman Broncos." It all boils down to one basic idea: "This movie isn't enough like other movies I like." Professional reviewers and users alike miss the boat on these movies because they want them to fit in a neat little package. You'll hear a lot about how they didn't feel the movie worked as a straight comedy, or straight drama, or that mixing biblical jokes with more adolescent jokes doesn't work. They are missing the point. This is not meant to be a single genre, or even really a mix of genres, instead it is an examination of characters, ideas, and themes.

    Unlike many other movies, "Don Verdean" (and "Gentleman Broncos," for that matter) is not looking to work as a whole, indeed these movies reject the idea of balance and chemistry as proscribed by mainstream films. Instead, DV is about about the details. Each moment of the movie has been engineered, largely without a thought for the other moments. In the Hess world, if something is interesting that's reason enough to include it, regardless of how it fits together with other pieces.

    It's not inherently worse than other films (in fact, you'll see tremendous talent in the film-making, the acting, and the script); it's just a completely different approach. So see "Don Verdean," not because it's more of what you already like (and have) but because it isn't.
  • kr9866414 December 2015
    Leaving the theater, the general feeling was "meh". Possibly based on Yiddish origin, it's a general shrug of the shoulders meaning neither good nor bad.

    The best way to describe this movie is to say it's not funny enough for a comedy, but not serious enough for a drama. Rather than combining words and calling it a dramedy, I'd suggest keeping the same words but flipping the order, calling it a coma. The movie just never seem to get going. If intended as a light- hearted story, the laughs were just too few and far between, even though the premise itself was humorous. Meanwhile, the basic story of a Biblical archaeologist down on his luck was just a bit too silly for a drama. I'm a big fan of Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, and Danny McBride, but this wasn't a great vehicle for any of them.

    It's a shame, because some aspects of the movie were very well done. The cinematography was fantastic, for example. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad movie. It just didn't do much for me. Your mileage may vary.
  • Huge fan of Sam Rockwell so I was excited to see this flick. He plays the title character a Archaeologist specializing in finding artifacts that prove the Christian faith is real, but under pressure he becomes a con artist and gets over his head keeping the con going.

    Danny McBride and Jemaine Clement (of flight of the Concords fame) give the quirky comedy to Rockwell's straight man. Both men give me some laugh out loud moments. While Will Forte who is also in the movie is good for just a few giggles here and there.

    The story was actually really cool as it becomes very outrageous when the devoted Christian starts to go a little too far to keep his con going.

    It is unfair to compare Don Verdean to Napoleon Dynamite, but I can't help it after finding out the same guy directed both. I'd say Don Verdean had more story and is strengthen by Sam Rockwell's performance with McBride and Clement supporting him. It has the same style of charm that makes all the characters interesting to watch.

    Plus it really is good for a few laughs.
  • 'Don Verdean' is the newest film from Jared Hess. Director of 'Napoleon Dynamite', 'Nacho Libre', and the upcoming 'Masterminds'. Needless to say, Hess is a wonder child of offbeat comedies that really don't have anything to do with anything. So, when I sat down to watch this film, the story came as a pleasant surprise. 'Don Verdean' seems to be Hess's first foray into legitimate, cinematic storytelling. Unlike his older films that are made to feel like a home video (in a sense) Verdean actually employs some surprisingly good cinematography to help tell its story. It's no Roger Deakins but this film actually looks like some effort was put into shot composition.

    We follow Don Verdean (Rockwell) as he sides with a local church to try and hunt down religious artifacts. Artifacts that they believe, if found, will drive people to their church. As Verdean finds artifact after artifact the church he is employed by grows restless for a BIG discovery. Goliath's skull big. Feeling the pressure, Rockwell takes matters into his own hands. A robbed grave later, Don Verdean makes the "discovery" of a life time and his life spirals down from there.

    The film still has that unmistakable quirkiness that Hess has built himself on but 'Verdean' proves that he is making strides into making noteworthy films. Aside from the films relatively impressive look the film is definitely a Hess movie. Its got the same unique comedy and ill timed character moments that make his other films classics.

    But 'Verdean' has something his other films didn't. An ensemble cast. With Rockwell as the title character, Clement as his companion, and Forte as the films villain this should've been a knock out. But, unfortunately it isn't. It still has the offbeat comedy that many have come to love from Hess but it sacrifices a lot of it in the name of a story line.

