Heavens Above! - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Heavens Above! Reviews

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½ April 14, 2016
A near perfect take on liberalism in the church, and how that doesn't fit well with those that actually run the church who fear its consequences.
½ August 2, 2013
Overlong, cynical British comedy has a low-key Peter Sellers performance.
½ February 10, 2013
Peter Sellers once again knocks it out of the park with bringing to life a super nice cheerful priest who just wishes to do God's work and the film looks at the realistic fallout of such deeds
August 31, 2012
"Heavens Above!" is the story of Jesus Christ II in the form of John Smallwood (Peter Sellers). The film is filled with symbolisms and is a little too self-serious, but offers some laughs, good acting (Sellers, Cecil Parker, Bernard Miles) and the classic gag of Sellers accidentally tripping into a grave. Overall, it's an enjoyable if not particularly special little film that would probably have been better if it had left the preaching aside.
January 14, 2012
Social satire with a rather somber message. There's a lot to think about in this film. Sellers is fabulous.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2012
Unjustly obscure, "Heavens Above!" is among Peter Sellers' essential movies. But beware, fans of droll British satire: You'll have to forgive an absurd ending which taints the entire film.

Sellers plays Rev. John Smallwood, a guileless prison chaplain who, by mistake, is summoned to the small community of Orbiston Parva. The town's revenue depends on a factory that produces Tranquilax, a dubious remedy that is a sedative, stimulant and laxative all at once. A perverse comparison is drawn between this "three in one" panacea and the Holy Trinity.

It's unclear whether Smallwood is a righteous thinker or just a simpleton who lucked into a virtuous path (shades of "Being There"'s Chance Gardener). But his gentle admonitions shock a hypocritical population accustomed to lazy, unearned feelings of godliness. Most residents are furious and call for his dismissal, but he does reach the matriarch of the town's wealthy, dominant family. Fearing damnation, she begins an extravagant charity program that frustrates shopkeepers and quickly unbalances the local economy. Meanwhile, passing comments from Smallwood's sermons hurt Tranquilax's credibility and cut into its profits. Can Orbiston Parva survive this disastrous dose of spirituality?

"Heavens Above!" takes shots at quite a few targets, from religion to capitalism to class divisions. It's a notably bleak portrait of humanity -- even the poor people are corrupt and ungrateful. There are some nice supporting performances, particularly Brock Peters' turn as a good-hearted garbageman, but Sellers carries the film with a brilliantly understated characterization. Beyond one pratfall into an open grave, he scarcely does anything "funny" in the film and yet "Heavens Above!" is indeed a comedy. It's just too bad that a farcical conclusion wholly violates the film's established, low-key tone.
½ November 1, 2011
Reveals hypocracy in the church without being offensive to believers. Very funny and relevant.
½ January 18, 2011
Funny early Peter Sellers comedy regarding the inadvertent catastrophe caused by the wrong vicar accidentally appointed to a snobbish parish. Great performance by Sellars before he became the superstar of "The Pink Panther" and "Dr. Strangelove," but unfortunately the ending left me a bit disappointed. Some great themes and social satire felt wasted by the ending.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2010
another great peter sellers performance, here playing a parish priest appointed to a small town church by mistake, when he starts his unauthordox ways change most of the town, and upset the church snobbish ways, his good will and surmens connecting, but also, giving free products ripple effect, causing outrage in town, sellers here with a i believe brumney accent, is on form, and the film has stuff to say, about religion, peoples lack of faith even in the 1950s, a slice of live worth seeing
½ October 21, 2009
Peter Sellers as an idealistic minister in this social satire. Loved it.
October 3, 2009
Peter Sellers is awesome in this movie. I found it by pure chance. One of his earliest.
May 26, 2009
I enjoyed this movie much more than I thought I would. Peter Sellers was such a good-hearted character, with a nice storyline to the movie, although the ending was quite strange (but I suppose that is what made it so memorable.)
March 9, 2009
A genuine classic of a Peter Sellers vehicle that isn't often mentioned when talking about the great man. This offbeat social satire, with a cheerfully upbeat central clergy character who ends up delivering a sobering message on life, society and religion, is clever and subtle as well as being rather radical for the time it was made. A plethora of great names in the supporting cast (William Hartnell, Eric Sykes, Roy Kinnear, Cecil Parker and Joan Hickson) and a strong, but unassuming, central performance by Peter Sellers as the Rev.John Smallwood. Sadly, the ending is a bit at odds with the tone that has gone before it, which lets it down slightly. But, all in all, a great little socialist comedy with a meaning and a message for all.
½ September 10, 2008
Peter Sellers is endlessly charming as a kind-hearted, yet controversial, minister in this early British satire. The acting and dialogue are both top-notch, though the story falters at the end. Still a lot of fun.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2008
classic charming british satirical comedy with peter sellers as a young vicar trying to bring christian charity to an uptight parish. it makes me smile :)
February 7, 2008
Great funny and oddball film about a vicar mistakenly posted to a rich parish. Its a great little film with a very strange ending, has lots of little jem scenes showing sellers comedy skills.
January 15, 2008
Over forty-five years old but could have been written now given the current trend for anti-clericalism, atheism and science over religion. The theme of the piece is essentially, 'what does it take to qualify as a Christian?' The conclusions the film come to ought to embarrass many self-professed Christians. Sellers, as ever, is ace, witha perfect Brummie accent. Worth watching just for that.
October 14, 2007
Social satire with a rather somber message. There's a lot to think about in this film. Sellers is fabulous.
½ October 7, 2007
Doesn't quite have the same punch as I'm Alright Jack, but Sellers is always excellent in whatver he did. Eric Sykes' character steals the film however.
½ July 10, 2007
The Boulting Brothers turn their scathing eye towards another venerable British institution, namely the church. Peter Sellers plays a progressive minister who tries to drum up support for the church by appealing to the masses, only to run afoul of the elitists in a small industry town. Sellers gamely, and unusually, plays the straight man while the humour is generated by the absurdity of the situations.
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