Legend Films // 1990 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Kristin Munson (Retired) // July 7th, 2008
This time, the guy from down under is working for the man upstairs.
Terry Dean (Paul Hogan, Crocodile Dundee) is an electronics genius, an unrepentant burglar, and an ex-con. The problem with those titles is that the police know who to come looking for after every heist, so the newly-paroled Dean switches to robbing banks. When he jumps in front of a truck to save a little boy, he finds himself facing God (Charlton Heston), who tells Terry that the only way he'll get a key to heaven is to pry it out of his cold dead hands. Or to make up for his past misdeeds by acting as an Angel of Mercy, I could be misremembering.
Almost an Angel is a modern variation of fanciful '40s comedies like On Borrowed Time and Miracle on 34th Street, where the audience knows the supernatural stuff is real while everyone around the character doubts their sanity. Where Almost an Angel goes wrong is that it wants it both ways. The movie makes it painstakingly obvious at every turn that Terry is not a real angel but it pulls a 180 in the final reel hoping to tug at your heartstrings.
Paul Hogan brings his usual casual everyman charm along with to the role of Terry Dean, but he can't sustain the lightweight plot, no matter how well he fills out his jeans. Most of the jokes dry up when Dean ends up in a small-town, along with all of the originality. How derivative are we talking? Let me count the ways:
* Mousy woman becomes a stunner when she lets down her hair and takes off
* Rec center for needy kids is in danger of closing unless it gets a lot of money very quickly.
* Big last-act speech about the power of belief that instantly converts the remaining naysayer.
Okay so there's that one foot-chase between a fat cop and a paraplegic that makes the last half hour worthwhile, but the rest is more like a pilot for a remake of Highway to Heaven than a fully realized story.
Linda Kozlowski is on hand again to play Hogan's love interest (the two were married the same year the movie was released) but Hogan has more spark with her character's wheelchair-bound brother (Elias Koteas, Zodiac). The two even go coasting down a hill with Terry riding on Steve's lap as the wind blows through their hair. Take that, Titanic!
Almost an Angel comes complete with an unremarkable widescreen/2.0 stereo combo and nothing else. Not surprising considering this was released through the new Legend imprint, whose marketing strategy seems to be to slap a previously unavailable title onto a disc and toss it the general direction of store shelves. I seriously doubt that Hogan's so busy that he couldn't pop in for a commentary or a token introduction.
An inoffensive but insubstantial family comedy, Almost an Angel has its moments, but the DVD presentation screams "Coming Soon to a Bargain Bin Near You!"
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Legend Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated PG