Just Like Heaven (2005)

Reese Witherspoon as Elizabeth in Just Like Heaven

Witherspoon and Ruffalo are Just Heavenly

"Just Like Heaven" starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo is a surprisingly decent romantic comedy that manages to blend a typical boy meets girl style storyline with one which has a similarity to "Ghost". It's by no means a perfect movie and there are elements such as the romance which isn't quite right although it still manages to be enjoyable. But "Just Like Heaven" is unexpectedly good fun, with a clever twist which stops it from being just another routine walk through of a standard storyline making it surprisingly engrossing and with decent performances from both Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo is well worth a watch.

When David (Mark Ruffalo - Collateral) finally finds his perfect apartment the last thing he wants is unwanted company. But when Elizabeth (Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line) shows up, insisting that he is in her apartment that is exactly what he has got, except as quickly as Elizabeth appeared she vanishes right in front of his eyes. Convinced that Elizabeth is a ghost David tries everything to get rid of her, but she believes she is still alive although confused to who she is. Desperate to sort out the issue and find out the truth their volatile and strange friendship turns into romance as the truth to who she is becomes clearer.

Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo in Just Like Heaven

Fundamentally "Just Like Heaven" is a combination of two storylines a mergence of a traditional boy meets girl love-hate relationship with a touch of the ghostly where a non real person manages to communicate with a real person to try and sort out an urgent issue, as in the popular "Ghost". But unlike other movies which merge two storylines "Just Like Heaven" manages to make it work because they give it a clever twist. It's purely down to the twist that the blossoming romance between David and Elizabeth works and in doing so makes the entire movie far more enjoyable than expected. It is even clever enough to realise that the nature of the way the storyline develops means that certain things will happen and takes them into account making what is basically a fantasy movie feel surprisingly more real.

It's not all perfect and certain aspects of "Just Like Heaven" just don't quite work. It maybe down to the predictable nature of the relationship between David and Elizabeth that although it's nice is also a little weak in places. But then this is actually made up for with some obvious comedy which instead of feeling forced and unfunny makes you smile by its natural inclusion. In the early scenes where David and Elizabeth are arguing over whose apartment it is, when Elizabeth is unable to pick up the phone it doesn't feel wrong and makes a point whilst also making you smile, basically it's just right. It's thanks to the balance between the storyline and the comedy that it is perfectly paced, making a movie which at just 91 minutes long feel much longer and yet not in a dragged out way.

Whilst the clever twist on a traditional storyline and the perfect balance between romance & comedy makes "Just Like Heaven" a good movie it is also down to the performances from Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo which lift it above being average. Reese Witherspoon, who is one of my favourite actresses, is wonderful as the bossy Elizabeth and as always looks as cute as a button. But her performance doesn't just rely on being cute and the development of her character as the work obsessed doctor in the opening scenes through to the confused visitor in the rest of the movie is wonderful.

Opposite Reese Witherspoon is Mark Ruffalo and although he ends up playing a similar character to what he has done before in the likes of "13 Going on 30" and "Rumour Has It" he puts in another decent performance. Mark Ruffalo is understatedly funny as well as likeable and the pairing with Reese Witherspoon works perfectly making for a very appealing couple on the screen. His character is not as well defined as Witherspoon's but in a way the bit of mystery surrounding his character works making him interesting.

Although "Just Like Heaven" is very much Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo's movie it does have a few very fine supporting performances from Donal Logue as David's friend Jack, Dina Waters as Elizabeth's sister Abby and most impressively Jon Heder who plays the funny psychic book shop owner Darryl who can sense Elizabeth's presence.

What this all boils down to is that "Just Like Heaven" is a surprisingly good romantic comedy, far better than many, which manages to add a clever twist to a blend of traditional storylines that makes it stand out from the crowd. It's also thanks to the wonderful pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo as to why it works so well despite a few minor flaws when it comes to certain aspects of the storyline.