Friday, November 11, 2022

Just Like Heaven

Movie Name:
Just Like Heaven
Year of Release: 2005
Director: Mark Waters
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Dina Spybey, Ben Shenkman, Jon Heder, Caroline Aaron, Ivana Milicevic, Rosalind Chao, Ron Canada, Willie Garson
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review
Following the success of "Mean Girls", director Mark Waters quickly returned with another comedy, only this time around with a bigger emphasis on the romantic aspect of it. "Just Like Heaven" follows the story of Elizabeth, an overworked and ambitious doctor who is on her way to get the job of her dreams in the hospital where she's currently stationed. She barely has time for anything in her life, however her sister sets her up on a blind date. On her way to that date, she suffers a dramatic car crash which results in her being in a coma. Into this narrative walks David Abbott, a landscape architect who has also been through a recent traumatic event. He's looking for a place to rent in San Francisco, and through sheer coincidence, uncovers a fantastic apartment that is only available to rent on a month to month basis. He's happy to take it on, and soon moves in. However much to his horror and surprise, Elizabeth starts appearing in the apartment all the time. It is her apartment he is occupying. She doesn't think she's a ghost, but she can't explain what's happening and can't remember what happened to her. They embark on a journey of uncovering what happened to her in the hopes they can both move on. 
"Just Like Heaven" tries to make a dramatic premise for a storyline into a "meet-cute" type of romantic film. And that turns out to be one of its biggest issues. It tries to make light of the fact that this character had a nearly fatal car crash, is lying in a coma (always looking great though), and its quasi ghost persona is roaming around trying to connect with someone she was meant to be with, while also saving herself. While Pedro Almodovar also tackled the premise of women in a coma in his wonderful "Hable con Ella/Talk to Her", his much more layered narrative allowed for those women to come to life by contextualizing who they were prior to their dramatic medical issue. Almodovar also built a series of relationships connecting those two women, which further explained how they related to the men in their lives and how they both had a web of connections that informed who they were. Sadly in this "Just Like Heaven", both characters are stunted puppets servicing some romantic comedy tropes (the same going for the supporting characters), never truly making these characters come to life beyond the very limited archetypes they represent. The cast tries their best to bring this story to life, with Reese Witherspoon once again playing the overachiever, Mark Ruffalo the disheveled yet sensitive romantic interest, Jon Heder the eccentric supporting character, and Donal Logue and Dina Spybey as the friend/family archetypes. Sadly it's a film that doesn't work, from the tone to the production itself, with some lackluster visual effects (and good luck finding an apartment that size available in San Francisco). One to skip.