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I thought Dead Like Me was one of the... funniest.. saddest..
smartest.. and just quirkiest shows ever on the air. This film takes
place, picking up 5 years later, where everyone left off.. mostly. Now
the biggest complain has been the absence of Rube (Mandy Patinkin) as
the boss.. a tragic loss to be sure. and the recasting of Sarah Wynter
in the role of Daisy Adair, formerly filled by Laura Harris. I will
only say.. not to give too much away.. but they got MOST of the cast
back.. and a pretty decent.. I won't say it is a definitive conclusion,
as it could be left open to more DTV films. But at least it felt there
was a punctuation at the end of the sentence which had been hanging for
almost half a decade.
I will be the first to admit the movie has its MAJOR problems.. but over all, rough edges and everything.. it is a pretty decent representation of what the best of the show offered, although not quite as adeptly written, or acted.. its much harder to fill in a 90 minute film with so many characters as opposed to a dozen hour episodes yearly. This does seem more done for the "fans" who've missed the show. and its still a welcome return, if not at its best.
I have waited a year & 1/2 for this movie. So I was more than a bit
excited to finally see it.
I am happy to say, it was good. I would LIKE to have given it 10/10, but, I don't think it was excellent.
It certainly takes the shows aspects & uses them well. It does a lot of explaining at the start for newcomers, so you can at least try to follow what was a 2 year TV program with some sense of logic.
First, let me pick at the things I didn't like. I was thrown off by Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) having a new voice in the starting scenes (which were done to a comic book styling & I personally did not really like...liked it even less when they used it again later in the program. Its like they were trying to fill film space.). But once the show started, her more familiar raspy (but not sounding like a 60 year smoker like in the opening credits) voice seemed to come back. Also, the idea that reapers never change appearance is hard to swallow when Georgia clearly looks older than 18, and Daisy has changed noticeably. The new "boss" Cameron Kane (Henry Ian Cusack) was annoying as hell, he didn't catch on to me in any way & I quite admittedly was rooting for his departure the whole way thru. He cant replace Rube, and it was one of the shows biggest flaws in trying to replace him. No more Der Waffle Haus, this was a staple of the show & if they do more movies, or bring the show back, they have to recreate it. It was sorely missed. I didn't like the new Happy Time, it looked too high end for HT. There is a scene where Delores (Christna Willes) & Georgia are interviewing someone with another co-worker, and its in a conference room that you would envision in fortune 500 companies, instead of a temp agency. Daisy Adair (Sarah Wynter...played by Laura Harris on the TV series) was "good" but again, like Cameron/Rube, you cant replace the original & in this case they literally tried to. Daisy suddenly has no southern accent & seemed to go back to the shallow Daisy of the first few episodes, instead of the complex Daisy of the later episodes.
Now, what worked. The cast still were able to pull off their roles to perfection. Mason (Callum Blue) looked, acted and sounded like Mason most of the time. His character showed no change & his idiotic incompetent slacker mentality was placed in perfectly when needed. Roxy (Jasmine Guy) was in fine form & showed even more attitude than she did on many episodes of the show...which is great, since we are to believe she has this ass kicking attitude, which only was shown a handful of times in the series, here it was in almost every scene (except where she meets the Police commissioner & oddly turns Daisy like for a minute). Georgia was still great. Her dry sarcastic tone was a little lighter in this, but its still there. Her interaction with her sister was maybe too short (hey, 2 more scenes of that to build it up more would of been great instead of cartoon drawings wasting film). Her expression & words at the end of the episode were perfect as she is showered in a downfall of post it notes. It also gives the viewers overwhelming hope, that if there is another movie, or return of the show that a much needed return may happen. It was both wonderful, and frustrating to me. Wonderful in the hint that there could be a return. Frustrating in the possible false hope, or worse yet, if there isn't anymore episodes, no way to tie up that loose end. The supporting cast of Delores & Joy (Cynthia Stevenson) were quite good when they had screen time. Reggie (Britt McKillip) got more screen time than probably ever before & she ran with it well. She has grown up, she has matured, and she has developed a life. Of course, she is still haunted by her sisters untimely death & when she is confronted with the possible death of someone else she is close to, she is pulled back in after possibly just finally getting on with her life. I always liked Reggies character on the show, and was glad they gave her a lot more screen time here. Her interactions with Joy & Georgia was terrific & really added to the movie IMO. I was disappointed how little screen time was given to Crystal (Crystal Dahl) as Happy Times mainstay receptionist, and the fact there was no Kiffany at all.
The movie opened up as many doors as it closes. Which is good for giving a new movie/return of the show room to move, but it is bad if there is no more as many questions are again unanswered.
