Just Like Heaven


Directed by: Mark Waters
Written by:Peter Tolan, Leslie Dixon
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Dina Spybey, John Heder
Released: December 29, 2005
Grade: C+

David Abbott (Ruffalo) has just rented a lavish new apartment with an amazing view of San Francisco.  He must be a very well paid landscape architecture because I don’t otherwise know how he could afford it.  Living alone, the apartment allows David to shut himself out from the rest of the world.  His wife passed away two years earlier and he’s never really recovered from the loss.

Out of the blue, he meets someone.  Her name is Elizabeth (Witherspoon) and she used to live in the apartment before David.  The catch is that Elizabeth isn’t quite there – she’s a ghost/spirit who only David can see.

After going through the whole “I’m crazy and I can’t believe this is happening” routine, David starts falling for Elizabeth.  She’s a funny, free-thinking girl and for the first time in years, he’s happy.  Why is it though that only he can see her?  The answer to this question will change his life…

Just Like Heaven is a standard romantic comedy.  Once you’ve been introduced to the characters, all you care about is how it will end.  The middle third of the film is a bore and there are umpteen lame jokes about David appearing to talk to himself in the street.  I chuckled the first time but that’s it.

My biggest grievance is the disjointed screenplay.  It’s as if the writers have started with the conclusion and then worked backwards.  There is a scene where David meets Elizabeth’s sister and tries to make her believe that he can communicate with her.  Instead, the sister thinks he’s crazy and comes after her with a large knife.  I’m no genius but I think I could do a better job of convincing someone that I’m seeing a ghost.  To start with, I’d get Elizabeth to tell me dozens of stories which only she would know.

Reese Witherspoon is an Oscar frontrunner this year but it sure ain’t for her performance in Just Like Heaven.  She stars in Walk The Line with Joaquin Phoenix which is due for release in Australia in February 2006.  There’s a strong buzz from the States and perhaps the old Reese (who I fondly remember from Election, Cruel Intentions and Pleasantville) will return.  Her journey into the romantic genre (with films including Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama) has been disheartening.

Considering I’m a guy talking about a “chick flick”, take my opinion for what you think its worth.