Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how serious your subject matter is, it’s how you handle your damn movie that makes it or breaks it. Now, I’m not sure if the people behind A Little Bit of Heaven — a tale of a careless young woman’s final days after she’s diagnosed with colon cancer — just didn’t have a clue to begin with, or if they screwed up once they shelled out the money to hire Kate Hudson as their star. Either way, the movie sinks itself before it even sets sail right then and there. But the casting department didn’t stop there, folks: they continued with giving Gael García Bernal the part of a slightly naïve doctor named Julian Goldstein (!) who falls in love with our dismissive heroine.
Sure, the possibility of a doctor falling for a terminal patient is believable. The chemistry between Hudson and Bernal, however, is not. Just as she usually does, Kate plays a strong, fiercely independent woman who needs not a male presence in her life — and who goes through the seven stages of grief surprisingly quickly, embracing the delight that only several montage sequences of shopping and in-general sunny-cheery-happiness can bring. Her completely obnoxious character’s nature isn’t entirely unsurprising, though — not once you meet her eager-to-please mother (Kathy Bates) and her stuffy self-absorbed father (Treat Williams — yes, he’s still alive).
And then there’s Bernal’s performance. Honestly, I can’t even call it that. And I’m going to leave it at that and move on to the other actors in this hackneyed tripe. Lucy Punch turns in one of her least-annoying performances to date as Kate’s best friend, Rosemarie DeWitt is utterly forgettable as another pal, Romany Malco (the other Omar Epps) is the stereotypical gay/black friend, and Steven Weber (remember him?) has a small and unremarkable as Hudson’s boss. The absolute best actor in the movie has to be — hands down — Peter Dinklage, who appears briefly as an escort (and whose scene is shown prominently in the film’s trailer). The unconditional worst performer in the film, without a doubt, is Whoopi Goldberg — who has a few, totally terrible moments as God.
Yes, you read that right.
Now, toss all those ingredients together, add an unbalance script that can’t decide what it’s really going for, and loose direction courtesy The Woodsman director Nicole Kassell, and you have an awkward romantic comedy about dying that is probably best left unseen. Millennium Entertainment brings this dud to disc with a better-than-expected transfer overall and a large collage of interviews with the movie’s cast and crew.