out of Five
Running time: 95
Enjoyable and surprisingly moving romcom with superb performances from Witherspoon and Ruffalo and amusing comic support from Jon Heder.
What’s it all about?
Just Like Heaven is an entertaining romcom from director Mark Waters, whose comedy credentials are rock solid after the twin hits of Freaky Friday
and Mean Girls
. Mark Ruffalo plays David, a depressed widower who finds his fabulous San Francisco apartment haunted by the confused spirit of Elizabeth (Reese Witherspoon), the flat’s previous owner.
Convinced Elizabeth is a ghost, David attempts to help her cross over to the other side. However, Elizabeth is convinced she’s still alive and persuades David to help her search for the truth about how she came to be in her present state.
Ruffalo and Witherspoon make an extremely likeable screen couple and there’s genuine chemistry between them. Witherspoon is terrific, especially in her early still alive scenes, where she subtly masks how lonely her character is. Ruffalo is equally good, slowly emerging from his shell as a result of his reluctant relationship with Elizabeth.
There’s also strong support from Donal Logue (as David’s best friend Jack) and Jon Heder, who proves there’s life after Napoleon Dynamite with an amusing comic turn as a supernatural bookseller who agrees to help David. In addition, the San Francisco locations are filmed beautifully and the script crackles with witty lines, such as when David confesses to Jack that he’s been sort of seeing someone.
The plot is admittedly corny and predictable, but it works thanks to spirited performances from its two leads. That said, some of Ruffalo’s physical comedy moments don’t quite work. The only real problem with the film is an unnecessarily extended finale that weakens its emotional climax.
In short, Just Like Heaven is definitely worth seeing thanks to a witty script, superb performances and strong direction from Waters. It’s extremely rare to find a decent romcom these days, so it’s good to know that Waters is still on his winning streak. Recommended.
Just Like Heaven (PG)