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Mr. Destiny
1990 - PG-13 - Mins.
Director: James Orr
Starring: James Belushi, Linda Hamilton, Rene Russo, Jon Lovitz, and Michael Caine
Review by: John Ulmer
   
"Mr. Destiny's" theme is recycled from many films spanning many different years. Its theme ranges from recent spoofs on such plots (see "Scrooged"), to the same, more serious and dramatic notion that worked in "It's a Wonderful Life," and a century earlier in the story of Scrooge as told by Charles Dickens in "A Christmas Carol." "It involves an ungrateful man being taken on a guided tour of his life, and witnessing how his life could have been (or would have been) first-hand.

In most of these types of movies the guardian angel rescues a man from ungratefulness and shows him his life in retrospect, or how it could have been. Should have been. Would have been. In this case we are shown a businessman named Larry (James Belushi). He hates his life. He lives with an unexciting wife (Linda Hamilton) and yearns for a bigger life with bigger meaning. If only he had hit the ball at the state championship in high school years ago. He is convinced his life would have been better. I guess he remembers this seemingly small moment of his life because it made a big impact on his subconscious side, but I doubt a grown man would yearn for one single act from high school. Still, it works in the movie.

Anyway, Larry is driving home from work one night, where he is a penpusher along with Jon Lovitz, when his car breaks down. He wanders into a bar looking for a pay phone, and reluctantly decides to tell the bartender (Michael Caine) about the way his life is turning out. This is where we first see him remembering his childhood baseball strike-out.

The bartender listens and nods, apparently not worrying about any other customers. This is probably due to the fact that the bar, though old and tattered, seems to have never been occupied by any living humans save these two men. In fact, Larry even makes a comment about never seeing the bar before. This is most likely for a certain reason that the audience is expecting before Larry.

So the bartender, who may as well be an angel of God incarnate, just like Clarence, fixes Larry a special drink of his, which ends up putting Larry's life on reverse, showing him what his life would have been like if he had hit the home run all those years before. But Larry has no idea of any change at first, just like Jimmy Stewart didn't realize that Clarence had erased his life until he went into the bar and got kicked out Larry continues to be oblivious to any change until he goes to his home to find the lawn different outside, and a large, wrestler-type man occupying his home.

Larry soon finds out his life would indeed have been very different had he hit the home run. Instead of marrying Linda Hamilton he married Rene Russo and moved into a large mansion with children. He finds out that Jon Lovitz is no longer his friend but an employee of his. And the most surprising fact of all is that with his new life, that Larry has always wanted...he finds himself lusting after his old wife, Linda Hamilton; proof that sometimes money and a great-looking yet shallow wife don't make up everything in a man's life, like an intelligent wife and love and true happiness. Just like "It's a Wonderful Life" showed the audience a man's life is what he makes it, and that every person has an impact on people, "Mr. Destiny" shows us that material wealth is not the same as spiritual wealth, a lesson taught us over and over again, but never quite so fluffy, forgettable and truly sweet as it is shown us in "Mr. Destiny."

"Mr. Destiny" is never exceedingly hilarious, but it is a sweet, good-natured comedy that never takes itself too seriously. The problem with all the "It's a Wonderful Life" retreads out there, like "The Family Man," is that they try to be as influential and memorable as "It's a Wonderful Life" was. But there are only so many times you can single-handedly rip off a famous film, and "Mr. Destiny" knows this, and plays right to the fact. It doesn't try to be anything it isn't; rather, it is something it didn't try to be, and this is obvious to the audience.

 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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