    There are multiple moments in the film where we get a deadly serious scene that are devoid of humor. Obviously you have to know when to let off the comedy gas pedal but for the first half hour of the film we barely get a laugh or two. It takes to long to actually get into the meat of the story. A story that, in fact, is pretty hilarious and ripe with religious commentary. But it makes the mistake that many first timers do, it takes to dang long to get off and going.

    And, like many movies that are set up like this, 'Verdean' ends in a very contrived way. The film is moving a great pace and suddenly it's over. The conclusion comes out of no where and threw me straight out of the film. Like its rocky beginning, 'Verdean' can't seem to figure out how to end in a natural way. It makes the mistake of pushing its characters one way instead letting their personalities take them in a realistic way.

    Yet, its story is surprisingly compelling. Living in a state where a church is literally on every corner, I may connect with this film more than others. That being said, I think 'Don Verdean' raises very valid points about what we as human beings believe in and how we jump between what's the most popular at that time. It displays how we seem to be so invested in theatrics that we forget to even think about what is being said. Without spoilers, there is a scene involving a press conference that is particularly effective.

    It's nothing that hasn't already been said. But 'Don Verdean' approaches it in such a unique, monotone way that it just works. It makes use (more or less) of its great cast and delivers some hilarious commentary on religion. Its unfortunate that the film sacrifices its best quality in order to artificially build this film. It may not be the Hess film that many expect but it's an impressive stride forward in storytelling for him.
  • "The tireless efforts of Don Verdean will continue to bless millions everywhere." Biblical archaeologist Don Verdean (Rockwell) has started to fall on hard times. He used to speak to packed crowds but now the audience is dwindled. When he is approached by a local pastor wanting to inspire his congregation Don once again begins to find precious holy relics. Wanting to truly inspire Don does something that changes everything. I thought this movie was very very funny. I have loved Sam Rockwell for ever and he was a great choice for this role. The movie was written and directed by the same guy that did Napoleon Dynamite so you should expect that kind of humor going in. The dialog is as witty and ridiculous as is the events but that's what makes this movie so much fun to watch. Overall, stupid and hilarious, if you liked the humor in Napoleon Dynamite then check this one out. I really liked it. I give it a B+.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It is uniquely funny, and even totally hilarious when Jemaine Clement lavishes his Hebrew brogue on the viewer. The movie is a universe in itself, and not just the story of one man Donald Verdean, a preacher turned conman. The whole Mid-West or Bible Belt is caricatured in such a way that you can only smile at the fondness contained in the implied criticism. It is never mean. Jared Hess rules! I'd been a fan since NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. I relish the sight of his little tribe, starting with Rockwell and Clement, and the way those guys make you believe in second degree, totally unbelievable tales. Way to go!
  • Having lived in an area that has experienced religious artifact fraud that led to murders I have a special appreciation for this film. It was tactfully sarcastic, so gentle in the telling but got its point across. It would offend no one but you understand. Almost like the most beloved American writer would have handled it a hundred and thirty some years ago. Mark Twain didn't care too much for religion either.

    This film is like a slow burning fuse. The first two thirds are mildly funny and if you saw it in a theater it would have caused you to make a few polite chuckles. But the last third, I was laughing so hard I was crying. Like a good joke, you have to set it up to make the punch line work.

    I saw it by myself, but hours after I saw it I would remember parts of it and start laughing all over again. My wife kept asking, "What are you laughing about?"
  • Don Verdean Sundance Film Festival Director: Jared Hess Since the sleeper success of 2004's Napoleon Dynamite, Jared and Jerusha Hess have had an interesting track record. Regardless of how their work is received by audiences and critics, they have maintained a cinematic style that is, to say the least, unique. Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) is a biblical scholar and archaeologist who has built his career on excavating and preserving artifacts from the good book —the film's opening scene features an antiquated documentary in which Verdean tracks down the shears that Delilah used to cut Samson's hair. After his career slows down, he, his Israeli fixer Boaz (Jemaine Clement), and his research assistant Carol (Amy Ryan) agree to a contract with Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) to track down more artifacts in order to keep his congregation from joining that of Pastor Fontaine (Will Forte), a former Satanist turned Christian. As pressures mount, Verdean begins to compromise his standards in pursuit of "filthy lucre," as Boaz puts it. From an acting perspective, the performances are great. Rockwell and Clement have great comedic chemistry, and Amy Ryan grounds the film with her genuine sincerity. That being said, there is still something indulgent in this film— almost like team Hess has packed it full of inside jokes that only resonate with themselves. It might be time for them to come out and play with the rest of us. –Alex Springer
  • Biblical archaeologist Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) uses scant evidence to back up his claims of relic discoveries from the Holy Lands. For years, he struggles to sell his books and videos with his long-suffering assistant Carol Jensen (Amy Ryan). Pastor Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) eagerly backs their search for more relics to energize his failing congregation. Verdean has just the right piece. Local contact Boaz (Jemaine Clement) had discovered a pillar of salt that Verdean claims to be Lot's wife. Denis Fontaine (Will Forte) is a rival pastor. After the pillar, Verdean and Jensen set off to find Goliath's skull.