As an avid fan, I was going in, with high expectations & low hopes. I was demanding excellence, since thats what the show always brought. But I was fearful it wouldn't meet up to that level & be a giant dud. I am pleased to say that it was good enough that it will make most DLM fans happy. Could it be better? Yes. Could it have been worse, DEFINITELY.
It was most certainly worth the 87 minutes I spent watching it thru the credits. Any DLM fan has to see it, if for no reason than to go down memory lane & keep up to tabs if there is a resurrection of the show (lets hope).
Hopefully the execs at MGM are taking notice of the great reviews its getting everywhere & bring the show back.........with Rube & the original Daisy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If there is one thing that could be said of the television series of
Dead Like Me, it's that it was made great by it's superb characters and
a moving theme. Despite having a great premise, the plot was never the
strong point of the series, sometimes undermined by inconsistencies and
Now in 2009, Dead Like Me: Life After Death offers all of the same plot inconsistencies but with none of the excellent characters which made us fall in love with the original series. The characters in the film are extremely shallow, and altogether unfaithful to their originals. Of the original team of reapers who made it to this film (George, Roxy, Mason, Daisy), all but George are condensed in to a few clichés. In fact the presence of these characters only serves as a function of nostalgia, as their contribution to the story has been mangled and broken beyond comprehension.
The main story is told through George and Reggie, whose paths become intertwined after Reggie's secret boyfriend is critically injured in a road accident. The heart of the story explores the relationship between the sisters as George's identity is uncovered and Reggie reveals her true feelings towards the boy. There is a sub-plot involving the other reapers and the shady new head reaper Cameron, but it reads more like a collection of ideas and events than a cohesive story. After squeezing all of these ideas in to the short screen time, you're left with a sub-plot which is underdeveloped, inadequately explained and ultimately shallow. The Happy Time sections were as pointless as they were unnecessary, highlighting a failed attempt to incorporate Delores' character in to an already disjoint storyline.
The absence of Rube's character is tangible whilst watching the film. To make matters worse, the beginning of the film draws attention to his absence, only to abandon it a quarter of the way in. This only serves to emphasise his absence.
George's character is a mostly faithful reproduction from the series. However, a lack of character development diminishes her significance in the story. Despite being the main character, I'm left with a feeling that George's only purpose in this story was to play the supporting role for her sister.
Reggie's character has changed significantly from the original series. In fact one could be forgiven for mistaking the now 18 year old Britt McKillip as an entirely different actress. The once gawky, confused and insecure girl is replaced by a teenager who is just plain insecure. Despite this, it feels like an acceptable continuation of the original character. Ultimately, Dead Like Me: Life After Death is about the evolution of Reggie's character and her ability to finally accept the reality, inevitability and absoluteness of death. If it's closure from the series that you seek in this film, then it is at least granted to Reggie's character with moderate success.
Overall, Dead Like Me: Life After Death comes across as a disjointed set of events and ideas, lacking cohesion, direction and purpose. If you seek nostalgia then you will be disappointed by this film. If you seek closure then you will be disappointed by this film. It does however have an extremely cryptic ending, lending itself to the possibility of a sequel or new series. Unfortunately, I just can't escape the feeling that the golden goose is dead.
After reading a few bad reviews of 'Dead Like Me: Life After Death', I
was prepared for something not very good. What I got was like watching
a necrophiliac having his way with the corpse of that wonderful show.
How Stephen Godchaux and John Masius, both regular writers on the
series, could seemingly have so little connection to everything that
made that series special is a deep mystery (and I don't feel good
slagging this off, as I've enjoyed their work in the past).
Where the series had been original, lively, funny, poignant and quirky (in the good way, which is a rarity), this thing is irritating, boring, not even remotely amusing and feels disrespectful and opportunistic. The threadbare plot involving a callow replacement for the sadly absent Rube (performed with subtlety and wit in the series by Mandy Patinkin) is a bust that never goes anywhere or even resolves itself. That Rube's substitute is a man who was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11 is in particularly bad taste, especially since it adds nothing to his character, who is a miserable creep; it's just a weird throwaway. The replacement of series original Laura Harris, as Daisy Adair, is also a major trouble spot. Sarah Wynter, in a word, is awful. Harris's Daisy was imbued with a knowing sadness under her surface superficiality. Wynter just devours the scenery playing Daisy as a vapid, talentless idiot.
It's nice that talented original cast members Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, et al, got work, but they deserved a better vehicle than this shoddy, mawkish mess.
If you are a fan of the Showtime series, do yourself a favor and skip this. Once you've watched it you can't un-watch it and doing so will only make you mourn anew the premature death of the original. Which, I suppose, is apt.
