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Michael (1996)

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Two tabloid reporters checking out a report of the Archangel Michael living with an old woman find that it's true. But that's not the only surprise.

Director:

Nora Ephron

Writers:

Peter Dexter (story) (as Pete Dexter), Jim Quinlan (story) | 4 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Michael
Andie MacDowell ... Dorothy Winters
William Hurt ... Frank Quinlan
Bob Hoskins ... Vartan Malt
Robert Pastorelli ... Huey Driscoll
Jean Stapleton ... Pansy Milbank
Teri Garr ... Judge Esther Newberg
Wallace Langham ... Bruce Craddock
Joey Lauren Adams ... Anita
Carla Gugino ... Bride
Tom Hodges ... Groom
Catherine Lloyd Burns ... Evie
Richard Schiff ... Italian Waiter
Calvin Trillin ... Sheriff
Donald J. Lee Jr. Donald J. Lee Jr. ... Court Bailiff
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Storyline

Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll, two reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid, along with Dorothy Winters, an 'angel expert', are asked to travel to rural Iowa to investigate a claim from an old woman that she shares her house with a real, live archangel named Michael. Upon arrival, they see that her claims are true - but Michael is not what they expected: he smokes, drinks beer, has a very active libido and has a rather colourful vocabulary. In fact, they would never believe it were it not for the two feathery wings protruding from his back. Michael agrees to travel to Chicago with the threesome, but what they don't realise is that the journey they are about to undertake will change their lives forever. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He's an angel... Not a saint.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for a mild barroom brawl, some language and sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Portuguese

Release Date:

25 December 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Майкл See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,435,711, 29 December 1996

Gross USA:

$95,318,203

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$119,718,203
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although set in Iowa many scenes were filmed in and around New Braunfels, Texas. Gruene Hall, built in 1878 and known as the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas served as, "Joe's," where the dance scene to, "Chain of Fools," and the ensuing bar brawl took place. See more »

Goofs

During the first breakfast scene with Michael, both Dorothy and Frank order their eggs over easy, but you can clearly see that they both get scrambled eggs. See more »

Quotes

Michael: Money Changers!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Sugarcube Critic: Look Before You Sleep (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Chain of Fools
(1967)
Written by Don Covay
Published by Pronto Music (BMI) and Fourteenth Hour Music, Inc. (BMI)
Administered by Warner-Tameriane Publishing Corp. (BMI)
Performed by Aretha Franklin
Produced by Jerry Wexler
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Fairly meandering and aimless but quite inoffensive and certainly not as bad as it looked in it's trailers
21 June 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll are reporters for a trashy tabloid paper who are on a bad run of bad stories. When their editor lays down an ultimatum to them, they bring him a potentially great story – a real life angel. They are accompanied by a supposed angel expert, Dorothy Winters who has really been sent to keep an eye on the reporters for editor Vartan Malt. When they arrive they find the 'angel' to appear to be genuine but to be a lot less, well, angelic than they expected him to be – smoking, drinking and womanising. Michael agrees to go back to Chicago and be in the papers but only if they can travel back by road and make stops along the way. As Michael gets his traveling companions in and out of trouble it begins to seem that he may actually have a bigger aim to achieve than just getting into the papers.

In the UK it is not the 'done thing' to cheer, clap or deride films or trailers in a very public way in the same manner as US audiences will do as the norm (my first time in a US cinema was a surprise when the audience applauded), but it is the reason I will always remember this film. When the trailer was shown in the UK, the audience I was with actually jeered and booed it (myself included) because it just looked so damn lame and stupid. So I skipped it in the cinema (as many did) but then caught it on TV a few years later. Although it is far from a perfect film and its mood and tone are poorly matched it is actually nowhere near as bad as it looked. The story is the usual earthbound angel stuff that Hollywood seems to quite like and it meanders along rather aimlessly, turning into a very vague road movie of sorts. The romance is obvious and uninspiring but generally the film is fun when it manages to have it's tongue in its cheek.

The problem is that it can't decide if it wants to be sappy and romantic or daffy fun. When it tries to be more of a traditional Hollywood romance it doesn't really work that well and indeed is rather laboured. However when it just gets silly and focuses on a really tongue in cheek Michael then it is much more enjoyable as long as you can buy into the sense of humour that it is selling. These two styles don't really come together and they give the film a rather fragmented feel that takes away from the fun (if silly) aspect that stood a good chance of really working if given a little bit more dominance in the film. Sadly the film falls back too much on sentimentality and it sours the mix because it is manufactured, processed, unengaging and quite forced.

For the same reason the performances are mixed. For the most part Travolta is quite funny and just appears to be taking the p*ss and enjoying himself – the way he doesn't seem to take it seriously helped me enjoy the film a lot more. He is silly of course but I found this to be enjoyable in light of the more ponderous 'worthy' roles he has played in the years since his Pulp Fiction comeback. Lumbered with the promise of romance, Hurt is not that good but is nicely cynical for the majority of the movie; MacDowell is painfully lame at times and her character is pretty poor, she is a big part of the reason why it is hard to really care about the romance in the story. Both Pastorelli and Hoskins seem to have fun and share a handful of good lines throughout the movie while little roles for other well known faces vary between the effective (Joey Lauren Adams) and the simply pointless (did Richard Schiff really need work this badly?).

Anyway, the film is not great but it is not awful either. It's mix of the sappy and the silly is pretty badly done and I was left wanting a more engaging romance and a lot more of Travolta's mockingly silly performance. All told it is maybe worth a watch once but it is far from being a good film and, if you don't like John Travolta's performance then there isn't a great deal else to watch it for.


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