- Movie Rating -

Heart Condition (1990)

| February 2, 1990

Swimming around somewhere at the bottom of Heart Condition is a movie with great heart, great bittersweet comedy and pathos that might have made for a great emotional experience.  Unfortunately, it is all but buried by a plot is damned and determined to be as myogenetic as it possibly can be but also be sweet and moving.  It switches gears on a dime, and can’t make up its mind from one moment to the next the kind of movie that it wishes to be.

The story is another dead-guy-returns-to-earth routine, this time involved a lawyer played by Denzel Washington, and ambulance chasing lawyer who dies after a drive-by shooting.  He returns as a ghost only to find that his heart has been transplanted into the body of a bigoted cop (Bob Hopkins) who drinks, smokes and over-eats.  Worse, they had a fierce hatred for one another even when Washington was alive. 

The conceit of the story is that the lawyer needs the cop to find out who shot him and why, but the cop is a racist and initially won’t cooperate.  Added to that is the fact that both the lawyer and the cop have had an affair with the same prostitute.  And added to that is the fact that there is a drug dealer running around who keeps his clients in check with calming injections.  And added to that is a bull-headed police captain who won’t listen to Hoskins even when the evidence is right in front of him.

The movie has a lot of things going on and a lot of directions that it wants to go.  Unfortunately, a potentially good story is drowned by a movie that can’t find a tone or a structure.  From scene to scene this movie wants to be heartfelt, but then slapstick, and then hard-boiled.  That movie is also so determined to lean on its character’s misogynistic manhood that its emotional payoffs ring hollow.  The cop and the lawyer are terrible people but James Parriott’s screenplay tries to have it both ways by having us sympathize with two guys who essentially hate women as much as they hate themselves.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1990) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized