Michael [rating: 4 of 4 stars]
directed by Nora Ephron
starring John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Bob Hoskins, Robert Pastorelli, Jean Stapleton, Teri Garr, and Sparky
The official Web site for Michael: www.newline.com
Michael is the kind of movie that Hollywood used to excel at making. It's optimistic. It's fantastic. It's romantic. It's filled with interesting (and crazy) characters and it's a little irreverent to boot. In short, it's the kind of movie that tends to throw audiences and critics for a loop in the '90s: people complain about wanting to see movies like Hollywood used to make, but when one appears, like this one, we find we've become too cynical to accept it. But I love this movie, and I think it's one of the finest American comedies I've seen in the past decade.
John Travolta plays a very down-to-earth angel. He's not the kind of angel who flies around saving people and giving warnings about impending disasters or miracles. He drinks beer. He smokes. And he works a pied piper-like spell on women (a nice little comment on the Travolta image). A letter to a national tabloid brings reporters William Hurt and Robert Pastorelli to Iowa (with Andie MacDowell in tow), searching for the angel. And once they find Michael, they embark on a wondrous road trip to Chicago, with stops along the way, at Michael's request, to see the world's biggest ball of twine and the world's largest non-stick frying pan (not to mention a little dueling with a bull). The movie contains an hilarious scene where this group stops at a road house and Michael soon has all the women in the bar dancing with him, their hands raised to the ceiling in exaltation while they shimmy and shake--and while the boyfriends stew. (It seems Michael enjoys a good bar fight also.)
Michael may be the best and most enduring movie of this Christmas season. Travolta turns in his best post-Pulp Fiction performance. Hurt, Pastorelli, and MacDowell are all excellent and Ephron emerges as one of the finest American directors of comedy. An absolute must see!