Movie Review: Heaven Can Wait

I first watched Heaven Can Wait when I was a kid. I’m not sure exactly how old I was. Maybe 12? I probably watched it once or twice after that, but it’s been decades since I’ve seen it again. I remembered it generally being pretty decent, though, so I decided to give it a shot for family movie night yesterday. Daniela’s up for just about anything, and as long as things aren’t in black and white, MC will give it a shot.

How’d it do?

As a refresher if it’s been a while (or a description if it’s been never), the movie stars Warren Beatty as an old quarterback for the Rams, who finally seems like he’s about to catch his big break. Life’s looking up, he’s on top of the world . . . and then he dies in a bike crash. When he gets to the afterlife, however, he discovers that he wasn’t actually supposed to die then: the person in charge of collecting his soul jumped the gun, thinking he’d spare Beatty some pain. So Beatty gets to go back to earth in a new body. But he still wants to play in the Super Bowl. The plot spins out from there.

The movie didn’t work for MC much at all. I think the humor and the subject matter weren’t something that really interested her. But the rest of us really enjoyed it. (In fact, as I went to check it out on IMDB after the fact, I discovered it was nominated for 9 Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Music, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, and Art Direction (Which was the only one it won.))) The plot is surprisingly different, with turns that you don’t really expect. It’s definitely quirky, but not overly so.

Personally, I’m a fan of afterlife movies, and this one fits squarely into that genre, clearly. It’s more on the Defending Your Life side of the spectrum as opposed to the Beetlejuice or Frighteners side of things, but I always find it interesting to see how filmmakers try to picture what things will be like when we die.

Is it perfect? No. It had some elements that felt dated for sure, and there’s a sense to the plot that it didn’t quite get worked out completely. I wondered if it might have been edited awkwardly after the fact. Not that any of that breaks the film in any way, but it kept it at an 8/10 rating for me, instead of higher. Definitely worth your time, even 25 year after it released. It’s on Prime Video now.

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