    Filmmaking couple Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess uses their odd sensibilities to satire the American religious industry. This film has plenty of their deadpan wackiness. There is a bit of fun laying out this weird world. Clement and Rockwell have some fun. After awhile, the fun fades. It rambles around. It's hard to care about anybody in this movie. Amy Ryan comes closest to being the rooting interest. The comedy wears out and interest fades.
  • In this movie Sam Rockwell plays the titular character Don Verdean who is an amateur archaeologist hunting down religious artifacts. When Don is asked to retrieve the skull of Goliath things spiral out of control.

    Although the jokes did not always work that well the writers did a great job at implementing them in the movie as most of the dialogue based jokes came very naturally and never really felt out of place. The story itself is where the movie falls apart though. Characters almost never really act out of character and it really felt as if they were living in that world instead of on a comedy set. However it quickly becomes very clear that the story is artificially set up. In fact the events that happen in the end of the movie seems so out of place and sudden that it's clear the screenwriters didn't really know where to go and just needed an ending.

    The one redeeming factor about the movie is the acting. Although I think their acting qualities were severely underutilized Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement and Amy Ryan really put down a believable performance. The chemistry between the actors/characters does seem to be there but the director does not seem to be able to capitalize on that.

    I do think that the recipe behind 'Don Verdean' could have provided a pretty fun comedy movie. With a better director and a better story the movie could have been a pretty good comedy, sadly as of right now it is just a well acted flick paired with a very mediocre story with some good laughs here and there.

    My rating: 4/10
  • What a great movie! "Don Verdean" is the type of movie we need more of these days! Great actors, great plot, hilarious lines, very interesting subject matter! This movie did not have a dull moment. All of the actors are perfect. The script is perfect. We enjoyed every minute of this movie. We will definitely watch it again. Sam Rockwell is great in every movie. What a multi-talented actor. When watching him as Don Verdean, it's difficult to believe he is the same actor in "Seven Psychopaths" (another great movie). This film shows how easy it is to fool people who want to believe so desperately in something. Thanks, Netflix, for adding this gem to your lineup! A++++++++!
  • I had to review this because I can't believe all the hate it's getting. It's not gonna win any awards but I can appreciate the mocking of many mindsets and it never takes itself to seriously. Well worth a watch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's so pleasurable to watch Sam Rockwell play odd, but sweet characters. He really portrays this one in a lovable, humorous and sophisticated manner. You can tell he did the spadework, and I truly enjoyed embarking on this journey with a good-hearted man who falls down a rabbit-hole and excavates a grave too deep to dig himself out. And it's nice that we're taken through a major turning point in his mediocre career -- at one point, something happens and there's no going back, and we're with him, and all unravels before his eyes and he's stuck in something he'd never expected. As often with these indie movies, the cast is structurally adequate and nicely picked. The dialogue is at times witty and at times intense in a dramatic but still lighthearted way. The sudden twist with one of the secondary characters in the movie really made the cut for me. Amy Ryan and Jemaine Clement did a stunning job. Overall, I recommend it to anybody, it's a cute and fun flick.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Don Verdean is a satirical film about a seemingly well-meaning but fraudulent biblical archaeologist who "finds" artifacts in Israel that confirm biblical stories and reassure the faithful. But he's running short of funding so he connects with an evangelical preacher from a large and prosperous church who commits to bankrolling him in his "digs" in the Holy Land in exchange for his church making the initial presentation of the "archaeologist's" discoveries. The preacher is a (literally) born-again Christian who, in a previous preacher-life, was killed in a car crash with his hooker girl friend, but in his current manifestation presides over what appears to be a megachurch and has married his hooker girl friend. The first "find" our archaeologist brings back to the preacher is the pillar of salt remains of Lot's wife.....with a penis. The church is scandalized until our imaginative "archaeologist" tells them that Lot's wife was a hermaphrodite which was just as deserving of a hellish doom as the sodomites deserved. I think you readers get the picture by now.

