The Heavenly Kid (1985)

Rating:

USA. 1985.

Crew

Director – Cary Medoway, Screenplay – Cary Medoway & Martin Copeland, Producer – Mort Engelberg, Photography – Steven Poster, Music – Kennard Ramsey, Visual Effects – Louis Schwartzberg, Special Effects – R.J. Hohman, Production Design – Ron Hobbs. Production Company – Engelberg-Sumner-Chelkes

Cast

Lewis Smith (Bobby Fontana), Jason Gedrick (Lenny Barnes), Richard Mulligan (Rafferty), Jane Kaczmarek (Emily), Nancy Valen (Melissa), Anne Sawyer (Sharon), Stephen Gregory (Fred Gallo), Mark Metcalf (Joe Barnes)


Plot

In the 1960s, teenager Bobby Fontana is involved in a chicken race – where two opponents head towards the edge of a cliff in cars, the one who bails out the first being the ‘chicken’. However, Bobby’s sleeve is caught in the door of his car and he goes over the cliff. In the afterlife, he finds himself aboard the train to Uptown but is not allowed to get off. Instead, he is sent back to the present day as a guardian angel with a mission to help nerdish, bullied teenager Lenny Barnes stand up for himself.


To find a film that glides along on an insubstantial foundation of cliches more than The Heavenly Kid does would take some looking. It is a standard 1940s light fantasy guardian angel story crosshatched with a 1980s teen movie underdog-wins-out fantasy. It is told entirely by the numbers – teen geek Jason Gedrick finds supernatural intervention as an aid to being popular, succeeds with women, faces the romantic choice between a Good Girl and a Bad Girl, before coming to the realisation that being popular is not all it is cracked up to be. The film is served by a series of amazingly banal songs and some cheap slapstick invisibility effects gags. There is a mild degree of sincerity engendered towards the middle of the film.

In the angel role, Lewis Smith’s character starts out as a gawky-eared nerd but surprisingly manages to grow and becomes likable by the end of the film; however, the source of his aid Jason Gedrick remains an annoying geek the entire way through. The afterlife is played with a thorough ecumenical vagueness – Heaven and Hell are only euphemistically referred to as Uptown and Downtown, God as The Big Chief.



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