Sunday, 16 April 2006

Just Like Heaven (2005) DVD

Quite so fluffy

Reese Witherspoon is the star of this comedy, where she plays Elizabeth, a workaholic doctor who can’t remember why her spirit now haunts her old apartment instead of doing the usual ascension to heaven thing, or why David, the reclusive new tenant recovering from the recent death of his wife, is the just about the only person who can see and hear her.

With this set-up, the film will have several phases: Elizabeth refusing to believe in her current status (and mistaking David for an intruder), several brilliantly funny failed exorcisms, the mystery segment where David and Elizabeth put aside their differences (He’s alive! She’s a spirit!) to find out why she hasn’t moved on, and their eventual falling in love.

There’s nothing really special about Just Like Heaven. Its plot is essentially sound but with some holes here and there, which is quite expected of a romantic comedy where the audience needs to just accept things as they happen. Instead, what you should look out for are the top-quality performances by the always likeable Reese Witherspoon, whose professionalism and skill can transform any average part in an average film, the acclaimed dramatic actor Mark Ruffalo, who isn’t known for playing in comedies (his physical comedy reminds me of Jim Carrey), and Jon Heder, whose cameo as a psychic bookstore owner is a delicious send-up of Whoopi Goldberg’s psychic in Ghost. Their lines are smart and funny without being gross or juvenile.

Together, Witherspoon and the rest of the cast turn an average and passable script into a level just like heaven.

DVD Extras

Even if you’re the type who don’t bother to watch the extras, given that The Making Of features from DVDs tend to be played as long advertisements on television and TVMobile, you must watch the deleted scenes feature. I’m impressed with the amount of work that went into this. Actually these are more of scenes that when taken together, present an alternate version of the movie you just watched. Depending on the deleted scene, a sharper or even zanier movie emerges. The alternate ending shows how much effort the editors, writers and cast put in, just to crack a joke. The alternate/deleted scenes are definitely funnier than the gag reel, and if your sense of humour is sufficiently warped, even funnier than the original movie.

First published at incinemas on 15 April 2006

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