Teen movies from the ‘80s are September’s theme for Genre Grandeur! Since I knew some of the other participants would talk about more well-known movies from this particular selection, I decided to choose a film that doesn’t always get included in the conversation. On the website, Ranker, there was a list focusing on the greatest teen movies of the ‘80s. A film called Date with an Angel was placed on that list. I have not seen or heard of this title prior to this year. Based on its synopsis, Date with an Angel, shares a similar premise with the film, Splash. While I haven’t seen the 1984 movie in many years, I do remember enjoying it. Because of this, I believed there was a chance I might like Date with an Angel!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: While I don’t watch soap operas, I am aware its actors and actresses are required to give a consistent performance in every episode. I was told Michael E. Knight starred on All My Children as Tad Martin. From what I could tell from his performance in Date with an Angel, his soap opera experiences seemed to have paid off! Michael’s portrayal of Jim felt genuine, as the different expressions he showcases appear believable! This is especially the case anytime Jim interacts with the Angel. When he first encounters her after his bachelor party, the shock and awe of the situation can be seen on his face. Very little dialogue is needed to express the feelings in a moment like that one. Speaking of little dialogue, the Angel herself barely has any lines in this movie. Portrayed by Emmanuelle Béart, she was able to use the lack of dialogue to her advantage by relying on facial expressions and body language. In a scene where Jim is determining if the Angel’s wing is healed, she winces and hides her face from him. The consistency of the performance is also what worked in Emmanuelle’s favor. Another actress that did a good job with the acting material she was given was Phoebe Cates! What I liked about her performance was how emotional it was. As the movie progresses, Phoebe’s character, Patty, transforms from a beloved socialite to a woman who let jealousy get the best of her. Similar to Michael and Emmanuelle, Phoebe effectively incorporated facial expressions into her portrayal.
The music: I was really impressed by the soundtrack found in Date with an Angel! One of the best uses of music in this film takes place in a scene where the Angel and Jim find a treehouse in the middle of the forest. When this happens, the song, ‘The Finer Things’ by Steve Winwood, plays in the background, emphasizing how the simpler things in life are, sometimes, the best. There were times when music highlighted the tone of a particular scene. Anytime Jim is with his friends, rock tunes are heard. Meanwhile, piano/music-box music softly plays in the scenes featuring Jim and the Angel. This musical collection definitely added enjoyment to the movie’s audio!
The use of light and fog: Anytime the Angel appears in Date with an Angel, she is highlighted through the use of light and fog. A great example is when the Angel first lands in Jim’s pool. The lights from the pool are the primary source of light in this scene. Fog wraps around the pool area, creating a mysterious oasis with its presence. These creative techniques emphasized how magical and otherworldly the Angel was. In the scenes where the Angel and Jim are in the forest, fog could be seen in the background. Because of its inclusion, it made this location feel secluded, almost like it was Heaven on earth.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The Angel is not her own character: In Splash, having a mermaid engage with the human world was a phenomenon. However, Madison was not defined by her mermaid roots. Not only was this character given a name (Madison, in this case), but she was also given her own dialogue. This allowed Madison to play a significant contribution to Splash’s plot. The Angel in Date with an Angel was presented more as a phenomenon than a character. As I mentioned before, the Angel wasn’t given a lot of dialogue. She also didn’t receive a name, being simply referred to as “Angel”. The other characters viewed her as a rarity instead of another individual who happened to appear human. Seeing the Angel not be her own character was disappointing.
Jim’s insignificant composing dreams: Date with an Angel’s synopsis on IMDB reveals that Jim is “an aspiring composer”. Because this particular occupation is not often found in contemporary stories on film, I was curious to see how this would factor into the overall plot. While this detail was brought up on a few occasions, it never served an important part of the story. Music was not used to resolve any conflicts or make any personal discoveries. In retrospect, Jim could have held almost any occupation and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
The cosmetics campaign subplot: One of the subplots in Date with an Angel revolves around Patty’s father trying to salvage a cosmetics advertising campaign. He ultimately decides on finding the Angel so she can be the new face of the campaign. The subplot itself supplies an interesting concept to the overall story. But shortly after this subplot is introduced, it’s quickly dropped from the movie. I found this to be a shame because it could have provided commentary to the plot. One example is how natural beauty is more timeless than the power of any piece of make-up.
My overall impression:
Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. This is a message Date with an Angel needed to hear. While its inevitable for stories to be repeated over time, this movie felt like an imitation of Splash. As I said in the introduction, I haven’t seen Splash in many years. Therefore, I can’t say if it is a better movie than Date with an Angel. What I can say is this imitation didn’t really allow Date with an Angel to be its own movie with its own identity. Looking back on this film, I’m having difficulty understanding why Ranker would put it on their list of ‘80s teen films. I will admit there are elements in the story that would likely be found in an ‘80s teen movie. A group of goofy, scheming friends and a hilarious misunderstanding are two examples. However, Date with an Angel is not an ‘80s teen film by definition, especially since the characters are adults. Maybe this specific premise, where a human crosses paths with an angel, would have worked better in an ‘80s teen movie. If that were the case, it might have had a better chance of being its own story.
Overall score: 6.4 out of 10
Have you seen any teen movies from the ‘80s? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Here is the link to the Ranker list I mentioned in this review (Date with an Angel is listed at number 107): https://www.ranker.com/list/best-80s-teen-movies/ranker-film