Just Like Heaven (2005)

Reese Witherspoon stars the the year’s most illogical chick flick.

“Just Like Torture”

Going into “Just Like Heaven” I thought I knew what I was in for.  It would be your typical Reese Witherspoon chick-flick, with the premise being that she would die, come back as a ghost, and then fall in love with the man who moved into her apartment.  Yes, it’s a completely stupid idea for a movie, but no dumber than most of Reese Witherspoon’s other movies like Legally Blonde.  And so I was prepared to do my manly duty and tolerate this film for my girlfriend’s sake…

Reese Witherspoon in "Just Like Heaven"

Except this movie has nothing to do with a girl dying and then falling in love.  Reese Witherspoon never dies.  She gets into a car accident and then ends up in a coma.  So with that being said, why on earth is this movie called “Just Like Heaven”?  And why does that phrase in the upper right hand corner of the movie poster say “It’s a wonderful afterlife?”

My theory is that a story about Reese Witherspoon dying, and then coming back to life as a ghost and falling in love, is far more interesting than a story about Reese Witherspoon ending up in a coma.  And so Hollywood figured it could trick more people into seeing the film by marketing it that way.

But then why wouldn’t they just change the story and make Reese Witherspoon die?  Good question.  I have several theories about this.  (Can’t you tell I was just captivated by the story?)

First, the more illogical a chick flick is, the more women love it.  A multi-billionaire picking up a hooker, finding her to be absolutely charming, and falling head over heels in love with her?  Completely illogical for five thousand reasons that I won’t delve into.  But also the most popular chick-flick in history.  Having Reese Witherspoon die and come back as a ghost makes some sense.  Having Reese Witherspoon in a coma and then separating from her body by some unexplainable means is far more illogical, and thus far more likely to become an instant classic.

Second, and far more likely, is that the writers of this movie had a combined IQ of 12, and having Reese Witherspoon in a coma required far less creativity than if she were dead.  Putting her in a coma allowed for a much easier ending of simply have Reese Witherspoon wake up.  If you killed her, things would be far more complex.  Do you make her come back to life somehow?  Do you kill Mark Ruffalo so the two of them can be together?  Do you have Reese Witherspoon simply pass on to the afterlife for a sadder ending?  Or do you leave her as a ghost, with their love remaining strong even though they can’t touch each other?  All four of those endings are much better and far more interesting than having Reese Witherspoon wake up from her coma, and I came up with them as I was typing them. Shows how much effort went into this film…

Mark Ruffalo in "Just Like Heaven"

And as far as our leading man… What’s with Mark Ruffalo‘s recent string of being the leading man in highly illogical chick flicks?  “First Thirteen Going on Thirty”, and now “Just Like Heaven”? Talk about hitting new lows. What I want to know is how many actors shot down the movie before they called Mark. I can just picture the phone call going out.

“Hey Richard, I have this great part for you in a movie where Reese Witherspoon is in a coma…”


“Richard?  Hello Richard?”

“Well Gere’s a no.  Same with Hugh Grant, Heath Ledger, Nic Cage, Freddie Prinz Jr.  Got any more ideas?”

“Hey, what about that guy who was in “Thirteen Going on Thirty”? You know, the one who looks like Tony Danza with a hangover? He’s gotta be available!”

“Yeah, give him a call!”

And congratulations to John Heder, who’s only two notable films now include two of the dumbest films of all time.  Yeah, that guy up there above is John Heder, the one and only Napoleon Dynamite.  I’m sorry, but that was one of the worst movies ever made.  I know a ton of people love Napoleon Dynamite, but they only love it because they think it’s cool to love it.  Somewhere, somebody of some influence was mildly entertained by Napoleon Dynamite, and through the power of peer-pressure it evolved into a cultural phenomenon.  And before you Napoleon Dynamite lovers out there shoot me down, ask yourself this question. If none of your friends liked this movie, and they wouldn’t think that quoting it or wearing “Vote for Pedro” shirts was funny, would you still like Napoleon Dynamite?  I thought so.

And so as I wrap this thing up, let me just add that Reese Witherspoon played a doctor in this film.  And as a medical student, I was completely offended by the blatant lack of effort that was put into making this film at all realistic.  A guy passes out in a restaurant, and without a second though, Reese automatically thinks “Tension Pneumothorax”.  You see a guy pass out in a restaurant, and tension pneumothorax is about twenty spots down on your differential diagnosis.  Ever heard of choking?  And Mark Ruffalo’s wife bent over to pick up her broken heel and then suddenly died and Reese Witherspoon pulls out “Cerebral Hemmorage” right out of her butt.  Again, possible, but incredibly unlikely in a 30 year old woman.  Just an absolute disgrace.  And since I’m sure you are all just captivated by these medical errors, I’ll leave it at that.

DeROK’s Take:

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.