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A romantic adventure about a legendary pilot's passion for dare-devil firefighting and his girl.... (Full plot summary below)

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A romantic adventure about a legendary pilot's passion for dare-devil firefighting and his girl.

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Movie Reviews

Boston Globe - 9/10 by Jay Carr Always is a relatively small scale, engagingly casual, somewhat silly, but always entertaining fantasy.
Portland Oregonian - 6/10 by Ted Mahar This is Spielberg's weakest film since "1941."
Tampa Bay Times - 4/10 by Hal Lipper Gentle and moving as it means to be, Always is overloaded. There is barely a scene here that wouldn't have worked better with less fanfare.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) - 4/10 by Jay Scott Always is an unfulfilled promise, a plummeting dove.
User Review - 6/10 by Spangle Probably Spielberg's most sickly sentimental and manipulative film, Always is still oddly charming due to Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter. A touching romantic comedy drama about a man who is an aerial firefighter who dies and comes back to make amends and inspire a new guy to fight fires and, incidentally, date the man's past girlfriend, Always is a charmer and a compelling look at death. While definitely sentimental and the most quintessential display of it in a Spielberg film, the film finds great tension when in the air and great charm while on the ground. That said, it is quite predictable and clearly manipulative, even if it is a compelling look at death. Dying and being tasked with inspiring Ted Baker (Brad Johnson) to become an aerial firefighter, Pete (Richard Dreyfuss) is not ready to go. Even when Hap (Audrey Hepburn), the woman who cuts his hair and tells him he is dead (yes, really), tells him he must go back and say goodbye, he is hesitant. He is not ready to give up his life with Dorinda (Holly Hunter). It may be time to go, but he wants to keep Dorinda as his own and not share her with Ted, who is quickly moving in on Pete's territory. Able to speak and direct people to do something, nobody can see Pete and write it off as a voice in their head or their own mind telling them to do something. Thus, he goes undetected by everybody but Hap. Eventually, he learns he must say goodbye to let Dorinda move on from his death and not want her own demise as a result. The only way she will be happy and live the rest of her life with Ted is if Pete says goodbye. Tearjerking and melodramatic, the film's portrayal of death - though odd - is well done and well thought out for the most part and the film is quite effective at moving the audience with this portrayal. It is a film that would likely be of great comfort to somebody who just lost a loved one for its portrayal of the need to say goodbye. Yet, the best sequences have to be in the air. High flying daredevils, these aerial firefighters are insane people. Al (John Goodman), Pete, Dorinda, and Ted, are all shown flying and they all risk their lives in the process. These scenes are excellently staged and captured by Spielberg with each sequence being filled with tension and capture the fear and adrenaline of situation to perfection. Compared to the situation on the ground, the situation in the air is incredibly reminiscent to Top Gun and captures that same free flying spirit. On the ground, it is far more solemn than Top Gun, but in the air, the two are very similar in how they capitalize on the natural tension of flying and fighting fire with fire. That said, Always is hardly memorable. While playing with similar emotions as many other Spielberg films - tension and tears - it just lacks the gravitas to make it all come together. It may be Spielberg at the helm, but even his lesser films feel more like Spielberg than just in the themes. This one could have been done by anybody and feels like a director-for-hire film. While he gets great performances out of Dreyfuss and Hunter, this is absolutely Spielberg on autopilot and just doing a film to get the studio behind him, even though they clearly are and should be behind him for the future. Thus, I have no idea why he would make it. Mind you, it is hardly an awful film, but it just not particularly special or memorable. It comes, it entertains, and then it goes without even waving or having the courtesy to say goodbye. It just ends and you find yourself sitting and looking at the screen and saying, "Well, that was pleasant." Five minutes later, you sit down to write a review about on Letterboxd and think, "Boy that John Goodman was funny. Good acting. But what happened again exactly?" While not complicated, it is not a film that will stick in your mind and that is its biggest fault and usually something Spielberg brings to the table. Tame, tolerable, and largely quite enjoyable, Always has some good fantasy elements, solid tension, and a nice romance, but Audrey Hepburn deserved a better film for her final role.
User Review - 4/10 by askewglasses In short this is probably one of the worst of Spielberg's films. It's not necessarily bad but its very boring. It does have some very good parts though, such as when the planes are flying or when Dorinda (Holly Hunter), Pete's love, dances with the ghost of Pete unknowingly. But as a whole it drags and doesn't hold up to his other works.

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