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Just Like Heaven - DVD Review


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</script></div>{/googleAds}As far as romantic chick-flick comedies go, Just Like Heaven is a bit less shallow than most. Not "deep" by any means, but it does contain enough pleasant surprises, interesting conundrums, and genuinely tender moments to put it on a higher level within its genre. It tries hard to live up to the "comedy" aspect of its genre classification, but it works best when it stays away from slapstick antics.

Elizabeth (Reese Witherspoon) is a workaholic ER doctor shilling for the attending physician opening at her hospital. Although her 24-hour shifts put her on the fast track to success, her inner spirit is left empty due to a serious lack of self-nurturing. She needs a "life" in a bad way but while driving to meet a blind date, Elizabeth is suddenly hit by a car and falls into a deep coma.

David (Mark Ruffalo), a slovenly loner who seems to be nursing some serious self-deficiencies of his own, unknowingly sublets Elizabeth's apartment. With no visible means of support and with as much drive as a 13 year-old, David spends his days lying on the couch, drinking beer and generally moping about. As the apartment fills up with empty beer bottles and greasy pizza boxes, Elizabeth suddenly shows up, insisting the apartment his hers and demanding that he leave immediately.

David is determined to get to the bottom of what he perceives as a simple misunderstanding, but he realizes things might not be as they seem when he notices Elizabeth's uncanny ability to mysteriously appear and disappear at will.

Finally convinced that his unwanted visitor is merely the ghost of Elizabeth, David borrows a concept from 1990's Ghost and decides to help her "cross over" to the world of the living by employing a number of humorous ghost-busting services in hopes of ridding his apartment of her pestering presence. Among these ghost buster types is Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder as an employee of an occult bookstore who makes Elizabeth and David look beyond the immediacy of their differences in hopes of finding a solution to their problem. Initially, Heder brings a much-needed injection of adrenaline to the film, but the rush quickly dissipates once it becomes clear that his appearance is for novelty purposes only. Although his character serves as a useful plot device, Heder himself detracts from the experience. Fair or not, he's not an occultist aiding David and Elizabeth... he's Napoleon Dynamite appearing in Just Like Heaven. It takes a clever hand for a movie to recognize the fact that there are such things as movies, but here it just brings unnecessary attention.

As David and Elizabeth hit the streets of San Francisco searching for Elizabeth's true identity, the two begin to have emotional feelings for one another. But an interesting turn of events brings them to the realization that their time together is limited... unless they can find a solution.

Witherspoon and Ruffalo are absolutely tremendous together. The weight of the entire film rests squarely on their chemistry. Because they are believable as a couple; and because director Mark Waters makes us truly care about their plight, we are able to see past many of the film's shortcomings. It has a very sappy ending and it falls into numerous formulaic trappings throughout (including a slapstick dash through a hospital while attempting to steal a dead body), but Waters keeps us on our toes by injecting some original moments and numerous funny bits of dialogue. With such successes as Freaky Friday and Mean Girls under his belt, he's quickly supplanting himself as the king of the romantic comedy. Just Like Heaven will most assuredly do well at the box office thereby continuing his streak of hits.

A sign of a good director is when he can make you enjoy a film in spite of its shortcomings. It's more difficult to make an audience like an offensive movie, but the clever writing, well-executed concept and charming lead performances of Witherspoon and Ruffalo raise Just Like Heaven slightly above the heads of its genre contemporaries.


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