out of Five
Running time: 106
Poorly directed, ill-conceived, hideously unfunny romcom-slash-disease-of-the-week movie that has a strong supporting cast but suffers from an annoying central character, a badly written script and a jarring tonal clash that suggests it can't decide which film it wants to be.
What's it all about?
Directed by Nicole Kassell (only her second feature after her excellent debut drama The Woodsman), A Little Bit of Heaven stars Kate Hudson as Marley Corbett, a successful New Orleans advertising executive who doesn't believe in romance but does believe in frequent casual sex. During a medical check-up she has a vision of God (Whoopi Goldberg), who tells her she's dying of cancer and, um, grants her three wishes.
Instead of stressing out too much about her terminal cancer, Marley jokes around with her friends – ditzy Sarah (Lucy Punch), happily married Renee (Rosemarie De Witt) and gay best buddy Peter (Romany Malco) – clashes with her understandably upset mother (Kathy Bates) and grows frustrated with her emotionally distant father (Treat Williams). Meanwhile, she finds herself falling in love with her sweet-natured Jewish-Mexican doctor, Julian (Gael Garcia Bernal). And then the wishes start coming true ...
A Little Bit of Heaven escapes one star ignominy purely on the strength of its strong supporting cast, particularly Bernal (who's charming and sweet if perhaps a little lost), Bates (who has the only genuinely moving scenes as Marley's mother) and DeWitt, whose heavily pregnant character struggles to reconcile her sadness about Marley's illness with her own happiness. There's also strong work from Punch while Malco's performance is refreshingly free of the camp theatrics normally associated with gay best friend roles.
That said, the inconsistent, poorly thought-out script is all over the place, with important sub-plots completely ignored (such as Alan Dale's head doctor warning Julian that there'll be consequences if he persists in a relationship with his patient) and weird, out-of-place scenes that should probably have been cut: the less said about Peter Dinklage's cameo, the better.
The biggest problem is that Marley is frequently annoying (her constant sex jokes would shame even Stifler himself) and she also never seems all that upset about her TERMINAL CANCER, so it's hard to really care about her. Similarly, the film can't seem to decide between comedy and sentimentality and ends up failing miserably at both.
A Little Bit of Hell, more like. Despite a strong supporting cast, A Little Bit of Heaven is a disappointing, badly written and poorly conceived comedy/drama that fails as both a romcom and a sentimental blubfest.
A Little Bit of Heaven (12A)