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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

I'm Back!

Chances Are on IMDb

Plot Overview

overwhelming textgraduatesMay of 1964 portends big changes. While married-one-year Corinne Jeffries (Cybill Shepherd) waits in bed to tell her husband she's expecting, a radio announcer in the back­ground is saying their Virginia Repre­sentative Howard Smith, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, has succumbed to pressure to move the pending civil rights legislation out of committee. He famously appended the phrase “or sex” to the bill giving women equal footing with blacks. Corinne's soon-to-be-born daughter Miranda (Mary Stuart Master­son) will apply her­self in school skipping a grade and go on to graduate second in her law class at Yale then come back to clerk (along with one Negro) for DC Judge Fenwick (Josef Sommer.) Corinne for her part will manage her own exhibit on First Ladies, at the Smithsonian Museum where she's a curator.

at the libraryHer husband Louie (Christopher McDonald) back in the day was a prosecutor whose case against mobster Bonino got trashed when jack­leg judge Fenwick disallowed critical evidence. Then Louie got run over in a stupid accident. In the great beyond, he won't wait to be reincarnated as a high status person but comes back right away as Alex Finch (Robert Downey Jr.) born to a dry cleaner's family in Cleveland. By and by he becomes editor of the Yale news­paper and works in the library to put him­self through college in journalism. There he bumps into Miranda his daughter [!] from an earlier life. He drives down to DC to apply for work at The Washington Post, but he lacks the requisite experience.

loversLouie's best friend back-when Philip Train (Ryan O'Neal) has been pining over Corinne all these years but won't make a move as she has a “hope­less case of attachment” to her dead husband. He has just extricated him­self from his “second mistake.” Then at The Washington Post where he works, he bumps into Alex in the elevator, they easily resume their bygone bon­homie, and he invites him for dinner at his neighbors down the street, the Jeffries. Clue­less Alex a regular guy starts a romance with willing Miranda a modern girl. He's her only boy­friend her mom ever liked. When Alex flashes on being Corinne's husband Louie from his earlier life, he starts acting “weird” from her perspective (“It [gets] a little complicated.”)


tombstonersvpWhen the apostles penned the New Testament, God's people were transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New, and there was some question whether the levirate marriage would carry over. Under it if a woman's husband being an eldest son died and they were child­less, she had been obligated to marry his younger brother to continue the former's line. We can get a feel for the situation here where Louie's best friend was Philip who became his best man at his wedding then god­father to his yet unborn daughter Miranda and confidante to Corinne all these years taking the place of deceased Louie in every­thing but sex. Well, why not get married then? The apostle Paul, though, grants a widow unbridled liberty to marry any eligible gent that will take her, (1Cor. 7:39) “if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

happy hugCorinne's other potential suitor is Alex a reincarnation of Louie. Corinne professes: “My psychiatrist says I suffer from the halo effect, the tendency of widows to idealize their dead husbands.” That sets a rather high bar for any future husband, Louie having been “a pretty great guy, hand­some and witty, a man of high ideals, all these things.” But Alex, of course, is all those things having been Louie, only now he's in a younger body. She tells her shrink, “I don't know if it's just his body I'm attracted to or his soul. Or if it's just me.” That halo effect means that any suitor a widow seriously considers is likely to exceed that high bar and sweep her off her feet. That's why the apostle cautions the widow to marry “only in the Lord,” that is not to be dislodged from her Christian walk.

Paul's final advice is, (1Cor. 7:40) “But she is happier if she so abide, after my judg­ment.” She might be happier to remain single. This was actually the case with the true inspiration for this tale. From IMDB Trivia:

The inspiration for the movie came to screenwriters Perry Howze and Randy Howze, who are real-life sisters, from a true story their grand­mother told them about their great-aunt. “Our aunt”, related Perry, “was married to the love of her life, a southern stock broker, for one year. They were a young, beautiful, glamorous couple. After a year of bliss, he died of a brain tumor, and our aunt never recovered. She was that committed and devoted to him.” Randy continued: “We thought, wouldn't it be a joyous thing if her husband came back into her life. We like that notion of life and love not ending with death, just continuing and changing form.”
Thus was born a movie based on their fantasy.

