Just like Heaven (2005)

Just like Heaven (2005)
  • Time: 95 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
  • Director: Mark Waters
  • Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue


Elizabeth Masterson, a dedicated doctor in San Francisco, had almost no time for anything. When her sister with two kids set her up on a date, she gets into a tragic car crash and gets in a coma. Meanwhile, a landscape architect named David Abbott moves into San Francisco and coincidentally, into Elizabeth’s apartment for rent. While at the apartment, Elizabeth’s spirit haunts him. She doesn’t remember who she is, who her family is, and what she did – All that she remembered was her apartment and where everything was. To settle the arguments, David agrees to figure out who Elizabeth really is. When they get close to figuring out who she is, they eventually find love with one another and as they finally know who she really is, they learn that fate really has put them both together.

One comment

  • If by chance you follow writers and producers as close as actors, you’ll figure out what you need to know about “Just Like Heaven” before you tune in. Writer Peter Tolan, formerly of Murphy Brown, and currently of Rescue Me, spits out yet another good film as if he has them stored in a bottomless pit. If he weren’t so good at what he does, one might get bored with the formula, but because he is good, what would be repetitive tripe in the hands of a less competent writer manages to become a series of pleasant signatures.

    This film is no exception to the rule governing Tolan’s films, and therein lies its only real “flaw”: it is not an exceptional film, with “exceptional” defined as Oscar-worthy. With this film out of the way, and Rescue Me gaining massive critical acclaim, a Best Original Screenplay Oscar lies in Mr. Tolan’s future as soon as he and the correct project connect. His resume already includes strong films such as My Fellow Americans, America’s Sweethearts, and Analyze This, along with slightly lesser efforts such as Stealing Harvard and his new one with the gambling theme, and Just Like Heaven is a positive addition to that resume.

    Having conquered the popular movie genre decisively with this film, all that sits between Tolan and award glory is a direct confrontation with a hot-button issue in his signature style, which includes intelligent, competent actors performing as an ensemble, albeit a stereotypical one, characters you can not only relate to, but swear were based on people you either knew or came across, dialogue you might actually hear in the real world, and a general morality that prohibits direct harm against one’s fellow humans, but permits or even cherishes human nature, greed, and opportunity, with a hint of idealism that seems to represent Tolan’s cynicism regarding the LA culture in which he participates, and the injection of fantasy that reminds us that utopia will always be just beyond our reach.

    Tolan’s writing depth is horribly wasted on a film like this, but the result nonetheless is a good film that knows its purpose and limitations, and keeps to task and plot throughout a very entertaining cinematic ride. Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon reprise versions of their characters from almost a half-dozen of each of their previous films, cementing their legacy as this generation’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The film moves along at the right pace, never loses sight of the plot, and puts the “couple” of Ruffalo’s character and the comatose doctor whose spirit he is chasing through the necessary obstacles before they reach that defining moment which resolves their romantic tension. I won’t spill the ending, but you might figure it out somewhere along the way.

    Anyone who studies film-making would do well to watch this film not only as an excellent example of the fantasy genre, as Tolan (and his partner, Leslie Dixon, lest I forget her) takes the ball of the two supernatural events in the film and runs with it for a touchdown, but also an example of professional film-making, from writing, to acting, and cinematography, to the final edit. This film is put together exactly as a good film should be. With little or nothing left to conquer in this area, the head writer should be poised to take his game to the next level. Until then, I’ll be tuning into this one many times on cable, I’m sure. I’ve already seen it three, I think.

    Good film.

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