Just Like Hell...But Worse

Columbus Alive | September 15, 2005
From its opening with a bad cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” to its way-too-long denouement seemingly spit out of a mechanized romantic comedy plot generator, something seems horribly wrong with director Mark Waters’ latest flick.

Waters’ last two efforts—Mean Girls and Freaky Friday—triumphed over low expectations, but this effort has more in common with his 2001 Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle Head Over Heels. That is, it’s a brain-dead formula flick with a high-concept twist.

The twist here is that the female lead, a workaholic doctor played by Reese Witherspoon, isn’t entirely tangible when she meets the male lead, mourning borderline alcoholic Mark Ruffalo. He’s just moved into her apartment, which she has little use for, since she’s sort of a ghost whose body is in a coma. She doesn’t know this, however, because she’s the disembodied spirit of a woman in a coma with amnesia.

Ruffalo and Witherspoon have too much talent to waste on these kinds of movies (not that that stopped the 13 Going on 30 and Sweet Home Alabama stars before). Able comedy relief comes in the form of Ruffalo’s best bud Donal Logue and poor Jon “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder, who plays a spaced-out stoner spiritualist—saddled with the unenviable task of trying to turn “Righteous!” into a trendy catch phrase.

I’d like to think that Just Like Heaven’s worst crime is wasting those talents, or perhaps forever tainting a beautiful Cure song. But then comes the threat of Witherspoon’s plug being pulled, and our heroes must convince the non-believers that Witherspoon’s soul is still alive. When a romantic comedy seems specifically designed to appeal to Bill Frist, and manages to call to mind the plight of Terri Schiavo, the soundtrack is the least of its problems.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 62 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
  • Phone: (614) 221-2449