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'Date With An Angel'

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 21, 1987


Tom McLoughlin
Michael E. Knight;
Phoebe Cates;
Emmanuelle Beart;
David Dukes
Parental guidance suggested

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If you're a guy passed out on the sofa after celebrating your upcoming marriage, what's the best thing that could happen? Easy, right? -- an angel could fall into your swimming pool. Well, yes and no. Angels are wonderful, angels are beautiful (especially if they're played by the French starlet Emmanuelle Beart -- we could call her an actress, but it would be wrong), angels are, you know, special.

But with angels begin responsibilities. The reason for the earthward descent of this heavenly creature in "Date With an Angel" is a brush with an orbiting satellite, which leaves her with a broken wing. (You'd think angels might be exempt from this sort of mishap, but nooooo!) The swimming pool belongs to Jim (Michael E. Knight), a frustrated composer, who is scheduled to be married to Patty (Phoebe Cates). The presence of the angel throws somewhat of a monkey wrench into the works -- especially when Patty discovers the angel (who remains nameless) wrapped in a blanket in Jim's apartment. And matters aren't helped much by Jim's old buddies, who see in the angel a chance to become rich and famous. Or by Patty's father (David Dukes), who owns a cosmetics firm called Ethereal Beauty and envisions the angel as his new cover girl.

The payoff to all this, which was directed in a kind of clodhopper style by Tom McLoughlin, is a lot of grimly unfunny running around, interspersed with innumerable reaction shots of our angel heroine -- accompanied by heavenly chorus-style syntho-music -- as she expresses her horror at the actions of the mortals. These gauzy close-ups are used instead of dialogue because, for some reason, angels can't talk -- until the movie's last scene, Beart doesn't have any lines to speak; she just bleats -- and we could describe the basic angelic look as doe-eyed and beatific. Let's add simpering too.

There are definite benefits, though, to being an angel; you have, as they like to say in comic books, "special powers." But the neatest thing about the job is that your hair has great body and wherever you go there's this extra special heavenly light shining down on you -- even when you're sitting in a car -- to show it off. Still, it's not all roses. Having wings, for example, is sort of a drag. The feathers are pretty, but it's hard to know what to wear with them.

Date With an Angel, at area theaters, is rated PG.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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