It's the fun details, whether in the dialogue, the plot or the interaction of the characters that sets a good romantic comedy apart. No such luck here.
reviewed by Jonathan Parker
A pretty ghost visits a handsome tenant in her old apartment and they try to answer those what the heck is going on here? questions in the anemic romantic comedy Just Like Heaven. This seemingly slapped-together film by director Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) has little in the way of comedy or romance and littler still to wrap your head around.
Elizabeth (Reese Witherspoon) is an ambitious and caring young doctor with hardly anything in her life besides work. That is, until she is hit by a truck in a terrible accident. Fast forward a few weeks to David (Mark Ruffalo), a depressed soul looking for the right San Francisco apartment with the right couch to drink away his troubles. He thinks he finds that apartment, until the ghost of Elizabeth starts appearing in what used to be her old place. After the initial shock wears off (though their juvenile interactions never do), they try to piece together what may or may not be going on. You see, Elizabeth can't quite remember her past, and David is not exactly forthcoming with his. Love, fate and some fear-of-death hi-jinx help them figure it out.
Like many a failed romantic comedy, this film lacks concern for the details. When we go to see such movies, we know we've seen it all before (yes, even a love story where one of the players is a ghost). It's the fun details, whether in the dialogue, the plot or the interaction of the characters that sets the good ones apart. No such luck here. Indeed, David somehow can even afford this great apartment without working. And in San Francisco, no less!
Lost and lonely Witherspoon and Ruffalo are admittedly fine and occasionally likeable. After all, they are usually darn good. They just don't have much interesting to do or say. They are even surrounded by other interesting and usually funny actors, like Donal Logue, Dina Spybey and Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder. Still, nothing sparks.
At the risk of giving too much away, the film also has an odd sub-message in favor of keeping people on life support even if they are in a coma with no brain activity. Suffice it to say that some of its conclusions are oddly opposed to letting go and reconciliation—even as the film pretends to be about just that.
Poor romantic comedy • PG-13 • 95 mins.