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Just Like Heaven (PG-13)

Release Date: September 16th, 2005 by Dreamworks Pictures.
The Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Ivana Milicevic, Jon Heder
Directed by Mark Waters.

BASIC PREMISE: David (Ruffalo) falls in love with Elizabeth (Witherspoon) who claims to be the rightful owner of his apartment and turns out to be a ghost who only he can see.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Reese Witherspoon is very cute and charming as Elizabeth, the friendly ghost who drives David crazy. The first scene is a dream sequence where Elizabeth is in a beautiful garden. It is not clear what the meaning is behind this scene until the very end. After Elizabeth is hit by a truck, she ends up haunting David constantly while he thinks that he is hallucinating from all of his drinking. His skeptic friend (Logue), who is also a shrink, thinks that it is all in his head. Most of the humor is situational, as David talks to Elizabeth when, from other people's perspective, it looks like he is talking to himself. There is a hilarious scene at a bar when it looks like that he is fighting with himself. Unfortunately, the rest of the plot is filled with the same kind of recycled humor. In one very contrived, unrealistic, and uncomfortable scene, he performs an operation in the middle of a restaurant on an unconscious man with the help of Elizabeth's instructions. That's when Elizabeth realizes that she was once a nurse, but the problem is that the audience knows that already, so there is no suspense. It also turns out that Elizabeth's real body is in a coma and that she had once given permission to end her life if she were comatose. It is up to her sister to decide on whether or not to pull the plug. In a race against time, David and Elizabeth try to steal Elizabeth's body so that she won't die. Most of these scenes are poorly directed with very little tension. The script is also not witty and realistic enough to enliven the film. Ivana Milicevic is very sexy as David's seductive neighbor who comes onto him too strongly. The script--as well as David--forgets about her very quickly. The most enjoyable actor ends up being Jon Heder, who plays a lively, bookish "ghost-sensor"--he was last seen in Napoleon Dynamite and he steals every one of his scenes here. He also ends the movie with the most memorable line: "Righteous!". If only he were the lead instead of Ruffalo, whose acting is too wooden to enliven this film.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The basic message is that true love comes in many strange ways, i.e. in the form of a ghost. Unfortunately, the scenes that are supposed to be moving are not because of the weak, formulaic script and mediocre acting. Also, there is very little chemistry between David and Elizabeth. On a positive note, the way that the initial dream sequence ties into the rest of the film is very sweet, uplifting, and heartwarming

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Formulaic, predictable plot. Not enough scenes with the hilarious Jon Heder!


THE BOTTOM LINE: A simple, cute, yet formulaic film with mediocre acting and humor that gets old and falls flat too quickly. Jon Heder's few hilarious scenes are not enough to make this film fresh and engaging. Directer Mark Waters has directed much more entertaining and smart films such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. This is a small step downward for him.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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