Mark Ruffalo is previously more well known for being the darling of the indie set – appearing in such films as We Don’t Live Here Anymore, My Life Without Me and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – yet 2005 has seen him try to move to mainstream fare. He has starring roles in two romantic comedies, Rumour Has It and Just Like Heaven, following on from his surprise appearance in 2004’s Jennifer Garner failure, Suddenly 30 (13 Going On 30), but sadly none of these seem likely to raise his profile to that of A-list star.
Ruffalo stars alongside Reese Witherspoon in this by-the-numbers outing, seemingly designed by a computer program such is the oh-so-tidy way every little thing fits together. It is an extremely competently written film, such that there is little wasted screen time – the problem with this is that you just know that every ‘insignificant’ comment or occurrence will later be important, so there is nothing left to the imagination. Nothing surprises, because anyone who has ever seen a romcom before will know well in advance where this is all heading.
The stars are adequate; Witherspoon clearly knows her way around a romantic comedy, and Ruffalo is capable of making a morose drunkard into someone you just want to hug. The chemistry between them is in short supply though, failing the ultimate test of romantic comedies – do you really want these two people to end up together in spite of it all?
The advance publicity made a lot of Jon Heder’s role in Just Like Heaven, but it is really no more than a cameo, which will disappoint the many fans of Napoleon Dynamite. There is nothing on display here to suggest he will have the charisma to carry another film as he did as Napoleon; it seems he may be someone remembered for one shining moment and then fading forever. Donal Logue, never famous for even one role like Heder, is lumbered with a poorly drawn sidekick character, and he never seems able to grasp what is being asked of him. In truth, his ‘Jack’ is a bit of a mess.
The soundtrack, direction, script… all are fair without being remarkable, and that basically sums up this film. Fair, but unremarkable. Never charming enough to make one ignore the robotic nature of its plotting, nor romantic enough to tug the heartstrings, Just Like Heaven may make for a quiet dvd at home, but not more.Rating: