JUST LIKE HEAVEN
Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) is a dedicated doctor with no social life, working long hours at a San Francisco hospital. Coming home late one night, she is involved in an accident and when she eventually returns to her apartment, she finds it has been sublet to landscape architect David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo). David is trying to mend his broken heart, but can only find solace in a can of beer. He is startled when Elizabeth appears and disappears suddenly, and when he discovers he is the only one who can see her and she can walk through walls, he believes she is a ghost. Elizabeth, however, is convinced she is still alive and asks David to help her find out who she really is. In desperation, David finds an occult bookshop where Darryl (Jon Heder) has a library full of ideas.
Review by Louise Keller:
Stretching our imagination should be a stimulating experience, so never mind that the premise of Just Like Heaven borders on the incredible. After all, director Mark Waters made us believe Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan could swap bodies in Freaky Friday. And how could we ever forget Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost. But although this new ghost romance boasts the charismatic talents of Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, the script is outright clunky and the unsuccessful storyline trips itself up. The romantic premise of a man who has lost the will to live and the beautiful ghost who changes his life will attract young female audiences, but the payoff is small change.
The problem that writers Leslie Dixon and Peter Tolan face is how to make us believe Elizabeth and David's predicament. We warm to both characters (Elizabeth as a caring doctor in a busy hospital, and David is a recluse who is drowning his sorrows in beer), but the integrity of the story is at risk. There are too many lines that grate: 'I know something is not right. I'm walking through walls, you know.' And when it's time to steal a body from the hospital, the borders of credibility are stretched too far. The best moments are those that ring true, and when the relationship blossoms. Both Witherspoon and Ruffalo have natural charm and the fact that Witherspoon plays a ghost never stops the chemistry between the two. Watch out for Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) as the stoned, occult bookshop owner with special insight.
There are parts of the film that engage and others that are just plain silly. Pity. With a better script, Just Like Heaven just might have been a winner.
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JUST LIKE HEAVEN (PG)
CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Dina Spybey, Ben Shenkman, Jon Heder, Ivana Milicevic, Rosalind Chao
PRODUCER: Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
DIRECTOR: Mark Waters
SCRIPT: Peter Tolan, Leslie Dixon (based on the novel, If Only It Were True)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daryn Okada
EDITOR: Bruce Green
MUSIC: Rolfe Kent, Robert Smith
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cary White
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2005
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.