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Meet Joe Black

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Meet Joe Black

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Martin Brest
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 180 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Claire Forlani, Jake Weber, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeffrey Tambor

Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

Most meetings last just a couple of seconds. A hello, a handshake, and you have officially met someone. In the case of _Joe_Black_, the meeting is stretched over three hours, and while it is an enjoyable and sometimes touching entertainment, the same effect could have been achieved in half the time.

That's exactly what director Mitchell Leisen did in 1934's 79-minute_Death_Takes_a_Holiday_, upon which Martin Brest's film is based. Despite the presence of the Grim Reaper himself, _Joe_Black_ is a simple and frothy fantasy that does not deserve such an epic length. Death, who has arrived on earth to take an aging business tycoon (Anthony Hopkins) by the name of Bill Parrish (Get it? _Parrish_?) into the great beyond, decides to take a holiday in the land of the living in the body of a recently deceased young man (Brad Pitt). Death gets more than he bargained for when he falls in love with Bill's unhappy youngest daughter Susan (Claire Forlani).

An drab corporate intrigue subplot contributes to the bloated running time, as does the tediously drawn out finale, which strings together a number of potential endings of diminishing effectiveness; had the film ended fifteen minutes earlier, it would have been better for it. Nonetheless, the length does not completely dilute the involving core of the story, whose effectiveness can be credited to the ever-impressive Hopkins and the luminous Forlani, whose heartfelt performance is as stunning as her appearance. Not surprisingly, the weak link in the lead trio of actors is Pitt, whose portrayal of Death comes off as a cleaned-up version of his blank stoner character in _True_Romance_.

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