While it was nice to see the return of the show, this reeked of
Straight to DVD production value.
The excessive use of slow-mo and transitional effects were annoying to me, the original series just had a more polished feel to it.
The story line was OK, while it was good they tied up the absence of Rube. His general presence was missed, he kept everyone grounded.
In all honesty this movie has lost some of the charm of the series that made it quirky and dark. I am not saying it's bad, I just think they could have done so much better with how long this has been in production.
And to anyone who may quip that I am looking to find fault I watched the series when it had it's run on TV and bought the DVD's when they came out. I love the series as much as the next person and I want to see it picked up again but not at the expense of the story and the ideals that made the series what it was.
I'm a fan of the original show, so reading the (rather negative)
reviews here at IMDb I had very low expectations for _Dead Like Me:
Life After Death_. I mean -- no Rube? A different Daisy? George looks
different? Why should I even bother to rent this? But I did -- and I'm
happy to report that _DLM:LAD_ is a really good movie, *much* better
than you'd think reading about it here. The stuff that I thought would
bug me (no Rube etc) didn't matter at all. There are two major plot
lines and both are engaging and well-written. Without giving anything
away, one of the plots involves George's mom and sister; I always
thought the "George's family" segments dragged in the original show,
but in the movie George's sister Reggie has grown up and she brightens
the screen whenever she appears. The writing is good and a couple of
lines had me on the floor ("je ne sais quoi"), plus there are a number
of "we always wanted to see *that*!" moments which I won't spoil for
Yes, George looks older but her new look grew on me pretty quickly. If I had to make one change, I'd have added more exposition about Crystal, but maybe some things are never meant to be known.
In short: thumbs up, a good movie following up on a wonderful show.
as every DLM fan knows,things change. There comes a time to let it go, don't look back, move on. It's just a shame that the amateurs got hold of this, since they clearly don't understand what reaping is all about or what any reasonable end to this story would be. Actually, they do get it in their handling of Mandy Patinkin's unavailability to replay Rube, but apparently they weren't listening to themselves or they would have known how to deal with the absence of Laura Harris. Sarah Wynter is probably a perfectly nice person and decent actress but she is not the Daisy we came to love/hate. not even close. Henry Cusick as the new head reaper is as slimy as the script wants him to be, but what kind of warped sensibility wanted him to be that? It's lovely to see the grown up Britt McKillip, and making un-George a whole lot more attractive should have been done in the first place. Otherwise, nothing to see here, move along.
I guess one could label me a fan of this series, since I own both
season 1 and 2 DVD box sets and today I purchased this movie. However I
am not here to put frosting on the cake. Any TV series is better than
the movie from any point of view. Take into consideration that the
writers can afford a few episodes that fail over a two year season. One
tends to remember the great episodes and push aside the crappy the
ones. So in a nutshell you cannot compare any movie to the series.
I was happy to see they managed to get about 80% of the original cast back after 5 years of doing nothing. I enjoyed the movie but it lacked revelations. There was no cosmic secrets answered about the show. It merely asked more questions and some to most of the characters seemed to take a back seat. I was hoping they would use the opportunity to expand on the "Reaper Society" and I kind of thought that was where the plot was heading but somehow failed to push through.
The focus of the film is on Georgia and Reggie and unfortunately characters like Mason, Roxy, and Daisy become less significant than they should be in this film. The subplot with Cameron Kane wasn't well developed and makes the movie fall short of the mark.
So why did I give the move a seven out of ten? That in my honest opinion is a "C" average. It is just OK but could have been better. Sadly due to the nature of the story that reapers never grow old they won't be able to make another. The actress Ellen Muth is showing her age. I sincerely hope she can move on to better roles but I am afraid she will always be haunted by the series and movie.
ideally, it would be that they were trying to tie up loose ends left when the show was canceled...but i guess that would be a bit too much to ask... there are so many shows that, when they get gone, leave the viewers with little to no resolution. or, if you're from California...closure. 'deadwood' and 'john from cincinnati' come readily to mind... so when i saw that these people had made a movie i thought, 'great. a studio that cares about its audience...'. maybe. maybe not. personally, i would've rather they made no follow up than a foul up... there's LOTS of things that are, at best, unsatisfactory about this project. first off, for me, was the 'new' daisy adair...easily one of the most dynamic characters of the show, though a 'latecomer'...and boy, if people want to see the difference a good actress makes, they need look no further than here...i imagine the actress that played daisy saw this as a good opportunity to, pardon the pun, make a killing... seems the studio decided they didn't need her THAT badly. bad decision... but it would seem that's only one of many... see this if you must. just don't get your hopes up. or you did like me...
