Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 7, 2017)
In 1990, a modest bevy of gangster movies hit the screens. GoodFellas ended up as a classic, while Godfather Part III managed a decent public profile, albeit one that seems less than stellar now.
And then there’s My Blue Heaven. Not only did it hit screens prior to the other two – it debuted in August, while the other two arrived in the fall – but also it offered the only comedy of the bunch.
Heaven largely seems to be forgotten by audiences even though it boasted a pretty good array of talent. Written by Nora Ephron, directed by Herbert Ross and starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, the movie fizzled at the box office and vanished quickly.
I know that I didn’t much care for Heaven back in 1990, but I felt curious to give it a second try 27 years later. Mobster Vinnie Antonelli (Martin) decides to rat out his colleagues, and as part of his deal, he and his wife Linda (Deborah Rush) go into the Witness Protection Program.
FBI Agent Barney Coopersmith (Moranis) receives the assignment to assist the Antonellis, and he soon winds up with more than he anticipated. Vinnie wants to do what Vinnie wants to do, so Barney struggles to wrangle his loose cannon client.
As I noted earlier, Heaven comes with a strong array of talent. In addition to the participants I mentioned earlier, the film includes actors Joan Cusack, Daniel Stern, Melanie Mayron, Bill Irwin, Carol Kane and William Hickey.
What with all these folks under the hood, how could Heaven flop? I don’t know, but flop it does, as the film provides a relentlessly bland, forgettable experience.
On the surface, Heaven comes ripe for humor. A comedic look at a New York gangster stuck in suburbia boasts potential, and with Martin, Moranis and the others involved, hilarity seems inevitable.
Sadly, next to no laughs actually materialize here, as Heaven presents a loose, rambling tale. Its modest plot exists as nothing more than an excuse for various comedic situations, virtually none of which amuse.
To my surprise, the actors fail to add spark to the proceedings. The usually reliable Martin plays Vinnie like a Saturday Night Live character, and not one that succeeds. He lets his silly wig and overdone accent act for him, with little comedy along the way.
Moranis seems underused as the straight man. Moranis boasted a ton of talent, but he doesn’t get the right part here, as he underplays Barney so severely that any potential laughs wither on the vine.
Even at 95 minutes, Heaven becomes an endurance test, as it drags and drags. Little entertainment arises in this dull comedy.