Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just Like Heaven (2005)

Yup, another guilty pleasure romantic comedy added to the series my housemate and I have been doing. In Just Like Heaven, Reese Witherspoon plays Elizabeth, a workaholic doctor whose pushy sister Abby (Dina Waters) is yet again trying to set her up with a guy. After working 24+ hours and accepting an attending position, she gets in a car accident on the way to Abby's house. A few months later, her apartment is rented out by seemingly professional slacker/beer-drinker David (Mark Ruffalo), who sees Elizabeth wandering around as a disapproving ghost, refusing to believe she's dead but with no memory of her life. After unsuccessfully trying to expel her to the afterlife (no one else can see her except him), David decides to help her find Elizabeth identity and get her out of his hair. Along the way they will probably fall in love.

Ok, so yes, this movie like so many others paints a negative image of hard-working career women, and that's not cool. And Witherspoon's hair looks pretty bad for most of the time, also not cool. But aside from the usual romantic comedy problems, it's a really cute and enjoyable movie. The plot is straightforward but engaging, and the comedy doesn't resort to over the top slapstick or embarrassing moments; instead it comes from the well-written dialogue. The cast is great, with Ruffalo being his unkempt, likable self and Witherspoon making sure her strait-laced, no-nonsense Elizabeth is still very sympathetic. I liked the appearances from Donal Logue as David's best friend/psychiatrist and Jon Heder as a spaced-out psychic as well.

Though I understand Just Like Heaven isn't actually very good, I keep watching it, mostly for the charismatic performances and lack of complications. There are beautiful shots of perpetually-sunny San Francisco, a decent soundtrack (hey, Beck and The Cure, I can dig it), and a nice, fairly intelligent story. And it's got a really smart lady who gets to show off her smartness in medical practice, instead of just wearing glasses and being given the title of a supposedly smart person even though she seems dumb (this happens in other movies, sometimes).



  1. What I remember most of this fairly average movie is the cinematography with some really gorgeous shots of the SF area as well as a nice eerie atmosphere that was given to the movie

  2. A fun guilty pleasure for me, too. I like the construction of the romance and the eventual procedural steps taken to piece together what's going on.

    I am still pondering these sentences in your reviews:

    "...this movie...paints a negative image of hard-working career women, and that's not cool. And Witherspoon's hair looks pretty bad for most of the time, also not cool."

    Hmmm... so films degrade career women, but the reviewer's degrading the actress for unliked hair circumstances? Hmmm...