First of all, regardless what you think of the movie, if you haven't
yet gotten both seasons of the series on DVD, by all means, get your
copies of those as soon as possible & watch them!
Is change good or bad? Well, I suppose that can only be answered, "yes." You see, it matters what is being changed, & how that change manifests itself. Having so stated, I generally prefer the familiar which means that I generally abhor change.
In the broadcast versions of Dead Like Me, we lost Betty Rhomer (Rebecca Gayheart) after 5 episodes, & though I didn't then share with her fans profound enthusiasm for her character or performance, I had grown accustomed to her, & I was deeply disappointed.
My initial reaction to the appearance of Daisy Adair (Laura Harris) was, "OMG, they've gone "replacement blonde" in an effort to boost ratings, using the 'sex sells' model in a show not only that isn't about sex, but also that doesn't have a significant sexual component." I thought at first that the show was ruined, but I kept watching; what I quickly discovered is that Harris is a most excellent actress & that the writers understood how to integrate Daisy into the DLM story.
That Harris is very easy on the eyes turned out to be a bonus a perfect dessert to follow the substantial main course. In that case, every aspect of the change was surprisingly good.
That isn't to discount Gayheart, who is in every sense a fine actress, but to recognize that Harris earned her fans after Gayheart had already set the bar awfully high.
As the story unfolded, I was pleasantly amazed to discover the actors & writers taking the DLM experience to a level even higher than where the show began; then, in a flash, the de-orbiting toilet seat of fortune snuffed-out my favorite show.
Some time later, I was elated to discover there was being made a DLM movie & I looked forward to its theatrical release: all we DLM fans & I would be vindicated when the box office numbers were tallied. Then I learned the movie was going to be direct-to-DVD.
Okay, that's a minor setback but as soon as Rube Sofer (Mandy Patinkin) starts bustin' chops in the trailer, when people get a chance to see ... WHAT? No Rube? & Daisy stays, but someone else is going to play her? I was immediately overwhelmed with the sensation that the DLM franchise had been lost: clearly, the universe had gone mad. Or had it?
I own the complete first season of Dead Like Me, two sets of the complete second season of Dead Like Me, & now I own the direct-to-DVD movie Dead Like Me: Life After Death. Yes, I've watched them all (plus every episode of the series as it aired on Showtime, & most or all of the SciFi rebroadcasts). Kudos to the team that edited the SciFi versions: they seamlessly replaced the "foul language," so that the censorship wasn't obvious.
Without spoilers: my overall impression of Dead Like Me: Life After Death is that, like the series, it is too short; by that, I mean that it left me wanting much, much more! But, isn't that the whole idea? There were some plot twists that I think were inevitable for reason of continuity, & it's always tough to overcome prejudice arising from actor substitution.
Pleasantly, the movie also focuses more on George Lass (Ellen Muth) than did the broadcast series. This is probably as much a result of the crutch principle as anything else, but it works in a way that really saves the movie.
"Saves"? Okay, maybe that's a bit strong: remember, I'm prejudiced by the broadcasts. In reality, there's an awful lot of development that happens through the series that doesn't readily translate through the movie format, & that requires compromises.
The makers of Dead Like Me: Life After Death brilliantly incorporated storyboards to aid in the transition between scenes & to bring the uninitiated up to speed without boring longtime fans of the series.
However, even these conceits left a lot to be condensed into its 87-minute runtime, & that means among the reapers that the roles of Daisy Adair (Sarah Wynter), Roxy Harvey (Jasmine Guy) & Mason (Callum Blue) are minimized & stereotyped.
Some purists will take issues with the scripting as it relates to character development within the movie. In the end, I think the directors & editors did the best that could reasonably be expected from a comparatively short feature movie format.
I urge the readers of this review to obtain for themselves a copy of the DLM direct-to-DVD movie Dead Like Me: Life After Death; even though it is set 5 years after the George's death, it works in several different ways: 1) It is a passably good introduction of the DLM series to the uninitiated; or, alternatively, 2) It is a passably good ending to the DLM story: if it goes no further, DLM fans won't feel completely cheated; or, alternatively, 3) It is an EXCELLENT bridge between the DLM series & future DLM productions.
Given the diversity of missions & objectives defined by the DLM fanbase, & Given the budgetary constraints & political battles that threatened to kill the project before it got the green light, plus the myriad hurdles that threatened its survival during production, & Given the post-production, mastering, manufacturing & distribution problems that cropped up, that this movie ever got distributed is barely less than a miracle, & those factors must be considered in any reasonable review of this movie.
I got mine through Amazon.com; if you haven't ordered your copy yet, order it today! Review, comments by The Wireflight Group // 20090228-2021
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