Wednesday, April 4, 2007


After having caught the end of JUST LIKE HEAVEN several times, I finally got to see the beginning yesterday and ended up watching it to the end, and totally being suckered by it, wet eyes and all.

I thought someone mentioned this film when I was doing a romantic movies list.

But it was my little boy who turned me on to it. Like me, he digs movies with spirits and ghosts and miraculous coincidences.

Though this flick was full of that, it starred Reese Witherspoon (and Paul Ruffalo, it is Paul isn’t it?) who I’m not crazy about any more (though I loved her when I first saw her in EDUCATION was it? The terrific movie with Matthew Broderick where she plays a driven student, and in LEGALLY BLONDE too, but him I never got, he always seems to be acting underwater or in slow motion, though most women I know like him a lot so he obviously has something)…

Anyway, I dug the film and it’s definitely on my favorite romantic film list now.

And MILLIONS. Me and my boy caught just the end of it, but we’d seen it before and were delighted to catch that much of it. Another wet eyes movie.

The younger boy in it reminds me of my youngest son—maybe that helped me fall for it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a delight.

It made me think of an old black and white English film that was one of my favorites for decades, though I haven’t seen it since it first came out sometime around 1960 if I remember right.

Called WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, it’s nothing like MILLIONS, except it takes place in Britain, has a child as the star, and involves strong religious beliefs, or should I say spiritual, that prove warranted, despite the misunderstandings that proof is based on.

If I remember correctly, the earlier flick stars Haley Mills, and Alan Bates plays the part of the deus ex machina. If it’s available on video or dvd, I highly recommend it, even though I haven’t seen it in years I remember almost every scene in its simple but lyrically powerful story.

Don’t you just love the availability of so many great films to us now? One of many things I’m grateful I lived long enough to experience, despite other things I wouldn’t mind having missed.


AlamedaTom said...


It's Mark Ruffalo, not Paul. And, I think you are not giving the guy his due. He was super in at least three films I can think of: You Can Count on Me, In the Cut, and Collateral. In Count On Me, he was the maladjusted brother of Laura Linney and gave a great performance. In In the Cut he was a really screwed up cop with sexual hang ups to go with Meg Ryan's equally fucked up libido, and displayed a gripping magnetism. And, in Collateral he was a cop again, but this time with a really cool look to him to the extent that he ate up the screen every time he was on it.

As for Reese, the movie you are thinking of was "Election." I first got into Reese when I saw "Freeway," which has become a bit of a cult film these days. She was very young then, but acted her ass off in that one. And, of course she did win an Oscar for playing Johnny's wife in "Walk the Line."

Nina said...

I have to comment because I am totally shocked that you enjoyed Just Like Heaven. I have major issues with this movie, as I do with most romantic comedies. That does not mean that I haven't watched Just Like Heaven, and most of the other romantic comedies that I hate, several times. I think I've seen most Meg Ryan rom-coms at least five times each. ugh.

Just Like Heaven chugs along as mediocre until its finish at which point it becomes, in my opinion, crap. It opts for the easy out so many other romantic comedies do. The "we've created a situation too complicated to resolve logically in the last ten minutes of this film, so we've decided to sum it up with an improbable, adolescent, fantasy-like quick-fix." Any believable romance created prior to that moment is destroyed. I think that screenwriters and directors ought to keep things simple with storylines like these. Why can't she remember him as soon as she wakes up? Did we really need that extra ten minutes of suspense? Wasn't the major conflict (or whatever the dramatic term is) the fact that he was physically present and her spirit was disconnected from her body? Or that she had little time to live unless she could unify her spirit with her body? Aren't there enough problems to resolve without adding the memory loss trick to the mix?
The most entertaining characters in that film were the supporting ones: her sister, his best friend, and Jon Heder as the flaky psychic dude.

As for Mark Ruffalo, I do love him. Although, he does seem to be the same in most of his movies. He's got that thing where he seems like he's in emotional pain all the time. Which is probably why so many women love him- we want to save him by coercing him into a co-dependent relationship.

My favorite Reese Witherspoon movie will always be "Freeway" with Kiefer Sutherland. It's a whacked out modern version of Little Red Riding Hood. I think I'll add it to my Netflix list since it's been so long since I've seen it.

My vote for one of the best romantic comedies in recent years remains "The 40 Year Old Virgin." As kooky as the movie is, the characters are realistic, the development of the romance is realistic, the emotions seem genuine, and it's possibly the funniest movie I've ever seen.

That's my unsolicited two cents.

Lally said...

Guess I better stop writing off the top of my head. Though here I go again: Tom you're right about that Laura Linney movie, Ruffalo was great in it, but I can't even recall him in Collateral, and didn't see the other. And after yours and Nina's praise, I definitely have to check out Freeway. And I definitely agree with Nina that John heder was the best thing in Just Like Heaven, in fact, without his character and the way he played him, I would have felt the same way you felt about the movie Nina. But even though I agree from a logical and critical perspective with your frustration with the memory loss and then "adolescent fantasy-like quick fix" of the ending etc.—that's also why I ended up liking it, it's like eating sweets that I know I shouldn't but also know aren't going to kill me (maybe), it's a treat, it's supposed to make me all wimpy with adolescent romantic fantasy quick fixes, that's why I dug it in the end, whereas movies like The Departed or Good Sheperd that are supposed to be "realistic" and adult seem much more of a (male) adolescent fantasy than the actual events they're based on so I'm more disappointed because I go into them expecting REALITY etc. (My experience is that usually it's people who fantasized about what the reality of others is really like, like nerdy kids who weren't in gangs and then grwo up and write and/or direct movies about gangs that are as mushily jive as any romantic comedy.) I don't necessarily want reality in a romantic comedy (the mother of my older children spent six years in a coma before she died, that's enough reality for me). I watched Just Like Heaven expecting mush, and got it, but surprisingly, for me, mush that tasted sweet. I mean, wouldn't it be really sweet if that shit could really happen? That's why, I think, kids love fantasy type flicks, especially with spirits and ghosts, and why I still do too. Maybe I'll make a list in a future post of movies with spirits or ghosts in them that I dug, despite, or because of, the adolescent fantasy factor.