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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.09%
Worth A Look: 19.57%
Average: 21.74%
Pretty Bad: 2.17%
Total Crap30.43%

4 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Just Like Heaven
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by EricDSnider

"OK, not JUST like it, but a pleasant place anyway."
4 stars

Usually the conflict in romantic comedies is that the two people in question simply don't get along, or are kept apart by weak circumstances that are easily overcome in the film's final act. But the conflict in "Just Like Heaven" is that one of the people is dead. Take that, "Must Love Dogs"!

The dead person in this agreeably cute rom-com is Elizabeth Masterson (the agreeably cute Reese Witherspoon), a harried E.R. doctor in San Francisco who is involved in a car accident one night, leading to her new non-corporeal state of being. Her apartment is sub-let by her bereaved family to David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), a sad-sack whose wife died not too long ago and whom his friend/psychiatrist Jack (Donal Logue) cannot convince to get on with his life.

Trouble is, Elizabeth hasn't left the apartment. Her spirit hangs around, appearing to David -- and only David -- and terrifying him. She's terrified, too: As we learned in "The Sixth Sense," sometimes dead people don't even know they're dead. Elizabeth is one of those, and she wants to know what this strange man is doing in her apartment. Then she realizes she can't touch anything and starts to accept that maybe she's not as alive as she thought she was.

She doesn't FEEL dead, though, and there's a reason for that that I won't get into. But she's definitely a spirit, and she definitely has amnesia about her life, leaving David -- her reluctant mortal companion -- to help her piece together clues about who she was and what happened to her.

(This includes visiting a wonky spiritualist played by Jon Heder, aka Napoleon Dynamite. I am supposed to mention this because it's his first post-Napoleon role. I'm pretty sure the character doesn't even need to be in the movie. But I'm glad Heder's getting work, because he seems like a good guy.)

Witherspoon and Ruffalo have a fair amount of chemistry together, which is impressive given that their characters can't make physical contact with each other. Witherspoon's persona as a perky control freak is cemented -- David summons Elizabeth's spirit by threatening to put a coffee mug on the table without a coaster -- and Ruffalo works his already-established mojo as a laid-back, likable loser to considerable effect. He handles the physicality of the role especially well, with ongoing comic reactions to Elizabeth's presence and a particularly good moment when Elizabeth briefly inhabits his body. (Not overdone, thankfully, since we've seen that kind of comedy before.)

The writers are Peter Tolan and Leslie Dixon, veterans of fair-to-middling comedies such as "Guess Who" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," and their source material is a book by Marc Levy. They and director Mark Waters ("Mean Girls," "Freaky Friday") bring the film to an affably goofy climax that even has a few surprises, only to mar the achievement with an unnecessary conflict that delays the inevitable happy ending. Perhaps the bylaws of romantic-comedies required there to be a scene of the protagonists missing each other (set to a sappy pop song) before they could finally live happily ever after. But I say one major conflict is enough, especially when it's a good one like somebody being dead.

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originally posted: 09/16/05 15:43:42
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User Comments

2/19/17 Suzanne one of my favorite movies; such great cast 5 stars
12/18/12 salemswhiskers Liked most part of the movie except last scene with the cheesy music. 4 stars
8/19/09 the dork knight Ruffalo is likable for once. Some nice slapstick moments 5 stars
1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 1 stars
12/05/07 mrsinister Mark Ruffalo is surprisingly funny in this. I liked it. 4 stars
4/29/07 Geraldine I can't help but find this movie absolutely adorable. 5 stars
1/10/07 johnnyfog Yeah its predictable feel good crap, but still funny 5 stars
6/26/06 bex best film ive seen in ages 5 stars
3/27/06 The Talking Elbow Cynics beware: a rom com with spiritual undertones. Love it or hate it, but it's smart. 5 stars
2/26/06 cody a pretty soild romantic comedy with great cast , good job! 4 stars
12/19/05 haylee i absolutely LOVED the movie!!it was great and i want it on dvd!! 5 stars
12/14/05 Corinne My husband said, "oh so a chick flick" and thats why I enjoyed it. Romance, comedy and fun 3 stars
12/08/05 Gator Stotts Best movie i have ever seen! Perfect and appropriate! Reese and Mark did and excellent job! 5 stars
11/26/05 Priscilla Postlethwaite Flawed but so much better than 40-Year Old Virgin. What is eflimcritic thinking?!? 3 stars
11/21/05 Lisa Great chick flick 5 stars
10/22/05 Vince It was generally good 5 stars
9/25/05 L Wonderful!! Laughing out loud one minute and about to cry the next! 5 stars
9/25/05 Aaron Smith Ruffalo & Witherspoon perform well. 3 stars
9/20/05 Ken in Texas HOW can you NOT like this film? Best film I have seen since Pay it Forward... 5 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes It's better than "The Perfect Man" 1 stars
9/16/05 yyy Ghost, Heaven can wait, Arrival - all about love between dead and living people 2 stars
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  16-Sep-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2006



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