Theme Song: “Heaven” by Bryan Adams.
Yes this song is still pretty good. Something I did not know about this song was that he wrote it while on tour with Journey after he was inspired by their masterpiece, “Faithfully.”
Interesting Dated References: Implying that a guy who owns and operates “a few video shacks” is doing great, has a future, and is a viable relationship candidate for a young woman; Women having “ladies nights” that involve more than being resentful, complaining about their spouses, and checking their phones every two minutes.
Best Line: “Where do you get off fucking my wife?” — said by man to guy who has recently completed the act of fucking his wife.
Social Context: This movie is on some other level. It’s like the most depressing movie about marriage you’ve ever seen, but somehow masquerading as a super, 80s-cheesy, male stripper movie. The levels of sadness and defeat displayed in the primary marriage are so matter-of-fact the filmmakers must have had to water down the story with lots of undulating male buttocks. I’m so perplexed by this movie that I can’t even tell who their target audience is. Perhaps the target was couples in struggling marriages who also enjoyed seeing male buttocks in various choreographed dance routines?
Summary: The movie begins with Whitney, (Robert Logan) the scientist who is working his lonely third shift job at Cape Canaveral. On his way out, he chats with the security guard about a sexy young girl on the television.
Then the sweet sounds of Bryan Adams “Heaven” start up. I forgot how good this song is. You may not remember how good it is because you are insecure with being a person and can’t fully embrace a good song that expresses true emotion. You should revisit it, and you should be more embracing of your softer side and stop listening to modern music.
Whitney leaves work on his recumbent bicycle and rides all around the grounds of Kennedy Space Center. There are some interesting shots of buildings around Cape Canaveral, so if you’re into the space program, this film may be for you.
Isn’t implying a white, middle-aged scientist would ride a recumbent bicycle to work an example of outright racist stereotyping? Or is it a universal truth? This opening is masterfully shot. Big panning shots of the grounds, swooping crane shots of Whitney on said bike, Bryan Adams, it’s downright majestic.
When Whitney rolls up at home in lovely Titusville, his wife is preparing to leave for her teaching job. He tries to coax her to stay home so they can make passionate coitus, but she rebuffs his advances.
In the next scene we meet Rick, our good-looking young protagonist played by Christopher Atkins of Blue Lagoon fame. He lives in a trailer park and has just completed conducting coitus on a neighbor girl. For whatever reason, his friend Slick (female) is waiting to pick him up for school in her brand-new bitching Corvette.
Between her brand new Corvette, her giant glasses, and her fucking awesome outfit it’s like someone took everything that was sexy about the 80s and put it into one scene. She even has the T-top going on.
This, however, is everything that was not sexy about the 80s (or nowadays for that matter). Anyone who tries to convince you that the school-marm-nerd-look is sexy is mentally ill. Meet Faye, the schoolteacher who is also Whitney the scientist’s wife. Faye is played by Leslie Ann Warren, who is hamming up the schoolmarm thing to an annoying level.
She teaches a bunch of old-looking community college students, including virile Rick, who she is obviously sexually intimidated by. So intimidated in fact, she decides to fail Rick because he makes a joke out of his final speech.
We should hang out some time and wear our matching Disneyworld shirts even if one of us isn’t Deney Terrio. So after failing Rick, Faye goes to visit her sister in nearby Orlando. The sister (played by Deborah Rush, previously seen in Split Image) and her drunk-ass friend are taking dance lessons from Deney Terrio (who also did the choreography for this movie). After that they coax Faye to go with them to Ladies Night.
I’m not sure what Ladies Night entails, but the sign clearly states, “7pm for ladies only, men in at 10pm.” So does that mean it’s chicks getting wasted for 3 hours straight and then a cavalcade of horny, cologned men trample through the door and try to date rape them? That doesn’t seem to make sense.
Faye drops the school marm thing pretty well, even though her dress has shoulder scrotums.
So once inside the “Ladies Night” it becomes apparent that from 7-10 there’s a full-on male nude erotic dancing revue. Of note, the lady sitting second on the right is taking photos of the strippers and is totally not getting her ass kicked and/or thrown the fuck out of the club.
Then things turn into some type of futuristic dance video when our main act comes on stage. As luck would have it, the main act is “Ricky The Rocket,” who is in fact Rick (Atkins) from the classroom.
Faye is immediately embarrassed, but Ricky undulates his way over to her and waves his clothed penis all in her face. Then they kiss as 500 women scream and cackle and ovulate.
This whole time there’s an annoying emcee screaming innuendoes into a microphone about how powerful and large Ricky’s rocket is. At one point he says if you ride Ricky’s rocket it will be a bumpy ride, which really only serves to make it seem like Ricky has genital warts. Eventually Faye gets jealous when she sees Ricky kiss many other women.
