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Heavenly Kid, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"Inoffensive but Unmemorable"
2 stars

Its desire to take absolutely no artistic chances whatsoever is the chief reason for its downfall.

Sort of a reverse "Back to the Future" the high-school comedy/fantasy "The Heavenly Kid" is easy to like but even easier to forget about soon after departing the theater. It starts out in the early 1960s where the school's coolest dude is the handsome, black-leather-jacketed Bobby (played by Lewis Smith) who challenges another student to a game of automobile chicken near a steep cliff over the guy having made a pass at his girlfriend; Bobby wins, alright, but his sleeve gets caught on the wheel, and he and his car go tumbling over, resulting in a giant explosion and Bobby sent up to sort of an intermediate Heaven - he finds himself riding a filthy subway leading to a station where its passengers disembark and make their way up an escalator to their reward referred to as "uptown." Except Bobby. The ragamuffin-like-dressed Rafferty (the usually-excellent Richard Mulligan) appears and instructs Bobby to return to present-day 1985 to befriend the nerdy and picked-upon Lenny (an adequate Jason Gredrick) and instill him with the confidence to stand on his own. Only Lenny can see Bobby, and Bobby can see how much high school has changed what with mohawks, tight jeans, parachute pants and low-cut blouses. Basically, Bobby serves the same function Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly did in "Future," only that brilliant classic had an endlessly witty script whereas the one here, written by Carey Medoway and Martin Copeland (with the former also directing), is endlessly formulaic to the nth degree. There isn't a single memorable line, not a character beyond two-dimensional, and the jokes embarrassingly juvenile - if you've been longing to see someone forcibly slap a pack of cigarettes where the projectile cancer sticks accidentally wind up in someone's pizza, hey, this is your idea of entertainment. And the mediocre material isn't helped by Medoway's practically-nonexistent visual imagination, with the unremarkable compositions and eye for interesting period detail decidedly lacking. (You could be watching one of those drearily earnest television Afterschool Specials for all you know if it weren't for PG-13-allowed profanity. And is it just me or does it come off as pretty misogynic in that Bobby is repulsed by the school's blonde hottie having taken several students' virginity when quite likely he'd be A-OK with a school's male stud doing the same with the females?) After all is said and done is "The Heavenly Kid" entirely worthless? Not really. It moves along well enough during its brief eight-two minutes, and the lead performance by Lewis Smith is a wee bit more than par for the course. Obviously Bobby has been conceived as someone by the likes of the second coming of James Dean, but though Smith hasn't really all that much charisma I admired his decision not to showboat, electing instead to underplay things. He's bland but appealing throughout, and if the movie doesn't make him a bona-fide star here's hoping for a steady career as a reliable character actor at the very least.

Teenagers will likely find it a drag while adults will probably want to switch over to the evening news.

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originally posted: 09/08/20 07:39:35
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  26-Jul-1985 (PG-13)



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