Turner Films are on the loose again. John Travolta trudging down the stairs in his boxer shorts and taking a can of beer from the fridge. This is someone's idea of an angel? Or is it only someone's idea of a joke? Rather than reverting to the servile assistance of Edmund Gwenn aboard a ship, the flamboyance of Marius Goring among a bed of roses, the humanity of Spencer Tracy fresh from a fateful plane crash, or the deviousness of Claude Rains peering over a shoulder (an angel of another kind), the producers have decided to go whole hog with pot-belly naturalism and the seductive charisma of fast-footed John. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm as overjoyed as anyone to see the Trav back in the spotlight, but I can't picture this particular vehicle doing much of anything except clip his wings. Joining in the escapade are William Hurt, Andie MacDowell, Robert Pastorelli, and Jean Stapleton (who's lucky enough to die in the first reel). With a cast like this, one could imagine decent, if not spectacular, results. Wrong. Even more surprising is the fact that director and co-writer Nora Ephrom, who has given us such delights as Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, is one of the driving forces behind it.

Michael is a fun-loving angel who has come to earth to help an old lady (Stapleton) with her financial problems. In typical battle fashion, he angelically destroys her bank and saves the day. She writes the newspapers about her guardian angel. Frank Quinlan, a washed-up tabloid journalist (Hurt), smells a story and sets off to check it out, accompanied by fellow reporter Huey Driscoll (Pastorelli), and new associate Dorothy Winters (MacDowell). So, they hop into the car and make their way (just like pioneers) across the plains. Arriving in Iowa they discover that Michael is a real, albeit unorthodox, angel. Having introduced everyone, Pansy Milbank (Stapleton) coughs over her last breakfast and the remaining crew is able to leave the household behind accompanied by their fine-feathered friend.

Quinlan and Dorothy don't get along. Now, Michael may not look a lot like Dolly Levi, but he's got some tricks up his toga. In the meantime, on the road, Michael pursues fun in his own fashion. Among Michael's favorite forms of fun is womanizing. What could we expect? After all, he is well- endowed with a prodigious set of wings? The women seem to find him irresistible. As co-scriptwriter Delia Ephron says, "He turns out to be quite a handful". One of the most enjoyable scenes in the film is a parody of Saturday Night Fever which has the Trav floating the floor and drawing the ladies around, but even this might have been enhanced if somebody had thought of incorporating the choreographic talents of Deney Perrio once again.

During the trip Michael manages to find sufficient time to read a book entitled, appropriately enough, Amazing America which lists various oddities that Michael would like to see. He is, it would appear, fascinated by size. We get to view the world's largest ball of twine and the world's largest non-stick frying pan while watching the world's biggest reel of wasted celluloid.

Nobody seems to question Michael's reappearance in the film after he dies. Or perhaps this is intended to awaken the audience to metaphysical reasoning. Do angels die? If and when they die, do they disappear? Can angels reincarnate and, if so, would the Church of Rome be partial toward the idea? Follow my advice and don't get your feathers in a fluster about it. This film will convince you that Heaven can wait.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett