Friday, June 24, 2016

Movie Review: "Always" (1989)

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Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 1989
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

After a fire fighting pilot named Pete (Richard Dreyfuss) dies in the line of duty, he returns to Earth as an invisible guardian angel. He is meant to guide a young pilot named Ted (Brad Johnson) through his troubles, but when this young pilot falls for Pete's old girlfriend Dorinda (Holly Hunter), Pete has to make a choice: he can either do what's best for him, or do what's best for Dorinda and Ted.

Directed by Steve Spielberg, "Always" is a modernized remake of the film "A Guy Named Joe." It stars Richard Dreyfuss as Pete, a daredevil fire fighting pilot who often takes unnecessary risks to get the job done. He works with his best friend Al, played by one of our favorites John Goodman, and his girlfriend Dorinda, played by Holly Hunter. After agreeing to stop taking risks and to finally settle down with Dorinda, Pete goes out for one more mission, where he dies saving Al's life. Though it sounds a little cliche, this entire scene is extremely effective in the manner in which it is handled. It's an impactful, necessary, tasteful scene, even though someone is perishing. Now, a dead Pete has become a guardian angel and is meant to guide a young, up-and-coming pilot named Ted, played by Brad Johnson, through his training and his life. In turn, Ted is guided by Hap, played by Audrey Hepburn in her final on-screen appearance. The entire thing becomes this existential love triangle when Ted falls for Dorinda, who is still in the process getting over the loss of Pete, but also starts to have feelings for Ted, too. Pete must come to a decision about whether or not he can set aside his own feelings and let Dorinda move on with her life.

"Always" is a different type of romance to say the least, though it could be compared to something like "Ghost" in terms of plot. This is a film about moving on with your life after a loved one dies, something that can and will be very difficult for some. This is a movie made by one of the greatest modern day directors, Steven Spielberg, and boasts an excellent cast featuring Dreyfuss, Hunter, Goodman, and even Audrey Hepburn, all of whom act the hell out of their parts. Some might see this as an odd choice for Spielberg. Unfortunately, not a lot of his signature directorial style can be found here. We can't help but feel this film is missing something. There is a certain amount of emotional depth lacking within its story, even for such an emotionally charged subject matter. It more of a ghost tale than an honest love story, and a sappy one at that. Maybe it's because we never fully bought in to the relationship between Dorinda and Ted. If we're being honest, we think Dorinda seemed to have much better chemistry with both Al and Pete than she did with Ted. For some reason, Ted, who is portrayed as a handsome heartthrob, seems better suited with the bumbling mechanic Rachel, played by Marg Helgenberger, than with Dorinda.

All this being said, "Always" does have an impressive cast and is still very watchable despite the lack of a connection between characters later on in the movie. There are a few light, humorous moments despite being billed as a drama, though when the drama comes, it comes in droves and is filled to the brim with sap and cheese. We would consider this one of Spielberg's most forgettable films and nothing that happens within its 122 minute run time is all that memorable long term.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Inventing the Abbotts"

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