Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Already have an account? Log in here
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We encourage our community to report abusive content and/ or spam. Our team will review flagged items and determine whether or not they meet our community guidelines.
Please choose best explanation for why you are flagging this review.
Thank you for your submission. This post has been submitted for our review.
Sincerely, The Rotten Tomatoes Team
While I understand that Warren Beatty was a huge movie star in the 1970s I can't quite believe that this film was the fifth highest grossing of 1978 and earned nine Academy Award nominations including one for Best Picture. I found myself mildly amused with parts of the film but I wanted so much more from a comedy scripted by Elaine May who wrote and directed wonderful films like A New Leaf (1971) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972). However, this film may have been one of the only films to win me over in it's final scene as I was charmed and slightly disappointed as if the whole film had been as enchanting I would have considered watching it again in the future.
Successful L.A. Rams quarterback Joe Pendleton, Warren Beatty, is killed when he is hit by two vehicles in a tunnel while riding his bicycle. When sent to heaven it is discovered that his soul was taken out of his body too soon and his soul will now be implanted into the body of another person to make up for the mistake of the angels. He is placed into the body of billionaire Leo Farnsworth and meets his murderous wife Julia, Dyan Cannon, and her lover and his business partner Tony Abbott, Charles Grodin, who continuously try to have him killed. He also falls in love with a British school teacher turned environmental activist Betty Logan, Julie Christie, whom he is forced to leave when he enters the body of quarterback Tom Jarrett.
The humor in the film is all over the place as Beatty seems miscast in the lead role and the gags don't really work. It attempts to combine the sort of cheesy humor you would have found in the original 1941 film that this is based upon and modern satire that preaches liberal politics. The writing that attempts to comment on corporate schmucks and the nature of capitalism is not pointed enough to fit in next to the great satires of the 1970s like The Hospital (1971) and Network (1976). Beatty's delivery of the humorous dialogue also does not work because he takes himself too seriously to be believable as a football player with a passion for the saxophone who is a foppish creep in the presence of Christie. Surely May's influence on this screenplay was diluted because there is not an ounce of the wit or intelligence that she is known for and it was sad to watch a film with some great moments get drowned out amidst unfunny jokes.
Grodin gets some mileage out of delivering ridiculous lines in a deadpan style but his co-star Cannon isn't as successful as the deliciously nasty would be black widow. Maybe it is the fact that she is asked to deliver all of her lines in one style but this over the top acting did not elicit any real laughter from me and I am surprised at her Best Supporting Actress nomination. As a lead Beatty fails to be compelling for a large majority of the film as he manages to cast himself incorrectly and doesn't play on his strengths. Christie, who I have realized I only like in Darling (1965), Afterglow (1997) and Away from Her (2006), is utterly unconvincing as a passionate environmentalist as she sounds as though she can barely remember the dialogue she spouts and finishes every sentence with a screech. The only scene where the charms of Beatty and Christie are actually on display is the final scene in which they have a simple interaction where he asks her if she wants to drink coffee and she realizes that she has already known him. They do have a dazzling chemistry when they aren't playing unrealistic characters and I would have loved to have spent more time with them in this mode.
Of the 1978 Best Picture nominees this is one of the weakest as it is better than Coming Home (1978), which never really works due to the lack of chemistry between Jane Fonda and Jon Voight, but does not even compare to The Deer Hunter (1978), An Unmarried Woman (1978) and Midnight Express (1978). If you like light screwball comedies then this may be to your tastes but I would recommend you seek out a real classic instead of watching this imitation.
There are some mild laughs here, but there's a fundamental flaw to the overall execution: WHY ARE WE WATCHING BEATTY INSTEAD OF AN OLD MAN?!?! Most of the humor hinges on the idea that a geriatric rich man would be doing things like play football & hit on women & whatnot, but watching a virile young man do those things is nothing special. Even the emotional beats at the end flounder because of this. Missed opportunity in an otherwise good idea.
Remarkable from top to bottom, its only major flaw is (Spoiler) that he loses his memory of the whole thing. A person's memory is everything that makes them who they are. Should have left that part out.
The best fantasy comedy romance movie ever made!
Another "oldie-but-goodie" I watched w/ my brilliant 15-yr. old film critic and we enjoyed the silly antics and strange twists, esp. with the Cowboys-Rams match-up impending this evening. The beaming stare of Julie Christie and Warren Beatty at the pinnacle of their personal beauty was something to behold. This made it to DVD in 1999, but still held our attention today, and the football, marriage, political, corporate, and criminal law aspects of the 1978 day were still pretty applicable today. Worth your time! 4-stars ****
Not too bad, Ill stick with the original.The special effects could have been better.
Heaven Can Wait has its charming moments with the beginning and the ending being the highlights, but this is still a very overrated film that did not deserve any of its nine Academy Award nominations. The execution of the familiar plot is tired and not great, it fails to enchant properly and the characters are forgettable. A very disappointing film.
really liked this film loved the idea that the angle fucked up and he was given another life
Its weird when you start watching a movie and somewhere along the way you realize youve seen it before. Perhaps even weirder is watching a movie and realizing that you havent seen it before, but youve seen a remake of it. Many years ago I saw a silly little movie starring Chris Rock called Down to Earth which is shockingly similar to Heaven Can Wait. In fact it copied this movie so closely that I knew every single plot point before it came up this time around including what would happen at the very end. This made the viewing experience odd, and also strangely made me less interested. They didnt play into the fish-out-of-water aspect of this quarterback taking over a multi-millionaires business enterprises, instead they quickly transition into him trying to be the quarterback in his new body. I didnt connect with that at all, and it lacked the humorous potential they had when a dumb jock becomes a rich guy. I also thought there was a lack of chemistry between Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. However the story itself was kind of sweet, and it has moments of heart that I appreciated. The football was not shot well at all, which bugged me, as a big fan of the sport. I think I started to enjoy Heaven Can Wait a little more when I decided to take it as a campy (almost farcical) film in a heightened reality. So many things were happening that made no sense, but when I just let go and laughed at it, the movie was more fun. Its been too long since Ive seen the Chris Rock version to compare the two, but I think Im done with this particular story in film. Twice was enough for me.
A film I have heard about for many years but finally got around to that in my opinion tries to pull off to much & doesn't deliver in the end.
This film has too many elements; sport, romance, drama, supernatural etc. Warren Beatty director & star in my opinion has talent but not as
Much as he is often credited for.
I found the film a little hard to follow & had good elements but fails to come together. More of a film of it's time.