The best movies are the ones that challenge the viewer. Instead of spelling out the director’s philosophy, these films pose questions to their audience. Bold questions with no easy answers, so that the viewer is forced to actively consider the issues it presents, which eventually leads to a more fulfilling cinematic experience.
Hi Honey, I’m Dead is not one of these movies- believe me, no one’s going to mistake it for Sunset Boulevard or anything- though it does present a number of questions that deserve answers in my book. Questions like “Why would anyone ever want to watch this?” Or “Could the people who made this movie possibly be punished enough?” Or “If you died, and the first angel you saw was Paul Rodriguez, would Hell really seem so bad?”
Most things, as it turns out, don’t seem so bad compared to this preachy nonsense, directed by Alan Myerson, of “Police Academy 5” non-fame. Our hero is Brad Stadler (Kevin Conroy), a suave, up-and-coming property developer, and wrecking other people’s lives makes him feel like a man! He stiffs homeless guys, cheats on his wife (Catherine Hicks) and treats everybody else like dirt. God (God) finds this irritating, and so when Brad is off inspecting a new building site, he gets squashed.
This happens about five minutes or so into the movie, and to me, this would be the perfect place to end. As if we could be so lucky. No, Brad is sent up to eternity, where he is met by the angel Ralph. Serious Bible students know that it is Ralph, not St. Peter, who meets us at the pearly gates; the powers that be only say it’s Peter because it makes the religious jokes sound a little better. Actually, Ralph (Paul Rodriguez) is Brad’s guardian angel, and to make up for the fact that he was off taking a whizz while Brad was out setting world records in Commandment-breaking, Ralph sends Brad back to Earth as a total loser to try again. Said loser is the very forgettable Arnold Pischkin (Curtis Armstrong), who takes a job as the Stadler’s new housekeeper in sort of a Mrs. Doubtfire-ish plot twist.
I’d like to point out here that according to this movie, God has no problem with killing off a perfectly nice poor person so that a rich one can have a second chance to lead a good life. Excuse me? Did I miss the week in Sunday School where they explain God’s theories on class dynamics? Does this mean that generic evil tycoon #890 will someday get flattened by a giant version of his company’s logo, only to return in the body of one of the poor folks whom he bankrupted and laid off, only to have to clean the bugs out of his own pool as his wife’s new janitor? (Don’t cross your fingers just yet- with my luck, I’d be the poor guy he replaces.)
The flip side of this world view, of course, is that poor people can do any old rotten thing they want, since their souls are only around to keep bodies warm until rich people need them. But we’re getting sidetracked.
Arnold/Brad impresses Carol Stadler and son Josh with his cheerful attitude and ability to put the clean socks at least in the right house, if not the right room or even drawer. Carol, who doesn’t appear to have a personality of her own, does have a little crush on Arnold, despite his receding hairline and general plumpness. But, you see, Arnold/Brad hasn’t truly been humbled yet. He’s just pretending to be nice, but he’s actually biding his time until he can return to power, which happens in less than a couple of commercial breaks. Yes, not only does God give rich folks all the breaks, he created a world where Fortune 500 business leaders take stock tips from guys who clean gutters for a living. Right. And you thought Shatner’s movies made no sense!
If you haven’t already figured out that Arnold/Brad is going to realize he’s falling back into his bad habits, change his ways for real and reunite with Carol, you’re an idiot. But after all this banal gobbledygook there’s something even worse: a sanctimonious epilogue from Ralph the angel, about how what happened to Brad could happen to us, so we should remember what’s important and try not to be so gleefully evil all the time. This is irritating in that I don’t want or need tips on morality from any cast member of D.C. Cab, but more importantly, I can’t figure out what Paul Rodriguez is warning us about here. I mean, everything turned out fine for these people!
Made-for-TV movies aren’t usually meant to inspire, or entertain, or even amuse. They’re usually just made to kill time, or at the very least, not offend anybody. While it does kill time (almost nothing happens in the movie, and I can’t remember even a single memorable line), Hi Honey I’m Dead certainly does offend anybody with more than eight brain cells. It’s not worth watching even as a B-movie. Our recommendation is to avoid this movie, as well as any angels who ask if they can borrow your body for a while.