Just Like Heaven (2005)

(Netflix Streaming, November 2015)  To be honest, I didn’t expect much from Just Like Heaven, which first presents itself as a basic supernatural romantic comedy: A man moves into an apartment vacated under mysterious circumstances, and soon discovers that he’s sharing space with the ghost of a feisty woman who doesn’t realize she’s dead.  Various hijinks follow, all the way to an improbable happy ending.  Standard stuff, except for a better-than-average execution and some good comic moments.  Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon are both very good the lead roles, Mark Waters directs everything with rhythm and the basic concept of a ghost trying to connect with a real live human are good for some unexpected pieces of physical comedy.  It does inevitably dip into drama later on, but no worries: the ending is as happy as anything you’d expect.  Don’t focus on the finer points of the plotting or the obvious emotional manipulation and you’ll be just fine: San Francisco plays itself well, the side-characters are fun, and the film hooks you up without too much trouble.  I started Just Like Heaven as background watching while I was doing something else, and ended up stopping my work to watch the film more often than I’d thought.  That doesn’t make it a great movie… but it does make it quite a bit better than I expected.

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