I can’t help but think of the ‘80s sensational band, The Cure, when I hear this title. That song always make me smile.
Here’s a movie that I absolutely love! I know: I’m a sucker for these romantic comedies. This is very true, but I am even more of a sucker for romantic comedies with clever storylines! “Just Like Heaven” isn’t brand new, but it is a wonderfully sweet film. Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon star in this delightful film, and though Reese may look a little on the thin side, they were perfectly cast.
“Heaven” is directed by a man named Mark Waters, and I thought he did a splendid job. In fact, I was so impressed I decided to see if I knew any of his other work. Apparently, I must like Mr. Waters work quite a bit. His other films include the riotous “House of Yes” with Parker Posey, “Head Over Heels” (a guilty pleasure of mine) with Monica Potter, “Mean Girls” with Lindsay Lohan, and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” with Jennifer Garner (though I have not seen this one yet). I’m not saying that a Director completely makes the film, but whenever you recognize talent you should always check out what else they have done. You may just find some real gems that way.
“Heaven” follows the story of David, who is wallowing in depression and simply looking to be a couch potato. Interfering in David’s plan is the spirit of Elizabeth, who thinks David is a squatter in her apartment. David tries to help Elizabeth come to terms with her “condition” and Elizabeth helps David get over his depression. The story is clever in the most basic of designs. It can catch you off-guard if you aren’t careful. Mark Ruffalo brings a real tenderness to the depressive David he plays. You feel for the guy. Reese Witherspoon is dazzling as Elizabeth, literally personifying the neurotic, workaholic, control freak of her character. The real humor of this movie is the interaction between these two. They have a chemistry that is irresistible to watch. They banter like real lovers and some of their lines are truly priceless. Heck, I can’t even think of the bar scene and Elizabeth’s refusal to let David drink Scotch without cracking a grin!
Jon Heder (better known to most as Napoleon Dynamite) is a psychic that tries to lend a hand. Donal Logue is David’s friend and psychiatrist. Dina Waters (who happens to be the wife of the Director!) plays Abby, Elizabeth’s sister, and she is perfect! Even Rosalind Chao – who rocks, by the way – shows up as Elizabeth’s mentor! Needless to say, the supporting cast is incredible. They help elevate this romantic comedy into a category that very few can achieve: memorable.
Seriously, think about how many romantic comedies you’ve watched in the last 20 years. Now, list the top five that come to mind. The list probably reads like this: “When Harry Met Sally”, “You’ve Got Mail”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and 2 others that vary from person to person. Am I right? You see, romantic comedies have the problem of being memorable. They are almost always enjoyable, but rarely memorable. How come those 3 always pop up in that list? Answer: different kind of story, great acting, and characters that you REMEMBER.
I guess the most surprising element of “Just Like Heaven” is the clever little twists to the story. I think there are no less than 3 different MAJOR twists to the story. Each one makes a surprising impact in the most subtle of ways. I watched this movie the first time and kept thinking “now, how come other movies don’t catch you off-guard like that”. It makes the film twice as enjoyable, I believe. Furthermore, the comedy is perfectly timed and delivered in just the right way. Some romantic comedies overplay the humor and you don’t get the romance part of it. This film is NOT one of those. Elizabeth & David are very believable as a couple, which complicates things. I mean the movie wouldn’t be as successful if there wasn’t a problem. Most problems in romantic comedies though do not involve one half of the couple is a spirit! This is just one more reason why this film ranks above most of its class.
Earlier this year, Suzanne & I had a chance to go to visit San Francisco. Now, we can’t help but notice films that feature that city. This film actually features several streets and views that we experienced first-hand! There’s a great view of Coit Tower from Elizabeth’s apartment and several shots of the park in front of Grace Cathedral. We even had our “We were right there!” moment when Elizabeth & David are seen at the top of a street that is RIGHT near Lombard Street (something ever visitor to Frisco should see!). You can see Alcatraz in the background and I remember taking pictures of “the Rock” from that spot! That just added to my appreciation of this film.
I must have watched “Heaven” four or five times before suddenly the other weekend it dawned on me: Suzanne hasn’t seen this movie yet! I knew she would enjoy it, but I didn’t expect her reaction. She loved, loved, LOVED it! It was rather enjoyable watching her get animated over certain scenes in the movie, sitting right beside me. Of course, she always tries to learn what is going to happen next (and her guesses are more often right than not) – and she was surprised! The twists to the story got her too! Clearly, this film is not only worth watching, but also owning.
So, clear a space on your shelf for “Just Like Heaven” because this one is a keeper!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE