Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

A Little Bit of Heaven

A Little Bit of Heaven
Kate Hudson, Whoopi Goldberg, Lucy Punch, Romany Malco, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kathy Bates, Treat Williams, Gael Garcia Germal and Alan Dale

Rated: PG-13  for sexual content, including crude references, and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 4, 2012 Released by: Millenmium Films

The makers of this indolent, misguided dramedy aren't doing Kate Hudson any favors with something this cheesy and annoying that may only be bearable to the most ardent followers of the Lifetime Network. One that should likely make a quick transition to ancillary streams.
A Little Bit of Heaven which stars Hudson (continuing her string of disappointments after Something Borrowed - hopefully some animation work may be the right diversion right now for her) who wished she could have been in films like 50/50 or the undervalued Ghost Town whose accomplished New Orleans marketing businesswoman Marley Corbett could be a character from No Strings Attached. Or, perhaps from American Reunion, though Marley probably wouldn't want to hook up with someone like Steve Stifler. You see, she relies on humor as a barrier against commitment and intimacy.
An anesthetic awareness during a medical exam comes by way of Whoopi Goldberg's God who tells Marley, "Guess what - you're dying!" She is granted three wishes. Nicole Kassell's weighted cliche-fest doesn't let Marley get stressed-out about a terminal colorectal condition so she can have fun with her friends, including goofy Sarah (Lucy Punch), gay best friend Peter (Romany Malco of  Think Like A Man), and happily married and very pregnant Renee (Rosemarie DeWitt from Rachel Getting Married). Things obviously get strained with her parents, an upset mother (Kathy Bates) and a more emotionally estranged father (Treat Williams). At the same time, Marley begins to grow rather fond of her likable oncologist, Julian Goldstein (Gael Garcia Bernal who's been more visible on those Gillette ads of late) which may be the catalyst for her wishes coming true.
All of this might have worked a little more against a sense of disbelief if the mood was modulated in a less jarring way. Perhaps if a darker tone was taken instead of the constant too faux effervescence from Marley perhaps the sentiment would have gone down a little better. But, Kassell who made a fairly provocative drama starring Kevin Bacon called The Woodsman is lost primarily because of being saddled with an insensitive script. Maybe one that fleetingly surprises with the appearance of Peter Dinklage's diminutive escort Vinnie to provide what is titularly implied with a moment of candor and integrity.
The central romance and humor on the whole is too stilted and diagrammatic as Bernal, as sweet as medical specialist Julian (who likes yo-yos) tries to come across, no doubt is struggling to embrace the material. What isn't delved more into is that Julian has a boss (Alan Dale) who admonishes him about spending more time with Marley, as probably other narrative strands dangle in ways that could have been shredded with some needed editing and scenes probably left on the cutting room floor. Love and Other Drugs, as flawed as that Anne Hathaway/Jake Gyllenhaal movie was, still was able to maneuver more credibly between the upbeat and gloomy reality. Despite the vivacity of a debilitating Marley (with some dark makeup under her eyes), Hudson is unable to internalize it with an ingratiating luminosity that has been the trademark of her finest work.
Maybe the appearances of  especially Bates and Williams will add to the heartfelt effect later on. Malco and Punch don't seem too deterred by the stereotypical nature of their roles and are dialed down, notably the former, enough. DeWitt lends gravity to a wistful friend trying to hang on to her personal and impending joy. Yet, A Little Bit of Heaven belies its moniker incoherently in living up to its adventurous (there's hang-gliding like "The Bucket List") ambitions; an uplifting romancer unfolds as an ill-advised weepy.

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