I guess I’m just not like most people. Too much of a pragmatist,
like my mother. After sitting through movies like The
Key, and most recently The Exorcism of Emily Rose,
I realize I am just not down with the supernatural. Where everyone
else is creeped out or scared I’m just . . . bored.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the batting average of romantic
comedies . . . which usually turn out to not have
much of either conceit. Especially when the word “Wedding” is
in the title.
So, you can imagine how I felt when I found out I’d have to
not only see but review the movie Just Like Heaven —
a supernatural romantic comedy. *grumble *
Although, after seeing the trailer for the movie I was almost
giddy because I knew it’d be the quickest review I’d ever write.
Check this out:
“I think I liked Just Like Heaven better the first
time I saw it . . . when it was called GHOST!”
There! All done.
Pop the cork and call it a day. Now I could go back to reading
Punisher comics and looking for Trailer Park Boys DVDs
Uh, at least that’s what I would’ve done except for the two
major flaws with that plan:
1. I actually have never . . . um, seen more than
20 minutes of Ghost.
2. When I saw Just Like Heaven, it didn’t remind me
of Ghost in the slightest.
THE PLOT (from the official Web site):
When David (Mark Ruffalo) sublet his quaint San Francisco
apartment, the last thing he expected — or wanted —
was a roommate. He had only begun to make a complete mess
of the place when a pretty young woman named Elizabeth (Reese
Witherspoon) suddenly shows up, adamantly insisting the apartment
is hers. David assumes there's been a giant misunderstanding
. . . until Elizabeth disappears as mysteriously
as she appeared. Changing the locks does nothing to deter
Elizabeth, who begins to appear and disappear at will —
mostly to rebuke David for his personal living habits in her
Convinced that she is a ghost, David tries to help Elizabeth
cross over to the "other side." But while Elizabeth has discovered
she does have a distinctly ethereal quality — she can
walk through walls — she is equally convinced that she
is somehow still alive and isn't crossing over anywhere. As
Elizabeth and David search for the truth about who Elizabeth
is and how she came to be in her present state, their relationship
deepens into love. Unfortunately, they have very little time
before their prospects for a future together permanently fade
Truth is, Just Like Heaven reminded me that there are
some movies that combine romance and the supernatural that
I do like. It’s so much more like the Steve Martin comedy
All Of Me than it ever is like Ghost. And by the
end it’s reminiscent of Heaven Can Wait (both versions),
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and most especially the Christopher
Reeve classic Somewhere In Time.
It’s a movie that I admire for the things it did right (the
script, the pacing, the casting; who knew Mark Ruffalo could
do comedy?!!), but even more so for the things it didn’t
do wrong. In the first scene we’re introduced to Reese Witherspoon’s
character, Elizabeth as an earnest, workaholic doctor. With
less than ten minutes until she’s ‘taken out,’ her character
is established as being likeable without seeming sappy or two-dimensional.
The hospital scenes have a casual authenticity to them, like
any episode of E.R..
The movie is also good about passing on almost all of the
more lowbrow and obvious gags. Most notably, it only sparingly
uses Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder as a spiritual medium.
He’s still something of a detached goofball here, but it’s just
enough to have the most comic effect and never annoying. On
the flipside, just as I groused about a great comic/character
actor like Donal Logue being squandered on only a bit part,
his character returns in the third act to deliver the best jokes
of the entire film.
In all honesty, the first act of Just Like Heaven doesn’t
seem like anything special. The jokes are funny but not hilarious.
It pretty much follows all the conventions of this type of movie,
but by the second act everything that seemed so inconsequential
starts to come together. It cleverly uses its ostensible predictability
to throw in some very well thought out unpredictable twists.
This should’ve been no big shock as it was directed by Mark
Waters, who so recently made enjoyable surprises out of such unlikely
movies as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday.
I don’t know that Just Like Heaven is enough to quell
the cynic in me from kneejerk-stamping of such movies as “chick
flicks,” but it’s definitely a “date movie” and a solid one
at that. Who knows? Maybe it will be enough for me to look at
the upcoming Ryan Reynolds flick, Waiting, with an open
You DO know I was kidding, right? Come on, have you seen
the trailer for Waiting? Please!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to some light reading.
Frank Castle has the Irish mob pinned down and his M-16 just
ran out of ammo.