1881. Heaven Can Wait (1978)

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7.5 Heartfelt and enjoyable
  • Acting 7.5
  • Directing 7.4
  • Story 7.5
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Logan

Director: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

Running Time: 101 mins


Heaven Can Wait is an American film about a quarterback who is prematurely taken to heaven by an overanxious angel, however when he asks to return to Earth, he comes back in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

This isn’t the world’s funniest comedy, nor does it have the most riveting or emotionally enthralling story, but I have to say that I had a really nice time with Heaven Can Wait. It’s a fairly simple comedy-drama with a pleasant fantasy element brought in to create a bit more emotion, but it makes for a pleasant watch from start to finish thanks to a generally light atmosphere and some entertaining performances.

Let’s start on that note, because the performances are arguably the part of the film that works best throughout. Warren Beatty is a hugely likable lead, full of charisma and still with enough genuine heart to make his part in the story fully convincing, while Julie Christie proves a wonderful (albeit not quite enthralling) love interest, and the likes of James Logan add a nice level of comedy with a parodic take on the afterlife.

Following on from that, the film as a whole is a generally enjoyable and easy-going watch, even if it doesn’t quite have the depth necessary to be fully riveting. The comedy throughout isn’t gut-busting, but it will make you smile, and the silliness of the fantasy situation at hand will undoubtedly make you smile throughout, making this a very entertaining watch at times.

When it comes to the more emotional side of the story, it’s not 100% effective, but what the film does do is provide a very heartfelt and pleasant romance between Beatty and Christie, and although it doesn’t quite prove so cathartic when it comes to talking about the afterlife and some of the film’s slightly deeper themes.

Along with the performances, however, what impressed me most about this film was how directors Beatty and Buck Henry managed to keep it feeling very tight and sleek. Fantasy concepts like this mixed in with comedy, drama and romance have regularly made for very messy and dull movies, but Heaven Can Wait works well thanks to its light-hearted atmosphere, which allows the comedy and fantasy to work wonders, and its sentimentality, which keeps the drama and romance interesting throughout.

On the whole, this isn’t a film to rave about until the end of time, but it is one that I recommend. Thanks to strong performances and directing, and a consistently simple and light-hearted atmosphere, Heaven Can Wait is an enjoyable watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com

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