Church serviceWhat are its repercussions to the congregants of the All Saints Church where we saw Louie and Corinne getting wed? A woman (Susan Ruttan) in the occult book­store explains to Alex,

We're all connected. It's all connected under the skin. You never know who's lurking in what body. Your wife could be your grand­mother. You meet some guy who gets on your nerves, probably your mother-in-law. We keep meeting the souls we're attached to. For better or worse, life after life. Some­times I wonder why I worry about past lives at all. I'm having so much trouble with this one. When you remember your past lives, it's like, your emotions get spread like a dangling nerve all over the map. It makes it very hard to live.

Christianity has it that, (Heb. 9:27) “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Paul told the Corinthian church as a body of believers to, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” The plural pronoun ye would like­wise apply to the All Saints Church, to not get them­selves mixed up in pagan practices.

Curiously, part of Paul's rationale is framed in a rhetorical question: for (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” The conflict between a garden variety believer and a non– is demonstrated in this movie when best friends Alex/Louie and Philip come to blows over reincarnation. Alex thinks, “I'm Louie,” and Philip has it that “the last guy to come back, that I know about, was Jesus Christ.” And while Christians can't incorporate paganism into their churches, Paul seems to have no problem with a Christian relating to a pagan individually. In 1st Corinthians Paul tells us (1Cor. 5:9-10) that we may associate with character-flawed nonChristians; that a Christian may maintain a marriage to a nonchristian (1Cor. 7:12-17) so long as the unbeliever is willing; that we can compromise with the heathen in the work­place—Criswell Study Bible preface to First Corinthians: “Some Christians needed to know whether or not they should attend the meetings of their trade guild, meetings held in the idol temples and involving meat offered to the idols (1Cor. 8:1-13)”—as long as we're doing it in faith and not stumbling some­one; that we can compromise in the market­place (1Cor. 10:25-26) and in entertainment (1Cor. 10:27-28) for the same reason, and as long as we don't ask too many questions.

It's plainly spelled out in the sacred dialect of the King James Version (KJV,) which is some­what akin to the York­shire dialect as seen in a certain Peter Robinson novel. In the latter a publican being questioned by a copper replies, “That's what I'm telling thee lad” (46) “and that's all I can tell thee” (48.) Here as in the KJV thee is second person singular used as an object. When he says, “We're not bloody park-keepers, tha knows” (ibid.) and “dost tha want a drink or doesn't tha?” (88,) tha is second person singular used as a subject, as is thou in the KJV. If Paul had wanted to put a restriction on whom an individual may marry, he would have said, “Be thou not unequally yoked,” not “Be ye not uneqaully yoked” using the plural ye applied to the congregation as a group. Our standard English dialect uses you applied to all cases singular and plural obscuring those fine details even more evident in the Greek.

Production Values

” (1989) was directed by Emile Ardolino. Its script was written by sisters Perry and Randy Howze. It stars Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan O'Neal. Downey was a gas. Other good performances were had by Shepherd in wide ranging portrayals of a torn woman and by Mary Stuart Master­son as a feminist under her skin. It had a great cast all round. The angel Sally sported a '60s hair­style. The First Lady mannequins were period.

sunflowersIt was rated PG. Some­one had a penchant for flowers as some appear on almost every set. The music was delightful. Runtime is 1¾ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

It's hardly a blockbuster but could qualify as a must-see. Very entertaining and can appeal to viewers young and old. The comedy is fresh, not reliant on a single repeated gimmick.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Robinson, Peter. Final Account. Copyright © 1995 by Peter Robinson. New York: Berkley, 1995. Print.