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Michael Review

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Two tabloid reporters checking out a report of the Archangel Michael living with an old woman find that it's true. But that's not the only surprise.

★★★★★

This is a peculiarity from the Group Hug school of moviemaking that takes a one-joke premise and does very little with it. And while the movie's success can be largely attributed to the presence of star attraction John Travolta (whose middle-aged coolness took something of a hammering in the barely adequate Phenomenon) Michael provides him with yet another role which gives him little opportunity to use his considerable talents to best effect.

The story kicks off in Chicago, where tabloid hack Frank Quinlan (Hurt) is contacted by a small-town crinkly claiming to have an angel known as Michael (Travolta), lodging in her Iowa motel.

Teaming up with new employee Dorothy Winters (MacDowell) and requisite portly sidekick Huey (Robert Pastorelli), the trio heads out to the backwater town to validate the story. And (would you believe it?) it's true, only Michael, despite the presence of some fine-feathered plumage clinging to his back, turns out to be a chain-smoking, crotch-scratching slob with the table manners of a primate. Only pausing briefly to contemplate the possibility that he might just be a con-artist, the action turns road movie as Michael is persuaded to return to the big city and prove to the paper's still sceptical editor (a rather peculiar turn from Bob Hoskms) that he really does exist.

Michael's actual purpose on earth can be deduced by even the lamest of brains, and his capacity for miracles seems strangely limited, restricted only to pulling women and the odd display of strength (a punch-up in a diner, an irrelevant, inexplicable face-off with a bull). When he is finally called upon to perform a spot of resurrection, the consequences prove disastrous.

Sadly, this is reflective of the film as a whole, the cast does its best, but the material provided is sub-standard fodder: the script is clichéd and uninspired, the tone veering uneasily between unamusing comedy and over-sincere drama, all theological issues are weakly circumvented and the characters hardly relate to each other, let alone to any of their onscreen activities.

When the film's highlight turns out to be a career-best performance from an energetic canine called Sparky, you know you're in trouble.

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