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Retroview: We never danced in 'Made in Heaven'



made_in_heaven.jpgTODAY'S RETRO-REVIEW: A trippy romantic flick from 1987, Made in Heaven starred Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis as lovers who meet in heaven. It's directed by Alan Rudolph (Choose Me, Trouble in Mind, The Moderns).

THE PLOT: After dying while trying to help a drowning family, a boy (Hutton) meets the love of his life in heaven (McGillis). When she's sent back to earth, he begs for a chance to return too. He's given until his 30th birthday to find her, or live the rest of his life without her.

MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: In a bizarre casting role, Debra Winger plays a chain-smoking "male entity" (not necessarily God) named Emmett, who seems to run the show beyond the pearly gates. In the closing credits of the movie, the role is listed simply as "Starring Emmett as himself."

SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: Made in Heaven is full of great cameos, including small roles by Tom Petty (as some sort of con man named "Stanky"), Ric Ocasek (as a car mechanic), and Neil Young (as a truck driver).

WHAT CRITICS SAID: "Made in Heaven is original and even spellbinding in the scenes set in heaven. It finds nothing new to say about earth. If it had stayed in heaven, exploring the contradictions and paradoxes of its heavenly laws, it might have been more fun." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

WHY WE STILL LOVE IT: For the same reasons Ebert dismisses it, dopey '80s fans like me embrace it. The idea that heaven is a place where marriage isn't a ceremony or a legal status, but an act of love, has universal appeal. And to watch Hutton's frustrating search for meaning of life back on earth is heart-breaking and yet familiar.

Quote-wise, there's any many that come to mind. But the theme song (We Never Danced by Martha Davis) that gets inside's Hutton's mind, and eventually serves as his salvation, is an ear-worm for sure.

[Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 3:55pm]


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