Meanwhile, back in Titusville, Whitney gets fired and returns home to his drab kitchen because he refused to work on a rocket for the Department of Defense. You see, he’s not as willing as his wife to ride the bumpy rocket. In order to help console himself, he stares at his wedding picture. There’s an attempt here to bring more emotional depth to the story, but the pacing and the over-the-fucking-top-eroticism of the strip club sequence disturbs any flow the movie has.
The next day, Whitney, Faye, and her sister attend the Community College Art Show. If you’ve never been to an art show at your local community college, I would encourage you to go. It’s possibly the most depressing and delusional place in the world. Students too afraid to go to real art school stand around and talk about how they’re on their way to some kind of career in the art world. Teachers who have failed in art world stand around and try to convince people they were once famous and fool others into buying their artwork. Then a bunch of English teachers come in and buy the art so they can feel like they are enlightened. And that’s not even covering all the old stoners and depressed women in the pottery department.
While at the art show, Rick confronts Faye about their encounter at the Ladies Night. He tells her all about his traveling stripper job and how he has been having sex dreams about her and she should let him retake his final exam. Faye acts all stuffy, but can’t stop Rick from meeting Whitney and her sister. Whitney seems a little suspicious of the handsome young man and keeps giving him sideway glances.
Later that week, Whitney acts all distant during breakfast in their depressing brown kitchen. Super bleak! Faye tells him to cheer up and start his own business, but he gets all crabby and tells her to go visit her sister.
So once again Faye gets lured to another goddamn Ladies Night under false pretenses and there’s another giant erotic dancing montage. Once again, note the woman on the right taking pictures. She’s so close there’s no way that photo is going to be in focus.
In the middle of this, we switch over to Whitney cleaning his gun. The character development on Whitney is really awkward. It seems like an afterthought. To make matters worse, everything starts to get really convoluted. Faye’s sister is sick and has to go back to wherever the fuck she’s from (Chicago). Before she leaves, she gives Faye a speech about her unhappy marriage. Meanwhile, Whitney sees some old flame and goes to her house where they reminisce about NASA. The conversation turns to romance, but it appears Whitney doesn’t cross any lines, although it’s a little ambiguous.
The next day he goes for an interview at a video game manufacturer, then does some target practice. This whole time (approximately 1 day), Faye has been staying in her sister’s hotel room since it was already paid for. In the morning, she sees Rick and they decide to have vaginal sex.
If I were a female teacher at a community college, I would find this scene very erotic. Continuing the convolution, Faye’s sister calls, looking for Faye. This sets Whitney off, and he decides to go to the hotel and see what’s going on. Meanwhile, Faye tells Ricky to watch her room because she’s heading out and will be back later. When she returns, she finds Ricky going downtown on Slick in the shower. Isn’t this all a giant mess? Whitney calls from the lobby, Faye keeps crying, Ricky sneaks out of the room, etc.
Whitney stands in front of this awesome wallpaper, waiting for Rick to get off of the elevator. Then he apprehends him at gunpoint, says, “I want to see you dance,” takes him to a small boat, makes him undress, and finally leaves him standing naked in a sinking boat, saying, “I’m just pissed off, I’m not crazy.”
After that, Whitney returns home and is sitting there drinking Wild Turkey as Faye arrives. She grabs a coffee mug and pours herself some, then starts to explain herself, but Whitney stops her. He starts in on some weird existential talk about how he’s glad she’s home, and they begin to chit-chat and laugh. In the end: forgiveness and compromise.
Then Bryan Adams. Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on with this movie? The whole storyline with Whitney should have been the main arc. It’s a depressing, bleak, tale about the cost of being an aging man in a failing relationship. He’s losing his job and his wife is having an affair with a younger man. All the necessary elements are there, but instead, this storyline is pushed to the margins in favor of more screen time for Atkins and other male buttocks. The solid marriage/infidelity-driven story was pushed back in favor of something that would appeal more to young ladies, resulting in a diminished dramatic effort.
A Night In Heaven actually has a pretty nice pedigree. It was written by Joan Tewkesbury of Nashville fame, and it was directed by John Avildsen (Rocky, Karate Kid). Perhaps the film studio had their hands in the pot a little too much. This was the first movie Avildsen had done since he helmed the clusterfuck Neighbors, so perhaps he wasn’t allowed the control he would have liked. Regardless, I think enough bleakness remains to make this worth checking out.
Poster and Box Art: Because A Night In Heaven was improperly marketed to a younger audience, the poster capitalizes on some type of Saturday Night Fever/Flashdance hybrid thing. Certainly it’s a great illustration, but if you look at this poster and consider when it came out, you’re bound to think this is some type of dance competition movie.
Availability: A bunch of assholes want $50+ for DVDs of this movie. Stick to eBay and find a used VHS.