Heaven Can Wait: A Depressing, yet Strangely Rewarding "Comedy"

Heaven Can Wait: The Criterion CollectionIt’s been a while since I did a movie review. Not because I haven’t been watching movies, but rather because I had too many other things I wanted to blog about. So to atone for that, I have a movie you Ought to Watch. Heaven Can Wait. No, not the 1978 Warren Beatty film with the same title–the 1943 Ernst Lubitsch one. And that’s a reason you should watch it right there. Lubitsch directed some excellent films, including The Shop around the Corner and To Be or Not to Be, both of which I heartily recommend. He had a talent for making films that weren’t easily classified. Comedies that weren’t just about being funny, for instance. Heaven Can Wait is an excellent example of this.

The premise is simple: a man dies, and he’s convinced heaven won’t take him, so he goes to hell to argue his case for acceptance there. That’s basically just a framing device, however, as the bulk of the movie consists of the man narrating his life, from childhood to death. It depicts him during roughly each decade of his life. (A much better depiction of this than Adam Sandler’s Click–go figure.) It’s parts touching, parts funny, and parts thought provoking.

Before the film, Denisa and I had been moping about how every now and then, life seems to settle into a rut. Each day can seem the same, and it’s easy to start feeling like you never do anything Fun and Exciting. (I know–this coming from the man who’s going to Europe this summer. Folks, the fact is that everyone’s life can seem exciting to other people. The trick is seeing that excitement yourself.) In any case, after watching this movie, we no longer felt that way. Suddenly it seemed more important to just enjoy experiences as they come, because you never know what the future might hold.

It’s That Sort of Movie.

But it’s really well done, and very watchable. The characters are realistic (in a 1940s sort of way), and the conflicts hit close to home. My recommendation would be curling up and watching this with your spouse on a date night. All you need is Netflix. 🙂

3.5 stars.

Leave a comment