Not a fan of Nora Ephron? Well, she hasn’t exactly been knocking them out of the park, lately. What with Bewitched and some fairly weak romantic comedies, it seems like she’s just fallen into a habit of trying to repeat the success of When Harry Met Sally by simply ripping herself off. However, there was a time when Ephron was still willing to push the boundaries of what she was capable of as a writer and create new films, not tired rehashes. My Blue Heaven is one of her best. Give it a try next time you want to download movies.
Steve Martin and Rick Moranis star as, respectively, a member of the Italian mafia, and the FBI agent assigned to protect him until he can testify. Martin is shipped to a picturesque small town and, yes, it’s just another fish out of water movie, but it’s very well done this time, very funny, and when it comes down to it, an old, cliche story is fine so long as it’s done properly.
Of course what really matters is… The movie is funny. Steve Martin hits all the right notes, even the jokes that probably didn’t read all that great in the script, Moranis and Martin have that perfect comedic instinct that helps salvage mediocre material and really knock good material out of the park. The typical odd couple relationship is lent a lot of extra mileage by two funny performers who know how to make the most of material with potential.
It’s very funny watching Martin take over the small town. He meets some of his old buddies, also in the witness protection program, and they all decide to get together and form a sort of mini-mafia of their own. You’d think that watching these guys steal trucks and threaten people in the small town would be scary, but in fact, it’s kind of cute, playful. They have a lot of fun with it and it really does seem like it’s all in the name of having a good time rather than ripping people off.
Interestingly, while the movie does get into some violent subject matter, it never really “gets ugly”. The violence always winds up being funny rather than frightening, which is nice, since it can be difficult to film violence in a comedy just right so as not to disturb the audience. No matter how gritty it gets, though, the movie stays funny against all odds.
Another big source of laughs is in watching Martin effortlessly juggle his two girlfriends and wife. Somehow, these three women never find out about each other, and there’s a suspicion that, if they did, he would find a way to talk his way out of it, like always. Martin’s character is a crook, but such a likable, friendly crook, he could steal your wallet and your heart at the same time.
The movie has a really great look to it. The whole point of the film is the contrast between Martin’s violent, urban upbringing, and the small town friendliness and beauty of his new environs, and the cinematography really does the trick. Martin’s new home is really set in a gorgeous land of blue skies and green hills.
It may not be one of the greatest films ever made, but it’s certainly one of Ephron’s best, every bit as funny as When Harry Met Sally, but also focusing on more interesting subject matter than the same old dating jokes that don’t really hold true for anyone out of their mid twenties.
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