Just Like Heaven

Director: Mark Waters

Reviewed By: Emily Taylor
From: Rexburg, Idaho
Age: 21
Reviewed on: 11/1/2005

WARNING: Review based on quality and desirability for all wildly hopeless romantics of the chick-flick loving female persuasion and all those guys that are in denial or could at least appreciate some good comedy. So anyone that doesn’t like romantic comedies but is instead devoted to complex, soul-searching, gritty realism dramas better not read the following.

But to the rest of you aforementioned hopeless romantics looking for something relatively clean (there is still a PG-13 rating and reasons why) and uplifting, this is it. It’s funny, romantic (of course) and a lot more original than I expected it to be. That can be a very rare combination. If you’re expecting another “Ghost” or a backwards “Angels Don’t Knock” and refuse to see this film based on those expectations, please immediately lose them or you will miss out on something good. Take it from me—it’s not what you think it is. And that’s where a refreshing dose of originality and some very different insight come in.

Elizabeth is a medical student devoted to her work and her patients, but has very little time for people who aren’t in lab coats or on gurneys. While there are a few signs of her beginning to realize an inner longing for some real companionship, the fact is that she is simply too busy, much to the distress of her older sister Abby. So Big Sis likes to occasionally set Elizabeth up with random guys. Unfortunately, the very night Abby has over the dinner the friend-of-a-friend whom she insists is perfect for Elizabeth, the poor girl is tragically hit by a truck. The worse part is that not only was this the same night Elizabeth earned a coveted residency the hospital, she was actually willing to meet the guy.

A few weeks pass, and Abby allows Elizabeth’s apartment to be rented out to David. Trust me, this is not Mark Ruffalo’s character from 13 Going On 30. We get more than someone cute and perfect. David is the type of guy you don’t know whether to utterly shun or drag in and nurture. He’s depressed and more than a little out of touch with society. All the poor guy wanted was a furnished apartment with a comfy couch where he can drink beer and eat junk food and pretty much ignore life.

However, Elizabeth isn’t ready to give up her apartment. Yup, she’s hanging around, in a surreal here-and-gone sort of way. At first David thinks he’s just crazy, and Elizabeth agrees—until she realizes that she has the talent of walking through solid objects. David tries everything to get rid of this spirit—including a holy water-sprinkling priest and some Ghostbusters knock-offs. But Elizabeth remains, and it soon becomes apparent she has no idea of who she is or anything in her life. David figures if he helps her remember, she’ll leave. 

Again, this wasn’t at all what I expected. I walked into the theatre thinking a cutesy ghost story with a simple plot and simple concepts. And while this isn’t terribly complex, it isn’t just meeting-a-ghost-and-doing-some-vengeance sort of thing. Real issues are brought up, and the very nature of Elizabeth is a new perspective on something not usually done in movies (at least romantic comedies). These issues are handled with just enough solemnity to make you think—and then given the right amount of off-the-wall humor to keep everything get too sad. I will tell you right now: one of the most hilarious scenes really should have landed David in prison for at least a year. But it was funny! The plot is tight, and everything comes together in that lovely way of romances. 

Then there are the characters: I already mentioned how incredible Mark Ruffalo is as David. Reese Witherspoon is perfect at brining out a work-a-holic spirit. And Abby… oh, but she is fun. How many mothers do you know will put their daughters in a room with a perky kiddie show, then chase down a guy with a cleaver? David’s friend Jack is another one to watch for: Most movie psychologists are so boring and serious, but this one is a partier. And hey, he wants his buddy to be happy. And yes, Napoleon Dynamite is in the movie. In fact, he steals the show. Jon Hedar triples Napoleon’s cool factor (putting this character nearing socially-acceptable) for a psychic who was one of David’s attempts to rid his apartment of the supernatural and winds up siding with Elizabeth. It’s a wonderfully quirky cast. 

Still, I must knock off part of star. The film is considerably clean, and it does support high morals. One of David’s neighbors comes to his apartment only to strip for him. We see nothing, and fortunately the action is deemed as inappropriate—but one look at a set of bare shoulders and we know what is going on. 

But the morals and lessons are still very clear in this movie. As I said, Nudity Girl and her plans are no way supported. That’s the only reference to sex. Rather companionship, family, and overcoming hardships are emphasized. There is nothing more satisfying than watching how David changes for the better. I can’t say too much without giving away plot points, but a controversy is brought up—and the movie supports our Church’s view. It’s all very uplifting—lots of warm fuzzies.

I can’t say enough about this movie. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, and I will definitely be buying it the moment the Wal-Mart people stick it on the shelf. I know all you manly man chick-flick haters would love to rip this film apart, but for the rest of you, here is a great, original story that is full of just the right values.

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