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  Two of a Kind Heavens Above
Year: 1983
Director: John Herzfeld
Stars: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Charles Durning, Oliver Reed, Beatrice Straight, Scatman Crothers, Richard Bright, Vincent Bufano, Toni Kalem, James Stevens, Ernie Hudson, Jack Kehoe, Robert Costanzo, Castulo Guerra, Kathy Bates, Gene Hackman
Genre: Comedy, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Four angels have been in charge of the world for twenty-five years, but prefer to play golf and bicker amongst themselves in heaven. Meanwhile, the situation on the world below grows worse, so bad in fact that when the Almighty returns he has a new plan: a second great flood to wipe humanity from the face of the Earth and start again. The angels cannot take this idea, so make a deal with God to find one person who will restore his faith in His creation. And who do they pick? Step forward lowly would-be inventor Zack (John Travolta), who is about to rob a bank...

You must have seen Grease, right? Massive success all over the world, continues to be popular, almost everyone likes it. But have you seen Two of a Kind? The odds are, probably not, because in spite of reuniting the stars of Grease, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, this conspicuously failed to pack them in at the box office, and it's only a few die hard fans of the duo who have gone out of their way to see it since. This film is part of an occasional strain which will try to recapture those understandably death-obsessed fantasies of the Hollywood forties by putting angels and heaven and whatnot at the heart of their stories.

However, since the forties there have been few successes for this kind of thing, perhaps because their moment has been a gone, but more likely that the scripts were not up to pinning down a concept which at best is gossamer light and difficult to succeed in without being heavy-handed. Such is the case here, which is hamstrung by the fact that to be redeemed, our romantic couple have to be somewhat morally shaky in the first place. Therefore when Zack robs the bank to pay off his gangster debtors who are threatening to cut off his ears the teller he meets, Debbie (Newton-John), is as corrupt as he is.

What she does is give him a bag full of bits of paper, and keeps the cash for herself with Zack getting the blame. Not that this helps at work, because as she hands over the bag, she is overheard asking the robber out, which gets her fired, but as what Debbie really wants to do is become an actress she feels she has the finances now to help her along. Well, she can pay her rent, anyway. Zack, meanwhile, discovers the subterfuge and tracks her down, which is where the romance begins; these two stars do make a sweet couple, and they are both appealing here, it's just the material that lets them down as they seem less quirky than generally unreliable.

That's not all that is going on, as The Devil turns up in the guise of Beasley, played by Oliver Reed with a glint in his eye as if he is enjoying himself enormously (I'm glad somebody was). Beasley gets into spats with the angels, chiefly Charles Durning's Charlie, leading to them showing off their powers over time, which looks more like director and writer John Herzfeld had bought himself a new video recorder while scripting this and was struck with inspiration as the magical characters freeze, rewind and fastforward the non-magical ones. For some reason God is voiced by Gene Hackman, uncredited, though represented by a shimmering light, but mostly his presence is felt as a petulant deity seeing as how we never see the true worst of humanity that has presumably sparked his ire. This might have been better as a musical, and there are a slew of Olivia Newton-John tracks hear - just nothing she mimes to, but in the main it fails to prove any point, whether moral or religious or romantic.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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