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Meet Joe Black (1998)

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Death, who takes the form of a young man, asks a media mogul to act as a guide to teach him about life on Earth, and in the process, he falls in love with his guide's daughter.

Director:

Martin Brest

Writers:

Ron Osborn (screenplay), Jeff Reno (screenplay) | 6 more credits »
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Popularity
191 ( 1,595)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Pitt ... Joe Black / Young Man in Coffee Shop
Anthony Hopkins ... William Parrish
Claire Forlani ... Susan Parrish
Jake Weber ... Drew
Marcia Gay Harden ... Allison
Jeffrey Tambor ... Quince
David S. Howard David S. Howard ... Eddie Sloane
Lois Kelly-Miller Lois Kelly-Miller ... Jamaican Woman
Jahnni St. John Jahnni St. John ... Jamaican Woman's Daughter
Richard Clarke Richard Clarke ... Butler
Marylouise Burke ... Lillian
Diane Kagan Diane Kagan ... Jennifer
June Squibb ... Helen
Gene Canfield ... Construction Foreman
Suzanne Hevner ... Florist
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Storyline

Bill Parrish, media tycoon, loving father and still a human being, is about to celebrate his 65th birthday. One morning, he is contacted by the Inevitable - by hallucination, as he thinks. Later, Death itself enters his home and his life, personified in a man's body: Joe Black has arrived. His intention was to take Bill with him, but accidentally, Joe's former host and Bill's beautiful daughter Susan have already met. Joe begins to develop certain interest in life on earth as well as in Susan, who has no clue who she's flirting with. Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He's Expecting You. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for an accident scene, some sexuality and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Universal

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Dutch

Release Date:

13 November 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meet Joe Black See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,017,995, 15 November 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$44,619,100

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$142,940,100
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited TV)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Eli Roth had an early job working as a stand-in during production of this film, but was fired by Martin Brest due to a misconception. Reportedly, Roth was asked to walk with an awkward "bouncing" motion to appear "taller" (as he was physically shorter than the actor he was doubling) while the crew set up a shot and lighting with him. Brest happened to walk by, saw Roth's awkward movement, and declared him to be "one untalented stand-in" before ordering him to be immediately fired, not realizing he had been instructed by the crew to move that way. Roth was later re-hired as a Production Assistant, but this was kept secret from Brest to avoid trouble. See more »

Goofs

The amount of ice in Bill's scotch glass varies from shot to shot when the family is having drinks. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Construction Foreman: Please. Please. Don't worry. Don't worry.
Allison: It's utter chaos around here. And I'm terrified we're running out of time. Am I trying to be too perfect?
See more »

Alternate Versions

TV version shortens the scene when Joe is hit by the cars. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: David Spade/Eagle-Eye Cherry (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Isn't This A Lovely Day
Written by Irving Berlin
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User Reviews

 
Reflective And Philosophical
16 January 2005 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

For a long time I put off watching this, because I have no interest in superficial, teen comedy flicks, as implied by the film's pedestrian title and by the casting of a youthful Brad Pitt. But "Meet Joe Black" is anything but "superficial", and "teen comedy" does not describe this movie at all.

Set in contemporary New York, the film follows a wealthy family whose patriarchal sixty-five year old head, played by Anthony Hopkins, is nearing the end of his life. Enter "Joe Black" (Brad Pitt), a handsome, but enigmatic, young man with an unusual agenda.

This is a thought-provoking movie about mortality and emotional separation. It will appeal to viewers with a reflective and philosophical nature. But the film also has humor, which keeps it from being grim. The pace is slow. There's lots of silence and stillness, entirely appropriate, given the subject matter. Among other things, the film presents the novel idea that a supernatural being can be subject to human emotions, and can make mistakes in judgment resulting from those emotions.

The film is not perfect. The plot is a tad egocentric. There's no reference to the universality and ongoing occurrence of death outside the confines of this family. Also, why now? Why does death choose to engage life in our present world, why not five hundred years ago? Minor script changes could have addressed these issues. The initial meeting between Susan (Claire Forlani) and Joe Black seems a little too convenient, but forms the basis for a plot twist that strengthens the overall story.

The acting is excellent. Anthony Hopkins is, as usual, outstanding. I would not have cast Brad Pitt in the role he plays, but he does a good job. Appropriate for this movie, the acting style for both Pitt and Forlani is one wherein they communicate their characters to viewers largely by means of their eyes, which, as taught by ancient philosophers, are the windows of the soul.

For viewers who liked "The Sixth Sense", another serious film with depth of meaning, I recommend "Meet Joe Black" most highly.


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