- Movie Rating -

Made in Heaven (1987)

| November 6, 1987

By a very strange twist of fate (or just odd booking) I ended up seeing the romantic fantasy Made in Heaven just a day after the Shelley Long romantic fantasy Hello Again.  Both lean on the idea of having their main characters die and then returned to this mortal coil where they get into adventures among the living.  Made in Heaven is the better movie by a country mile, but you might forgive me for dragging it along a very rocky country mile since I’m giving it a negative review.  For all of its faults, I can at least say that someone was thinking.  Not so with the other.

The story, I will admit, is much better.  While Long returned to Earth for comic shenanigans, this movie’s star Timothy Hutton returns to Earth for a much more noble purpose – true love.  He plays a nice guy named Mike who dies in service to a purpose even nobler perhaps – he has just been jilted by his girlfriend and perishes rescuing a woman and her children from an automobile that crashed into a river. 

Up in Heaven he runs into his dead aunt (Maureen Stapleton) who shows him around the heavenly realm and explains that the function of this realm is to simply think of something and it will appear.  Wants eggs for breakfast – voila! – best eggs in the universe!  Want to chat with an old girlfriend? Your mother?  How about Plato?  Jesus?  Abraham Lincoln?  Of course, this draws an interesting question.  What if they’re busy?  What if they simply don’t want to talk to you?  Why does a realm as vast and magical as Heaven have rules in the first place?  I guess I’m not suppose to ask.

Anyway, Mike falls in love with a beautiful woman named Annie (Kelly McGillis) who, quite curiously, is a new soul, meaning that she hasn’t been born yet.  They fall deeply in love and just as they are about to get married, she gets born and disappears, which throws Mike into despair.  Apparently moved by his plight, a chain-smoking guardian angel named Emmitt (played by Debra Winger in drag) sends Mike back to Earth to find her with one stipulation: They are different people on Earth and don’t know each other.  There is even a time limit: he has 30 years to find a woman that he won’t know that he’s looking for or the deal is off.

Annie is now Alley and she has weird visions of someone named Mike who is childhood she made into her imaginary friend.  Mike is now Elmo, a wayward soul who becomes a musician.  Will these two unknowing souls hook up before time runs out?

Honestly, the term limits are what drove me nuts about this movie.  Why would the officials of Heaven put such cruel limits on this love affair when they can, reasonably, do anything?  Why bound up their union by having their memories erased and their personalities reformatted into other people?  Annie and Mike are nice people and we believe their love is true but when they inhabit Alley and Elmo, we in the audiences have to reset our brains to remember that we are, essentially, meeting new people.

I appreciate the effort, I do.  Certainly this movie jogged my gray matter way more than the dull-witted sitcom tropes of Hello Again.  I liked the performances here.  I liked the story that was being told.  But I was frustrated at the gaggle of unnecessary rules.  Throw out the rulebook and let Mike walk Annie through the wonders of what will be her life.  Let’s see her discover the wonders that await her.  Let’s start there and thrown out the damned rule book.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Drama