WRITTEN BY: Gren Wells
DIRECTED BY: Nicole Kassell
STARRING: Kate Hudson, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kathy Bates, Peter Dinklage, Whoopi Goldberg
RATING: 2 stars
How do you make a romantic comedy about a woman with colon cancer? First, you need to get Kate Hudson onboard because there are few actresses more adorable for audiences to watch. Then you need Peter Dinklage to provide some cheap dwarf jokes and Whoopi Goldberg to play God. Yeah, that will work. Or maybe not. A Little Bit of Heaven falls flat on so many levels. Anyone who has ever been through cancer will tell you that you need to maintain a sense of humour, but you can't make a romantic comedy about cancer - you just can't.
In A Little Bit of Heaven we are introduced to Marley Corbett (Hudson), a successful woman in the world of advertising with commitment issues as a result of her parents' (Treat Williams and Kathy Bates) failed marriage. But that's ok because she has her three best friends (Rosemarie DeWitt, Lucy Punch and Romany Malco) and they're all she needs. That is until Marley finds out she has terminal colon cancer. But that's ok too because, through her cancer treatment, Marley meets a doctor named Julian Goldstein (Gael Garcia Bernal) from Mexico who flirts with her and eventually falls in love with her. Well, maybe in a romantic comedy having cancer isn't so bad after all?
How convenient could it really be that your sexy, foreign doctor falls in love with you, you're slowly dying but you still look good because it's impossible to look bad in a romantic comedy, you win a radio contest and you get an insurance payout so you can splurge on gifts for your friends before you die? Does Hollywood really expect audiences to relate, find humour and enjoy a film like this?
If the dwarfism wasn't enough, there's also a neighbour friend who also happens to be gay AND black. Wow. Not to mention that of course when you're dying the one thing you really want is to settle down with someone, right? Because a woman's life couldn't possibly be complete until she's found "the one". What a shame, Marley laments, that she's going to die before she has any babies. But who wants to spend time with the people they love in their life when there's a man to flirt with and make fall in love with you? Writer Gren Wells has tried to cover far too much in this film. She would have been more successful had she simplified the entire concept.
It’s not all bad or ridiculous though. There are a few touching moments in the film, and I have to admit, I shed a couple of tears. A few of the bonding scenes between Marley and her friends and family are moving, though a little drawn out and repetitive at times. Hudson is good in these scenes though and her chemistry with Bates is strong (unlike her chemistry with Bernal). There are also a few funny moments to lighten the dark mood but again, they provide nothing more than a light giggle at best.
A Little Bit of Heaven has courageously tried to move away from the typical so-called "chick flick" but unfortunately, it doesn't quite get there. If you want to watch a film that deals with love and cancer in a sensitive and beautiful way, you would be better off watching A Walk To Remember.