    There were a number of genuinely funny lines in the film, and it's quite entertaining to watch. The preacher and his reformed hooker-wife get to play very amusing roles, and they're quite good in them. Where the film goes off the track, so to speak, is about half way through when the plot gets a little too unwieldy and a little too silly. There's a second preacher who has a strong rivalry with our initial preacher, and that conflict does not seem to add to the story or to the satire, even though he's the only one who wants these "finds" carbon-dated. For me, the humor level fell off during the latter half of the film.

    The film seems to hint that some discoveries in biblical archaeology may be misused as religious idolatry, and we see both church members and religious pilgrims rhapsodizing over the physical remains of Lot's wife and Goliath's skull. I wonder if the film would have had a tighter focus and a more streamlined presentation if the satire of religious idolatry was emphasized with more precision, and with more conflict among the believers in Don Verdean. Are these folks gullible because they want confirmation of scripture or do they need a physical, tangible object to bolster their faith? Didn't Paul say: "the things which are seen are temporal; the things which are not seen are eternal."
  • princess-vezna24 November 2018
    It is a good, light comedy with a few laughs. The plot is preposterous but it does the job. It may offend religous people but oh well. Worth a look.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) is a freelance Biblical archeologist who has made claims of great discoveries. He has fallen on hard times, particularly because his finds have come into question. One congregation headed by Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) and former escort wife (Leslie Bibb) agrees to fund Don to find artifacts. Don finds himself going from from an honest man finding questionable artifacts to a con artist.

    The film has some quirky characters that were not fully developed to their potential. There is a serious issue of fake artifacts, but the film doesn't seem to address that. In one moment it appears to be taking a swipe at Christian denominations who believe forged artifacts are real, yet we are introduced to Carol (Amy Ryan) an honest person who epitomizes the good in people.

    I kept waiting for the big laugh, but it never happened. I liked the idea, the script was weak.

    Guide: No f-words, sex, or nudity.
  • Prismark1015 August 2017
    Don Verdean wants to be a wacky satire on religion but falls short as it is not funny nor sharp enough despite some nice understated performances from the leads.

    Sam Rockwell is biblical archaeologist Don Verdean who with the aid of his Israeli contact Boaz (Jemaine Clement) has illegally excavated supposedly rare religious artefacts from dubious sources.

    However Verdean is on hard times, his congregation has become smaller and it has become harder to shift his books which his assistant Carol Jensen (Amy Ryan) has noticed.

    Pastor Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) with his former hooker wife has also seen attendance at his church fall from a rival former satanist now a born again Christian pastor Denis Fontaine (Will Forte.) He contacts Verdean with a promise of funding in order to find more relics in the Holy Land.

    Verdean and Boaz cut corners and finds a big pillar of salt that is supposed to be Lot's wife and then Goliath's skull which Fontaine becomes suspicious about. Then a Chinese billionaire contacts them to find the holy grail.

    Rockwell gives a restrained performance, we sense he is a small time con man making a dishonest living from the gullible. It is only when Boaz gets greedy that Verdean finds himself coming up with more and more lies which become increasingly elaborate.

    However the film moved along nicely, it had heart but the satire was way off base.
  • One of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life. A complete waste of time. Do yourself a favour and avoid this bomb at all costs. The acting was pathetic, the dialogue was witless and the plot, if you could call it that, just ended without an ending. You could pack this loser in dry ice and it would still stink. Just having Danny McBride and Sam Rockwell in the movie should guarantee some laughs, so one can only imagine the Herculean task of eliminating any trace of humour from this movie. Another link in the chain of horrible movies by Jared Hess. Max Verdean was easily the worst effort yet by Hess and that is no mean feat. It was nothing more than 90 minutes of my life that I'll never get back.
  • I have seen just about everything Jared Hess had made, that is how I found the film, and if you like him you will probably love this. Jemaine Clement is also a favorite of mine from his Flight of the Conchords days and he really made the film for me. There are obviously a lot of weird elements to this film, but that is the charm of Hess, everything he makes is pretty odd and slow really. I thought the characters were great, Danny McBride and Will Forte were also very funny. This isn't something I would watch with just anyone, it is a very particular humor that doesn't click with all but I watched it with my friend and we were dying laughing throughout. The end got a little too serious for my liking but then the very last scene was probably the funniest part to me and really finished it off nicely. Great comedians involved, raw idiotic humor, perfect Wednesday night to me! Good job Jared, I liked it a lot more than Gentleman Broncos.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Don Verdean is a movie about a biblical archaeologist whose heart is in the ballpark of right place. But one act throws him in the vicious cycle of lies. It is a movie you can get into and get out quickly and the script does give you couple of hearty laughs along the way. The story is good too. But at the end of it all, the movie is a sheer waste of talent. I personally sought the flick for its cast itself in spite of the poor reviews. Sam Rockwell, Will Forte, Jemaine Claiment and Danny McBride are actors who can single handedly enact finest comedic material. Support from Amy Ryan and Leslie Bibb should have iced up the act. But the story loses steam a few minutes into the film and veers into banality by the second act. The events look forced and the humour gets generated only from dialogs. For example, when Don covers up for Goliath's head everything in that sequence looks concocted. The natural flow is absent thereafter and story seems to be forced towards an ending. Overall, the film deserves a one time watch- for its cast at the least.
  • This film tells the story of a supposedly renowned archaeologist, who is a specialist in unearthing biblical artefacts. As a church turns to him for reinforcing peoples faith, it turns out that he is not what he appears to be.

