A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
I don't have the exact figures on this, but I'll bet there's not a star in Hollywood who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to play an angel in a movie. What other kind of character (they secretly think) could more completely reflect their true hidden qualities? So popular are angels in Hollywood that just this season, John Travolta, Denzel Washington and Dolly Parton have played them in new movies.
Travolta's angel is the scruffiest. He needs a shave, smokes a lot, eats his breakfast cereal using the backhanded steam-shovel spoon grip and lives in the office of the Milk Bottle Motel, somewhere in rural Iowa. He is discovered there, in “Michael,” by three sensation-mongering reporters from a Chicago-based supermarket scandal sheet, after they get a postcard from the sweet little old lady (Jean Stapleton) who owns the motel.
Is he an angel? Vartan Malt (Bob Hoskins), the editor of the National Mirror, doesn't much care, as long as he has wings and will pose with Sparky, the little dog that is the paper's beloved mascot. (Sparky has already posed with President Clinton, Santa Claus and, very recently, Elvis.) Sparky's master, much less popular with the paper than the dog, is Huey Driscoll (Robert Pastorelli), a disgraced former reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who was fired for socking the managing editor. (One of the screenplay writers is Jim Quinlan, formerly of the Chicago Sun-Times, so perhaps a little displacement is going on here.) Huey's investigative partner is Frank Quinlan (William Hurt), a laid-back type who realizes the only way to survive a job like his is with perpetual bemusement.
As Huey and Frank are preparing to leave for Iowa, they're saddled with a newcomer: Dorothy Winters (Andie MacDowell), thrice-divorced “angel expert,” whom the editor assigns to join the reporting team. All of this is curiously muted; one expects the editor of a trash tabloid to not only be apoplectic (as Hoskins usually is), but also sleazy and corrupt. Not a chance. I actually had the impression that this editor and his staff more or less believed the stories they published, in a way, sort of.