Good news for horror fans: Six years after Haley Joel Osment first saw dead people, the gimmick is finally safe for romantic comedy. Surely the end of the cycle is nigh. Reese Witherspoon stars as overworked internist Elizabeth, the latest movie character who can’t quite figure out if she’s dead or alive, after a 26-hour stretch at the hospital leads to a possibly fatal car accident. When lost and lonely David (a bewildered Mark Ruffalo) moves into Elizabeth’s San Francisco apartment, he soon discovers that he’ll have to share its spacious accommodations with a peculiarly energetic ghost playing the role of mother, AA counselor, and overall killjoy. Elizabeth, of course, is only visible to David, setting up lots of confused third-party reaction shots, awkward physical comedy, and repeated jokes about “seeing someone.” Witherspoon’s oft charming perkiness is merely patronizing here, but mid-’90s MTV staple Donal Logue steals every scene he’s in as an ethically challenged therapist. Fraught with anxiety about the spiritual consequences of overwork, Just Like Heaven feels contemporary enough, but the movie’s level of imagination is best captured by its painfully literal-minded soundtrack, which includes such topical material as “Just My Imagination,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and the theme from Ghostbusters.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 6, 2005