    The story seems very religious at first, which I admit have put me off. After a while, the story drifts into another direction, and the religious elements fade. It becomes a story of integrity, deceit and comedy. There are a few moments which gives me a chuckle or two, but overall the film is not overly engaging or entertaining. I do think the research assistant deserves more respect and empathy though, and I feel quite sorry for the way she is treated in the film. I would not have watched it if it was not for Sam Rockwell.
  • Whatever Don Verdean is, it certainly doesn't feel like a comedy, despite what the premise, cast and trailer may make you think.

    What Don Verdean certainly is, is another big old flop from Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess who here, much like his previous film Masterminds, squanders a vast array of comedic talents on material that is well suited to the bargain basement bin, not oddball comedy.

    Going for strange over outright belly laughs, Don Verdean never seems willing to make the most of its potentially humorous examination of its religiously tinged world and its abundance of oddball characters and when the likes of lead Sam Rockwell and the normally scene stealing Danny McBride can't get the laughs rolling along at a steady pace, you know your films material just isn't happening the way in which it should be.

    On somewhat of a career lull since his tremendous turn in low budget sci-fi Moon, Rockwell in particular seems both dull and bored in his turn as religious archaeologist Don Verdean. Imbuing Don with nothing but a luscious lathering of facial hair and a bad wardrobe, Rockwell can't get going and while the likes of McBride, Amy Ryan and Will Forte get little moments within the film, their roles are to slight to improve the overall success of Hess's misguided journey.

    Nothing that happens within Don Verdean, whether it's overseas digs, awkward press conferences or uninteresting love plots, the film feels forced, no better exemplified by Flight of the Concords star Jermaine Clements Borat-lite turn as Israeli conman Boaz, which ends up being a performance that has to be one of the most grating in recent memory. Had Hess been in tune with his film, a performance such as this would've never seen the cold light of day.

    Don Verdean might well have been a funny film had it been done differently but as it stands this almost laugh free experience is weird for the sake of being weird and when you've forgotten to bring the funnies to the weird party you're hosting, blame must lay at the feet of Hess, a director that once showed so much odd-ball promise, only to now be wasting the time of us and his cast members in dire ways such as this.

    1 large human skull out of 5
  • The Hess team started their career in a very atypical fashion. With the starting surprise success of Napoleon Dynamite and the continued yet not quite as well received Nacho Libre they made their mark. Their next film Gentlemen Broncos failed to wow me as the first two and showed they couldn't keep producing the same effective comedy as they had before. Don Verdean had a similar issue. The first two thirds of the film didn't even make me crack a smile. In the beginning it mainly poked fun at the world of American Christianity most of which was excellently targeted on the faults, hypocrisy, ridiculousness, and phony parts of organized religion. But to me this came across in more of a bitter/angry sort of way rather than comedic. It just didn't work well and didn't have intrigue, nothing but a bait-less hook. The last third of the movie, on the other hand took a turn for the better. The story became interesting, the writing improved, the continual wit and hilarity that I saw in the Hess's previous projects out poured. While none of the acting was bad, Jemaine Clement as Boaz gave an especially entertaining performance. The beginning gave a bad taste in my mouth, but I'm glad I stuck around for the end.
  • Brilliant film. Extremely funny 10/10. Humorous throughout doesn't fall flat at all and ends perfectly.