It seems everyone is trying to get into heaven; at least those whose time is up. For Lance Barton, a struggling comedian and bicycle messenger, it's the last thing on his mind. His due date upstairs is 50 years away. In the meantime, he's got big dreams to pursue on Earth, such as landing a slot at the final Amateur Night Contest at the famed Apollo Theatre. Lance's has one little problem though - he ain't that funny. Thanks to an over-cautious emissary from heaven, Mr. Keyes, he's going to get hit (literally) with a much bigger problem. Showing that even God has difficulty finding good help these days, the inept minion mistakenly plucks Lance from a traffic accident - before it takes place. Transporting him to the Pearly Gates, or more accurately, the velvet roped-lines of the hottest club around, the error is finally addressed by Mr. King, the streetwise, no-nonsense head angel who manages the place from his plush windowed office. Since returning to his own body on Earth is ... Written by
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A black variation of "Heaven Can Wait"? Why not "Casablanca" or "The Maltese Falcon"?
Chris Rock, apparently desperate for a cozy star-vehicle which would cross his appeal over to white and mainstream black audiences, updates the hit 1978 comedy "Heaven Can Wait" with an urban agenda. He plays a struggling comedian involved in a car accident who has his soul removed too soon from his body--consequently, his angels must find another body to place him in, and can only come up with that of a white businessman. Rewriting a movie as bland and sentimental as "Heaven Can Wait" only shows that Rock's eye was on the box-office (this was strictly a corporate move organized by the most mercenary of Hollywood players). Why not strive for something loftier or more memorable than a silly reincarnation comedy that culminates with an Evening at the Apollo? Terrific supporting cast (including the usually-reliable Regina King, the wonderful Mark Addy, Wanda Sykes, Eugene Levy, and terrific Frankie Faison) do what they can, but Rock seems awkward and unsure of himself throughout. *1/2 from ****
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