Saturday, March 28, 2009

Heaven Can Wait (1978) [PG] ****

Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) is the back-up quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams NFL football team. The team is winning, and Joe has been picked to start the next game. Then, while riding his bicycle down the mountain from his rural home, Joe is killed in a collision with a car.

At the after-life way station, he insists there's been a mistake, and refuses to board his transport to Heaven. The station manager, Mr. Jordan (James Mason) discovers that Joe's life was not due to end for nearly fifty years, and that Joe's inexperienced angelic escort made a mistake in not waiting for the event outcome. Joe wants to be put back into his own body but, unfortunately, it's already been cremated. To make amends, Mr. Jordan agrees to find Joe another athletic body; in the meantime Joe agrees to occupy the body of Leo Farnsworth, a wealthy industrialist, although his wife (Dyan Cannon) and secretary (Charles Grodin) are trying to murder him.

What Joe doesn't foresee, however, is falling in love with Betty Logan (Julie Christie), an environmental activist who wants Farnsworth to stop building an oil refinery. Joe needs Farnsworth's body to pursue Betty, but he also needs his old Rams trainer Max Corkle (Jack Warden) to get the body in shape to be a quarterback, and to get Joe a tryout with the Rams.

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie have terrific romantic chemistry together, the supporting cast is excellent, and the story's ending is positive, uplifting, and more than a bit ironic. In addition to starring, Warren Beatty co-wrote the screenplay, and co-directed the film, an outstanding effort that earned him 1979 Academy Award nominations in all three categories. If you enjoy films that explore the possibilities of a soul inhabiting more than one body - films like Chances Are and Heart and Souls - then you'll want to see Heaven Can Wait.

Labels: comedy, fantasy, football, romance

Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=71, viewers=66)

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