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‘Almost an Angel’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 20, 1990


John Cornell
Paul Hogan;
Elias Koteas;
Linda Kozlowski
Parental guidance suggested

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Watching Paul Hogan in "Almost an Angel" is like watching somebody take his afternoon nap, and just about as exciting. Hogan, who made his international reputation as "Crocodile" Dundee and wrote as well as executive-produced this new project, delivers his lines here as if the sandman had just sprinkled his script -- he gives them the Perry Como treatment. He blinks once for the setup, twice for the punch line.

The gag here is that Hogan's character -- a lifelong second-story man named Terry -- gets out of prison just in time to shove a kid out of the path of a speeding van, saving the boy's life but ending his own. Possibly. All this could be just a dream, but while in the hospital, Terry gets a courtesy call from God, who manifests Himself in the form of Charlton Heston (dressed in his Moses outfit). Though Terry's a "scumbag," he did give his life in the most noble manner possible, and so he is sent back to Earth for a second chance, this time as an angel of mercy. To help the needy and whatnot.

There is one small technicality: Terry's angelic status is probationary. "I'm bulletproof, but I can't fly," he tells a skeptical priest. But what Hogan and his director, John Cornell, fail to tell us is just how he is supposed to earn his wings. What he does is amble around in his jeans and knit cap, dispensing his laid-back, preachy beneficence to all comers, sort of like a folksy barroom Saint Nick. All this is meant to be heartwarming, though at best it manages only to be innocuous. Hogan takes mellow to its furthest extreme. Any further and he wouldn't have a pulse. Except for a grotesque plug for "Godfather III" (another Paramount film), "Almost an Angel" isn't obnoxious; it doesn't have the energy for that. It's gentle and unassuming and ... zzz-zzz-zzz-zzz ...

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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