“Here After” is a a romance premised on the idea that you can’t get into “heaven” without having a “soul mate.”
It is terrible on a lot of levels, a godawful script that was drably-cast and indifferently-directed and passes before the eyes, deathly-dull scene after leaden scene.
Almost everything about it screams “CUT this,” and not with a scalpel either. This two hour indulgent wank needs to be chainsawed. They changed the title from “Faraway Eyes,” but that was no help at all.
Broadway and “SVU” star Andy Karl is Michael, a New Yorker who dies in a car crash after his drunken girlfriend breaks up with him rather than put down the drink and get on a plane to go meet his parents.
This plot-launching moment is drawn out, ad nauseum, in a monologue our hero utters from the gurney as he’s being worked over going into the hospital. Michael relates this long, almost-interesting story from his teens about a redhead and handcuffs. That goes on and on before we realize he’s telling this story to a counselor (Christina Ricci) of some sort. She’s having a hard time getting him “focused” and on topic.
“Can you recall exactly how it was you died?”
She’s in “admissions,” I guess you’d call it. “Heaven” — the director and star (both Jewish) avoid that word — requires that you enter paired-up, with your “soulmate,” and no, don’t ask about “What about if you’re a kid?” or whatever. Michael tries to, and no, the movie makes no sense right from the get-go, so why belabor things?
Michael is given “one last second chance” to wander the Earth — New York — cruise the streets and bars and find “the one.” The whole world is his oyster, but he limits himself to Manhattan. Other souls/ghosts wander there as well. They just don’t want to answer his questions.
“It’s New York. Even when you’re alive, nobody talks to you.”
Michael’s often-drunken approaches to women bring out his “misogyny,” or “woman hating douche” side. The one dead pal (Michael Rispoli) he remembers and consults has a few answers, but no suggestions about sorting out their problem. Angelo’s already given up. At least there’s booze in their shared afterlife.
“This ain’t Hell. But it’s sure doing its best impression.”
Michael and the movie about him fritter away minutes and more minutes, and then he meets somebody (Nora Arnezeder of “The Words”) in a bar. They chat, and however bored their banter might make the viewer, destiny and the screenplay dictate that they “click.”
One problem? She’s not dead.
Writer-director Harry Greenberger did a film called “Staring at the Sun,” which played a few festivals, never got a proper release and isn’t even listed on Rotten Tomatoes. “Here After” should be so lucky.
The most charitable view is that it’s an overreach for something romantic and profound that was a misfire pretty much at conception.
Karl, of Broadway’s “Groundhog Day” adaptation, knows his way around a joke. None scripted here work and he comes off like dead weight trying to make them play. Making his character an actor with dreams of a one-man show just underlines what Karl doesn’t accomplish here — lighting up the screen, or even holding our interest.
Ricci has nothing funny or interesting to play and is absent from much of this interminable, dreamy dramedy. She got off easy.
Arnezeder might be well-cast as a romantic ideal if there was anything to play, and she was better at being more than just a beautiful face. “Honey Bee” is the character’s name, and that’s the most intriguing thing about her.
I don’t know what they were here after but I do know what I was here after. And “Here After” isn’t it.
MPA Rating: unrated, lots of alcohol consumption, profanity
Cast: Andy Karl, Christina Ricci, Nora Arnezeder and Michael Rispoli.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Harry Greenberger. A Vertical release.