By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Her life after death.
Lucy (Shelley Long) is married to Jason (Corbin Bernsen) a well-off plastic surgeon, but finds that she doesn’t fit in with his snobby clientele and feels out-of-place whenever she tries to hang out with them at dinner parties. She turns to her wacky friend Zelda (Judith Ivey) who dabbles in the occult, but her spells and magic do little until Lucy chokes on a chicken ball and Zelda is able to magically bring her back to life one year later. Now Lucy finds a new lease on things. Jason has gotten remarried to her former friend Kim (Sela Ward) and she uses this news to find a new love of her own and she’ll have to do it quickly because if she doesn’t find true love by the next full moon she’ll go right back to being dead again.
This is the second collaboration between director Frank Perry and writer Susan Isaacs and while their first effort Compromising Positions was just barely passable this one doesn’t even make it to that level. The script is unable to settle on any type of genre as it dabbles in drama, romance, comedy, social satire and fantasy, but ends up being only shallow nonsense in the end. A few of the tangents that it takes has potential to be interesting, but then it doesn’t go far enough with it. The comedy is light and inconsistent with the funniest moment being the one that was shown in its trailer where Lucy comes back to life and finds her shocked husband and friend in bed together and after that there’s very little else that’s even mildly amusing.
The fantasy elements are poorly thought out and leave a lot of unanswered questions. The climactic showdown between Lucy and Kim is flat and the caricatures of the rich and snobby crowd are clichéd to the extreme. I also didn’t find the scene where she chokes on a chicken ball to be a laughing matter as according to government statistics over 3,000 people in this country choke to death each year and if they really wanted to create some sort of goofy death it should’ve been something much more over-the-top.
Long isn’t leading lady material. Her image is so ingrained with the uppity and prim Diane Chambers persona from ‘Cheers’ that having her portray someone who is kind and humble comes off as insincere and phony and her attempts at being a comical klutz is annoying and completely unfunny.
This was Perry’s final directorial effort. He burst onto the film scene in the ‘60s and showed flashes of brilliance and new age vision, but his career declined markedly once he divorced from his screenwriter wife Eleanor and the stuff he did afterwards was barely even worth a look. He eventually was diagnosed with cancer and spent the last years of his life battling the disease and in 1995 even made a documentary about his fight called On the Bridge, which was far more compelling than this tripe.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: November 6, 1987
Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes
Director: Frank Perry
Studio: Buena Vista Pictures
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube