Always

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Back in the 90s when I first made an effort to explore Steven Spielberg's filmography, I rented Always. My perception at the time was that it was an amalgamation of Top Gun and Ghost. Revisiting it now, nearly 20 years later, I'm left with the same feeling.

The story is predictable and obvious, devoid of any surprises. The cast is solid and they have good chemistry with one another, particularly Richard Dreyfuss and John Goodman, but there really isn't much for them to do with such one-dimensional characters. The aerial footage is impressive...at first. The problem is that even that becomes repetitive. After the first half hour, even those sequences all look the same.

Storywise, the chief problem is that Pete (Dreyfuss) takes his death in such stride that there's no real reason to even sympathize with him as he's compelled to play matchmaker for his ex. That ought to have been a central theme of the film, but instead he just sort of shrugs and accepts that this is his new task. It rings so false for him to laugh his way through so much of the film that the few instances where he winces are devoid of any meaning. He shows more apprehension at losing control of his plane than at watching Dorinda (Holly Hunter) being romanced by Ted (Brad Johnson).

Subplots aren't particularly well developed, either. Al (Goodman) is a fine sidekick while Pete is alive but the rest of the film he seems to service exclusively as the guy yelling at Dorinda to get over her grief in the one troubling scene of the film. He never even apologized or recants berating her, leaving us with the impression he's essentially a cold-hearted jerk who more or less disappears from the film's second half.

Even John Williams's score feels detached and bored. The concert arrangement on The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration is lush and lively, but the actual film score feels like a temp track that was never really replaced.

In short, there's just no reason to connect with, or care about, any of the characters or their situations here. It's a shame, because the premise offers the chance for some genuinely interesting relationship dynamics. Unfortunately, they're squandered in a film that ran away from the humanity of the story.

Always Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#1404/1530)

Always < How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days --> #1404
Always has a decent enough premise but fails to develop it into anything interesting. Conversely, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days makes the most of its contrived, but likable, story.

Always < Sleeping Beauty --> #1404
I've never been a big fan of Sleeping Beauty, but its animation is impressive. That alone is more than I can say for the predictable and uninteresting Always.

Always < Grease --> #1404
How disinterested am I in Always? So disinterested that I'm actually picking Grease here...and I don't care for Grease at all.

Always < Relative Strangers --> #1436
Relative Strangers is a mediocre-to-average movie, but I got a few chuckles out of it. That's more than I can say for the lazy Always.

Always > The Waterboy --> #1436
Always is predictable and fails to offer any surprises or interesting developments, but at least it isn't as tedious as The Waterboy.

Always < Final Destination --> #1460
At least Final Destination did something with its admittedly simple premise. That's more than can be said of the lethargic and cliched Always.

Always < Call Me Claus --> #1472
Two very disappointing movies here, but at least Call Me Claus features some lively Christmas songs by Garth Brooks. Also, Nigel Hawthorne makes a decent Santa Claus.

Always < Kindergarten Cop --> #1478
Kindergarten Cop gave us "It's not a tumah!" That's a greater accomplishment than anything from Always.

Always < Bad Girls from Mars --> #1481
Make no mistake: Bad Girls from Mars isn't "so bad it's good". It's just bad. But at least it isn't as completely forgettable and lazy as Always.

Always > The Farmer's Wife --> #1481
If not for the truly bothersome sexism of The Farmer's Wife, I would pick it here. Always is a complete disappointment, but it wins by default.

Always was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #1481/1530