Reviewed by: Debbie James
“Always” is a remake of the 1943 fantasy, “A Guy Named Joe”, a drama about fire-fighting pilots and the dangers involved in putting out forest fires. Even though the story is predictable at times, this movie contains many enjoyable elements: romance, drama, comedy, suspense, action, and music. The basic storyline is that of love, friendship, and risking one’s life to save a friend; all noble elements. There is noticable chemistry among the actors and the relationships portrayed are believable. There are also some excellent cinematic sequences by Spielberg. Unfortunately, there is a New Age theme which this story is built upon.
Pete (Richard Dreyfuss) and Al (John Goodman) are bush pilots who are also good friends. Dorinda (Holly Hunter) is the woman Pete is in love with and is also a good friend of Al's. After Pete has a close call while attempting to put out a forest fire, Dorinda tells him the next day she can’t take the pressure anymore and asks him to take a new job offer teaching pilots how to fight forest fires. They exhibit a healthy, loving relationship where he listens to her concerns, and then explains how he feels. He eventually agrees to take the new job.
Up to this point there has been some foreshadowing that Pete’s “number” is going to be up soon. As in true Hollywood fashion, he then gets a call that the forest fire is getting out of control again and he is needed to help, even though it is his day off. Of course, he decides to go and help. This time though, it is Al who has the close call and Pete ends up giving his own life to save Al.
This is where the New Age theme enters the picture. Pete meets an angel, Hap (Audrey Hepburn), who tells him he has died and that he has a mission now to help/inspire someone else like himself. There is no mention of God, just that Pete is “good” and they only send the good ones back on these missions. He is warned that anything he does to benefit himself will be a waste of “spirit.”
Pete’s mission, as it turns out, is to help/inspire another pilot, Ted (Brad Johnson), who, after seeing Pete in action before he died, now aspires to fight forest fires. Pete is to communicate the inspiration through a person’s own thoughts. At first, he is a bit mischievous, playing practical jokes on his friends, but eventually begins to take his “mission” seriously. To complicate matters though, Ted just happens to be attracted to Dorinda, which causes Pete great anguish.
Other material which may be objectionable includes: one scene of implied fornication between Dorinda and Pete, although there is no sex or nudity shown, just kissing. There is about a dozen instances of the Lord’s name used improperly, mostly “God” and “Gosh.” There are two uses of “G.D.” as well as about a dozen other common swear words and instances of crude language being used (no “F-word,” but one character gives another “the finger”). There are also a few brief scenes of social drinking (no drunkenness) and cigar smoking.
If the New Age theme and bad language makes you uncomfortable, you will probably want to avoid this movie. If you decide to see this movie, you will be pleased to know that the comedic elements are not dirty, and the relationships are healthy, showing a biblical theme of caring about others more than yourself.
Year of Release—1989