After dying before his time, an aspiring comic gets a second shot at life…by being reincarnated as a wealthy but un-likeable businessman.
Release Year: 2001
Rating: 5.1/10 (11,532 voted)
Critic's Score: 32/100
Stars: Chris Rock, Regina King, Chazz Palminteri
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…
Writers: Elaine May, Warren Beatty
Charles Wellington, III
A story of premature reincarnation.
Release Date: 16 February 2001
Filming Locations: New York City, New York, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $20,027,309
(18 February 2001)
(3 June 2001)
Did You Know?
Many of the comedy routines used in the movie were on Chris Rock's "Bigger and Blacker" album.
During Wellington's speech to the board members, the glasses of the board member directly to his right jump back and forth between his hands and the table depending on the camera angle.
You know, the first kiss is always in the middle of a sentence. It's always like, "Tomorrow I'm going to the zoo to see the monkeys and…"
Or it could be like…"Did you hear about that new war in Russia? I heard…"
So I can call you, right? I mean, just to talk.
Chris Rock stars in this remake of Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait (itself a
remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan), a comedy about a man who
dies before his time, before he can realize his dreams, and his adventures
in his new (albeit temporary) body. In the Beatty version, the protagonist
was a backup quarterback for the then-Los Angeles Rams. In Rock's hipper
version, our lead character is a struggling young – and decidedly
– standup comedian.
It's very funny to see the razor-sharp Rock playing a bad comedian. It's
kind of like seeing Tom Hanks play a bad actor. Lance Barton's dream is to
play the legendary Apollo Theater on a non-amateur night. But every time he
tries out his material, he's booed off the stage lustily – so much so that
his nickname becomes "Booie." His jokes are lame, his delivery painful. In
short, Lance is everything that the real Chris Rock isn't.
Lance is also a bike messenger, and he's riding the streets on his way to
try out even more material when BAM! He's hit by a truck. Ok, so maybe he
was taken from his body a tenth of a second early by a slightly incompetent
angel (Eugene Levy), but hey, he was going to get hit anyway. No dice, it
appears Lance isn't due in Heaven until 2044. So what to do? Mr. King (Chazz
Palminteri), the "manager" of Heaven, reluctantly agrees to find a new body
for the not-quite-dead Mr. Barton. Trouble is, the body they find is of a
greedy, old white man. Turns out this fella (a Mr. Wellington) owns all
kinds of things – he's the 15th richest man in the country! What luck! You
can imagine how Lance will turn things around.
But of course, while in the body of the affluent Mr. Wellington, Lance falls
for a gorgeous hospital worker (Regina King). We males know how tough it is
to find a female given our own body, but try winning one over while you're
an dumpy, old white guy! And it's even worse when she's not impressed by
This is Rock's first shot at a lead role, and in my opinion he performs
admirably. There's still a lot of the standup comedian in him – and, of
course, if he ever wants to get diverse roles, he might have to stop
incorporating standup routines into the script – but this isn't really a
thing. Rock's personality – his drive, his delivery, his demeanor, and his
passion – are what fuel this film. He's clearly having a lot of fun in the
role, and he seems bent on making sure you have fun watching