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The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Television movie directed by Lloyd Kramer

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The Visual Albom

  • Mar 21, 2005
  • by
"..each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one." These words are uttered by Ellen Burstyn at the end of this Hallmark movie version of that persistent little best seller by Mitch Albom THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. And that about sums up the content of this simplistic story of how all of us are connected, that each of our lives is significant even if not apparent while being lived.

Mitch Albom serves a purpose as a writer. He produces small short stories as books that are quick reads, have a dollop of 'feel good' philosophy, and provides an entry to folks who may not ordinarily read books as part of their pastimes. And there is considerable merit to that. From the legions who have read his 'Tuesdays with Morrie' and 'Five People You Meet in Heaven' it is fairly obvious that there is a public out there who is hungry for some homespun faith: the atmosphere around the globe is threatening enough to our psyches that we do need some spiritual nurturing. And if Albom provides that, I think that is a step in the right direction.

Great writing here? No. The screenplay is by Albom and as worked by director Lloyd Kramer we are given almost two and a half hours of this story that doesn't take that long to read in book form. But in many ways this drawn out presentation helps make a better story rather than the quick preach of the book. Eddie (John Voight + Callahan Brebner + Steven Grayhm) is a maintenance man for a seaside boardwalk Ruby's Pier where he has spent his entire life (with the exception of a tour of duty in the battlefields of WW II) feeling like he is trapped into a thankless life, filled with mistakes and regrets. His sole concern is for the safety of the rides in the amusement park: the story begins with his death due to a faulty ride in which he attempts to intervene at the 13th hour to save a young girl's life.

Being dead, he enters 'heaven' which just happens to be a cleaned up Ruby's Pier. He meets five folk who each teach him lessons about his life - lessons that are accompanied by flashbacks to significant moments, events, and memories. These five people are enacted by Jeff Daniels, Michael Imperioli, Ellen Burstyn, Dagmara Dominczyk and Nicaela & Shelbie Weigel and it is through their graces that Albom's secrets are transmitted to Eddie.

Not a complex plot, not a complex movie, but one done with enough color and skill to warrant its Hallmark seal of approval. And that is really OK. Just don't expect depth. Grady Harp, March 05

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More The Five People You Meet in He... reviews
review by . July 09, 2009
Eddie (Jon Voight) is an old man who has spent his whole life doing maintenance at the Ruby Pier amusement park. Today, one of the rides malfunctions and threatens a child's life. As he rushes to save her, he is whisked to Heaven where he meets five people from his past - people he loved and hated, and even one he didn't know at all.       I expected this movie to be sappy and maudlin and in a way it was, but it was so well done I was quite moved by it. Eddie's trip to Heaven …
review by . October 15, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: acting, scenery, lighting techniques, story     Cons: sound quality     The Bottom Line:   "All the way to heaven is heaven  Caught between the spirit and the dust  All the way to heaven is heaven  Deep inside of us"  ~Melissa Etheridge           This was an interesting interpretation of how one views their self worth while they travel through life. It …
review by . January 21, 2006
It isn't often that the movie version of a good book is as good as the book itself, but this is one time it actually happened. I thought the book was profound on a level that Tuesdays with Morrie never reached. Jon Voigt is a superb actor, and he is outstanding in 5 People. The rest of the cast is excellent as well. While some people may regard the "message" as trite or schlocky, this powerful dramatization of the fact that our lives are all interlocked is something we need to be reminded of often.  It …
review by . June 13, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
"This is a story of a man named Eddie who was shown the secret of heaven: that each life affects the other, and the other affects the next. The world is full of stories, but the stories are all one." - The Five People You Meet In Heaven DVD    A critical, abusive, alcoholic father. The nightmares--and a physical wound--courtesy of war. Infertility. A beloved wife struck down with a neurological disease. Evaporating dreams of being an engineer, replaced with a life-long job as …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


Based on the bestseller by Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie),The Five People You Meet in Heaventakes up whereIt’s A Wonderful Lifeleft off. In the Capra classic, George Bailey gets a vision of life without him. In this Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Eddie (Jon Voight), an amusement park maintenance man and war veteran, ends up in Heaven after an accident takes his life. There he meets five people from his past: the Blue Man (Jeff Richards), the Captain (Michael Imperioli), Marguerite (Dagmara Dominczyk), Ruby (Ellen Burstyn), and Tala (Nicaela and Shelbie Weigel). Each shows him how he impacted their life or they his--and not always for the better. (In these flashbacks, Callahan Brebner and Steven Grayhm play the young Eddie.) The point may seem simplistic--everyone is connected--butThe Five People You Meet in Heavenfinds a unique and engaging way to make it.--Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Director: Lloyd Kramer
Release Date: 2004
Screen Writer: Mitch Albom
DVD Release Date: February 8, 2005
Runtime: 133 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate
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"The Visual Albom"
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