Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
USA, 1989. TriStar Pictures, Lobell/Bergman Productions. Screenplay by Perry Howze, Randy Howze. Cinematography by William A. Fraker. Produced by Mike Lobell. Music by Maurice Jarre. Production Design by J. Dennis Washington. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by Harry Keramidas.
Gimmicky fantasies about romances mixed up in heaven were not hard to find in the eighties, and while this one is among the more bearable, that’s not saying much. Christopher McDonald marries the beautiful Cybill Shepherd while best friend Ryan O’Neal looks on in good-hearted envy. A year after the wedding, McDonald dies in a car accident and leaves her alone and pregnant; when he reaches the pearly gates he announces to the powers that be that he must go back, and does so, reborn in the form of Robert Downey Jr. and accidentally returned without having had the memories of his previous life properly erased. When Downey meets Shepherd’s now-grown daughter (Mary Stuart Masterson) they ignite a possible romance, which is thoroughly creepy, until he meets her mom and he starts having flashbacks to his former self. Emile Ardolino, coming off his success with Dirty Dancing, maintains none of the fresh charm that made his indie sleeper such a hit, instead bogging the film down with bad dialogue, stupid situations and awkward performances (Masterson in a comedy is like casting Harrison Ford in a musical). The only saving grace is Shepherd, who is dying to give a Peggy Sue Gets Married performance (just look at her face when Downey first tells her who he is) but is hampered by a cliché-ridden role. It’s a chore to sit through and the finale induces eye-rolls.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Song (“After All”)
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Original Song (“After All”)