[Review] – A Little Bit Of Heaven

18 May

Title: A Little Bit of Heaven
Year: 2012
Director: Nicole Kassell
Writer: Gren Wells
Starring: Kate Hudson, Gael García Bernal, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lucy Punch, Romany Malco, Treat Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sexual content, including crude references, and language
Runtime: 106 min
IMDb Rating: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 4%
Metacritic: 14

Boy is this a bad, bad film. The kind of film that you should only watch if you really, really can’t sleep in a plane and that’s the only option and you’ve finished your big book of sudoku puzzles. What’s worse is that there are quite a bit of people I like involved in this film, but they’re all trapped in this remarkably corny device set around a romance between two actors who, though normally quite decent performers, don’t even show the hint of anything resembling believable chemistry. It actually just got me sad that this is what’s become of Kate Hudson‘s career.

Think about it, she was once the one responsible for one of my favorite performances in modern cinema, as the infinitely memorable Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe‘s Almost Famous, which is one of my favorite films ever. That performance got her an Oscar nomination that she really should have won (it went to Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock, instead) and it definitely propelled her to bigger leagues, and yet she took bad decision after bad decision, not really appearing in a single good film since that one (though still being a terribly charming no matter how crappy the films were), and now she’s at a point in her career in which she’s regularly taking roles in films like this one. It’s truly rather saddening.

In A Little Bit of Heaven she plays Marley Corbett, a character that really suits Ms. Hudson’s set of skills. She’s gorgeous, with a great career, awesome friends and a really sharp sense of humor. But then she finds out that she has terminally cancer, diagnosed by the handsome doctor Dr. Julian Goldstein, played by Gael García Bernal, and yet she uses that great sense of humor to deal with such life-changing news with some dignity, something that impresses Dr. Goldstein who’s this really closed-off kind of guy. So of course they will both fall in love. The thing, harsh as it may sound, in A Little Bit of Heaven is that instead of investing in how they’re going to deal with this romance, you may find yourself looking at Ms. Hudson’s character and thinking “Ugh, just die already”.

I mean, there’s a reason why in the romantic comedy genre, which is obviously not known for being the ground for vastly original ideas, we’ve never had a woman dying of cancer at the center of it. And once you watch A Little Bit of Heaven it’ll be painfully clear why, this is a hugely serious stuff and you can’t have all the silly little antics this one has in a film in which your main character is terminally ill. The Marley character is the typical out-going, awesome girl who says she never wants to settle down, and the Goldstein character is typical tightly-wound guy who would get her to change her mind, like she would change his. That’s formulaic, except A Little Bit of Heaven throws the cancer stuff right in the middle of it, it actually uses it to provide the meet-cute. It’s just a terribly stupid move.

It’s just astounding to me how the tone of the movie pretty much didn’t change at all with the introduction of such a serious topic, it went along bouncing with cheery spirits and used the disease to actually fuel a fantasy sequence in which Marley talks to God. And God is played by Whoopi Goldberg. I’m being serious, this stuff actually happens in this movie. So of course, after that visit to heaven, this movie will become all about living in the moment and being super inspirational and throwing a series of overplayed clichés your way without a care in the world.

I just don’t know what to recommend about this film. There are a lot of actors I like here, and they somehow manage to keep a straight face through the whole thing, but this film is just so generic and stupid that I can’t believe they ever signed up for it. I know romantic comedies are all about true love in the face of adversities, but this adversity is a serious one and it can’t be shrugged off as easily as this one pretended to do. There are actually a couple of opportunities that could have made for some sort of deep exploration of Marley, when she’s in a self-combusting mode that sees her hit rock bottom, but instead the film uses that to try and get some laughs (suffice it to say it doesn’t succeed at that).

I don’t know what else to say, really. This is a movie that somewhere in it had a good idea of trying to make a romantic comedy out of something so bold, but every single thing about the way in which this one’s executed is just absolutely off, and I really hope the actors got paid some handsome money for subjecting themselves to a film like this. As for Kate Hudson, a look at her IMDb suggests that, other than a voice role in a DreamWorks Animation film, she’ll keep her streak of mediocrity intact. I really wish Cameron Crowe gives her a call when he makes a new film and we can have some of that band-aid magic back.

Grade: D

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One Response to “[Review] – A Little Bit Of Heaven”

  1. naynum June 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I enjoyed your review a lot! A Little Bit of Heaven is a movie I actually really want to see. I am waiting for it to become available on Blockbuster @Home. I enjoyed the previews and these types of movies just pull on my heart strings. I bet I will cry because a lot of my Dish co-workers told me their eyes got teary eyed.

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