You know what kills a good movie? A bad ending. I’ve seen it time and time again where a film hooks you as well as keeps your interest all before destroying everything you liked at the end. While some may remember my review of “Tin Cup,” the standard has to be “Watchmen” which still angers me to this day. For “Heaven Can Wait,” I’m not as much as mad but instead depressed.
The film follows Joe Pendleton, an NFL Quarterback who works his way back from injury to start for the LA Rams. Unfortunately before his start, he gets in an accident and it looks like he’s dead. Now here is where the movie gets a little weird. These escorts (or angels I guess) take people to heaven but this one jumped the gun and Joe wasn’t supposed to die. Unfortunately his body is gone and they need a replacement because his goal is still to win the Super Bowl.
Joe takes up the persona of Leo Farnsworth, a very wealthy man who has done many unethical things, which led to his wife and assistant attempting to kill him. While it’s meant to be more of a temporary solution, Joe really starts to make change with Farnsworth and also falls in love with a woman named Betty Logan. Now while I like seeing Warren Beatty throughout because he does a great job, I would have preferred to see what Farnsworth is really supposed to look like. Sure the other characters see the industrialist but we don’t.
Small grievances aside the film keeps you interested throughout. You feel bad for Joe because of what is taken away from him and are hoping he gets his chance for a Championship. Plus he is making what would be a pretty sleazy man into a very respectable one. Also the movie has plenty of comedy with how Joe talks with the escorts, the confusion that all of Farnsworth’s compatriots feel and the paranoia he leaves for his two attempted murderers.
Unfortunately right when everything seems to lead to the ending you want, you’re left with a quite depressing and sad one. Now I’m obligated to say spoilers because you may want to watch this film and if that’s so, STOP READING. The escorts tell Joe his time as Farnsworth is up so he is killed by his assistant and ends up getting the chance to win the Championship after the starting QB Tom Jarrett apparently dies. Joe takes over his body, leads them down the field and they win the Championship thus he is living his dream.
But it stops there for the protagonist. The escorts say his life is over and he must live the rest of it as Jarrett. The trainer Max Corkle, who even followed Joe as Farnsworth, becomes depressed when he sees his friend is truly gone. And while the hero still ends up going out with Betty, it doesn’t feel right.
Look I got the point that the movie is about life; sometimes things happen and are just meant to be. But the fact is this guy got screwed from the start because one angel messed up and his life is gone. I mean he never got to be Joe Pendleton or even Leo Farnsworth who’s life seemed to be turning a positive direction. And sure you could say he achieved his dream but want kind of message is that where as soon as you achieve it, you lose everything. It’s beyond disheartening and brings the whole movie down. I was thoroughly enjoying “Heaven Can Wait” leading up to the ending but afterwards, I feel like the team that wins a game while also losing the starting QB. Did we really win?