Customer Reviews: Heaven Help Us [VHS]
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on March 6, 2000
"Heaven Help Us" is a story of growing up Catholic in the Brooklyn of the mid-60's. A story of friendship and first love.
Andrew McCarthy plays Michael Dunn, a sensitive teenager, who along with his sister, has to come to live with grandparents in Brooklyn after the deaths of their parents. There he attends an all-boys Catholic high school, St. Basil's. Being the new kid, he has a tough time adjusting; but eventually befriends an outcast intellectual, Caesar; a not too bright, troublemaker, Rooney; and Rooney's not too bright toadies, Williams and Corbet. Dunn also strikes up a relationship with Danni, a girl who works at the local soda shop. This causes friction with his school because the shop is supposed to be off-limits for St. Basil students, and with his family who want him to become a priest. In spite of those barriers, a very sweet romance blossoms between Dunn and Danni.
"Heaven Help Us" contains alot of laughs, mainly from Kevin Dillon's rather obtuse character, Rooney. It boasts a great soundtrack of mid-60's motown tunes. There is also a definite "Celtic" taste to this movie. The surnames of the characters are mostly Irish: Dunn, Rooney, Corbet; as are the actors who play those roles: McCarthy, Dillon, and Dempsey. Occasionally, the soundtrack breaks into tradional Celtic music with bodhrans and uillean pipes which further emphasizes the film's Irish-American focus; even though the word "Irish" is never mentioned.
Overall, one of the most overlooked teen films of the 80's. A fun, sweet, little movie.
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on July 5, 2002
One day I was flipping the channels and turned to Comedy Central...They were showing Heaven Help Us and I'm glad I kept on watching it. I went to catholic school from 2nd grade on through high school and yes, I attended an all boys school (Loyola High School of Los Angeles).
Heaven Help Us reminded me of the crazy things that go on in a school where you don't have to worry about embarrasing yourself in front of girls. We were kind of in our own world. I remember the all girls school just a couple of blocks away, as in the movie. When the priest came over to the five characters in the assembly, I was reminded of when a priest did the same thing to some of us during a high school mass.
This is a coming of age story and I haven't found a person who has hated the movie. It's too bad that it's not as acclaimed as it should be. It should be considered an American Classic. To me it is. The scene where the student is snatched away from mass for using his own clicker to make the student body sit and stand is 100% classic!
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on June 18, 2002
I have yet to meet a Catholic school alum who did not like "Heaven Help Us." It will appeal to all generations of former Catholic school students due to its mix of sentiment, humor, nostalgia, and stereotypes. If you're a Catholic school grad you're going to like this one even if you, like myself, went to a school in which lay people made up the majority of the faculty and corporal punishment was a myth from the distant past of your parents' schooldays.
"Heaven Help Us" is a comedy about teenage boys trying to survive their days at a Brooklyn all boys Catholic high school in the mid-1960s. It's a rather episodic film dealing with how school, home, girls, and the Church effect the lives of these teenagers. Set in the pre-Vatican II days of the Church, the movie shows the influence that institution then had on the everyday lives of its followers.
"Heaven Help Us" is a comedy, but it also has several serious and very sentimental moments, which are quite well done. However, those serious scenes may be the reason why this film bombed at the box office. If I remember correctly this movie was mistakenly advertised as a sort of "Porky's Goes to Catholic School." Thus, people, who went to see it thinking it was a raunchy, teen, sex comedy, came away disappointed because it's not a sex comedy! There is a nice romance, an on-going joke about one character being unable to "master his domain," and another character is stopped in his advances towards his drunk girlfriend in a very gross way, but no real sex. However, people, who may have been interested in seeing a comedic, coming of age story (which is what "Heaven Help Us" really is), did not see it either due to its poorly thought out ad campaign.
This movie is occassionally shown on television, but it's usually hacked to pieces because of some of its language. Kevin Dillon's moronic character has a penchent for using a homosexual slur against everyone and everything, which is a realistic thing for a teenage boy to do, but not allowed in our PC world today so his lines are always edited. That's a shame because those are among the funniest lines in the movie.
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on August 18, 2004
This is one of the funniest coming of age movies out there. It seems like there are many forgotten comedies of the 80's that haven't caught the attention of mainstream America and the studio heads. This movie along with "Going Berserk" starring John Candy are two of the funniest movies of the 80's and neither are available on DVD.
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on April 11, 2006
This movie has a lot going for it in storyline, credibility and performances and it feels very atmospheric of '60s NY...where it's funny, it's very funny and it's also bittersweet...what I find most memorable is the small scenes and minor characters (like Dunne's little sister pretending she's dead or Rooney's coaching the other boys at confession)...The classroom scenes are terrific, if a little too brutal and the ending is a bit too over the top (plus it's marred by a tacked-on voiceover from, of all people, Rooney) but this movie is saved by it's writing, direction and Wallace Shawn's brilliant little warning speech before the big dance (...a BEAST lives within you!)...a lot of nice touches make this a keeper.
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on May 25, 2002
A friend and I went to see the awful film ... and what a loser that was. But it happened to be part of a double-feature. We had never even heard of the second movie, but we decided to stay and see it, hoping to salvage a wasted afternoon. Well, it was salvaged, because that great film was HEAVEN HELP US. I was amazed then, and I'm amazed now, that HEAVEN HELP US was given so little attention, and was given such an anemic release. What was the studio thinking? I'm glad I happened upon it, because both my friend and I thought it was great. The performances, the script, and a justifiably cynical view of religion make this worthy of viewing.
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on October 25, 2012
Acting is superb in this especially from Andrew McCarthy. Just like the movie, he is overlooked and underrated. I agree with the other reviewer, why was Dempsey listed as the main character and not McCarthy when he only had such a minor supporting actor with maybe 2-3 lines??? This movie had everything you expect from a movie...great acting, great lines, story, chemistry between characters, etc. Wish we could find this quality in the movies today.
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on July 3, 2000
I went to a Catholic high school for 4 years and nearly fell off my seat laughing the first time watching this. The characters are very accurate and the brothers who run the school are well-cast. This is not a "chick-flick", so don't let the "chick-flick" sounding name turn you away from this nostalgic, comic gem.
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on June 4, 2005
This is not a review. It is, of course, a request. Please release this one on DVD. I remember seeing this one countless times on cable while growing up. Anyone who has gone through catholic education (at any level of training or era) can appreciate all the nuances on this one. This movie is fantastic!
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on January 23, 2014
I recently discovered this movie when we had a weekend of free HBO. I fell in love with how they captured the feel of the early 60s. It brought back so many memories. It was fun to see so many stars when they were young and before they were stars. I guess every show has to have a villein and the main teacher is in the school is one that you really love to hate since so much hate comes from him. Its hard to imagine having a teacher like that in school although I had some that were close back in the 60s. I love this movie.
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