A Life Less Ordinary is a visually stunning film that includes a perfectly groomed soundtrack evoking the exact emotion expressed in the story. This movie follows two “couples:” O’Reily (Holly Hunter) and Jackson (Delroy Lindo) a pair of angel police officers who have been assigned the task of bringing Robert (Ewan McGregor) and Celine (Cameron Diaz) together. If they do not complete their mission, they will be stuck on earth forever. A scary proposition for anyone, let alone angels.
Robert is a janitor for Celine’s father’s company. After being replaced by a robot, dumped by his girlfriend, and evicted from his home (thanks to angelic intervention), Robert decides to threaten Celine’s father into getting his job back. He ends up kidnapping Celine. Celine and Robert strike up an unlikely friendship with Celine becoming the kidnapping mastermind.
I saw this movie as a teenager and loved it. It opened my eyes to what film could do and how you could weave any kind of story – the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Although, I love this movie and appreicate the story, it is not without it’s problems. The end is pretty much a train wreck.
In Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!, he warns against writing a story containing “double mumbo jumbo.” That means you can’t have two kinds of magic in a movie- aliens and vampires, for example. This movie has angels working as heavenly law enforcers, dream sequences, premonitions, a shot through the chest that does not kill, and a drunken vision that never really explains itself. And don’t get me started on the final converstaion between Celine and Robert; where they break the fourth wall by discussing their feelings and views on love, to the camera, all the while clips from the movie flash behind them. Yikes.
I can’t mention a fault of the film without mentioning a strength. One of the strengths that I have yet to mention is the well developed female characters. The women in this movie are not one dimensional. They are complex. Celine is the archetypal modern woman who has been jaded by her past relationships with men causing her to weild her sexuality as a weapon against them. But she’s more than that. She resents her father for discarding her mother, and secretly abhors the fact that her father compares her to her mother and assumes that she will sink to her “natural level,” never accomplishing anything or make something of herself. Holly Hunter’s character is an angel, and unlike her partner, she was not a human before becoming an angel (Can someone tell me where that crazy idea came from? It’s not in the Bible, so I don’t know how it became associated with Christianity), which makes her curious about the human experience and interested in humanity.
Even though the film ends in a ridiculous way, I still think it is worth watching. The supporting cast is amazing. In his acting career pre-Monk, Tony Shaloub perfectly portrays a down and out bar owner. Stanley Tucci plays Celine’s spurned ex-boyfriend and orthodontist. At the very least, check out the soundtrack.