Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum) and Kate Newell (Kelly Preston) work at the Good Buy Shopping Network, a home shopping channel run by John McBainbridge (Robert Loggia). Sales have been down over the last two years under Ricky's management, and Kate was brought in to come up with new ideas. Ricky views Kate as a threat and she expresses her dislike for him as well. However, John has given Ricky an ultimatum to increase sales, or lose his job.
While out driving one day, Ricky and Kate come across a charismatic strange man who calls himself "G" (Eddie Murphy). G is unusual in that he wears white robes and is perpetually happy and smiling. He seems to sense how troubled Ricky is, and follows them back to the Good Buy studio. G wanders onto the set of an infomercial, and while he is on the air, the number of calls with customers wanting to buy something increases. Kate notices this and gets G his own spot on the network selling items. Meanwhile, the mutual dislike between Ricky and Kate fades and they begin to express romantic interest in each other.
G's infomercials are mostly spontaneous anecdotes or thoughts about life, but customers connect with him and even the slowest-moving items begin selling out. While staying at Ricky's house, he enters a party of businessmen and displays his talents by making a Rolex watch "disappear" and curing another man of his fear of flying. Ricky begins marketing G's name on other items to increase sales. He wants to give G his own show, but the stressful work environment and throngs of fans who want to meet him begin to take its toll. G is no longer the happy, inspiring man he once was, and when Kate tries to convince John to let G leave the network, he refuses and she quits out of contempt. Ricky reaps the benefits of the increased sales, receiving a large promotion and a new office. However, the rewards seem hollow due to G's lethargy and Kate's rejection of him.
On the night of the premiere of G's new show, Ricky searches himself and decides that letting G go is the right choice. He announces his decision live on air to the studio audience and to his boss. Kate hears of his decision and forgives Ricky, racing back to the studio to be with him. They have a romantic reunion on the air, and the show is ended. Afterwards, Ricky and Kate say their goodbyes to the fully recovered G, who wanders off into the distance to continue his pilgrimage.Eddie Murphy as G
Jeff Goldblum as Ricky Hayman
Kelly Preston as Kate Newell
Robert Loggia as John McBainbridge
Jon Cryer as Barry
Eric McCormack as Scott Hawkes
Jennifer Bini Taylor as Hot Tub Girl
Adriana Cataño as TV hostess
Eugene Levy as Guy on background TV (uncredited)
Morgan Fairchild, Betty White, Florence Henderson, James Brown, Soupy Sales, Dan Marino, Willard Scott, and Nino Cerruti appear as themselves.
According to Splitsider, John Candy was signed on for the role played by Murphy back in 1993, a year before the former's death.
Holy Man was a major box office failure, as it grossed $12,069,719 in North America, compared to its budget of over $60 million.
The film received largely negative reviews, with criticism aimed at the script and acting. Based on 50 reviews collected by the film review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, 12% of critics gave Holy Man a positive review, with an average rating of 3.6/10.
In June 2009, Murphy referred to Holy Man as a "horrendous movie". Although he did not identify the film by name, he mentioned it on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien as a reference to the film he starred in featuring a cameo with singer James Brown. In November 2011, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Murphy outright called Holy Man a horrendous movie, though he later backtracked and said, "It's not that bad, but it's pretty bad."