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My Blue Heaven

Posted in Editorials on June 27th, 2012

Nora Ephron has died. She is best known for writing When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. While I love WHMS, My Blue Heaven has always been a favorite of mine.

Steve Martin chews the scenery as Vinny, New York mobster taken to a suburb of San Diego as a part of the Witness Protection Program. Rick Moranis plays Barney, the FBI agent trying to keep him out of trouble, and Joan Cusack is Hannah, the small town District Attorney fed up with Vinny’s criminal mischief.

It’s overly silly at times, with a sanitized and cartoonish view of organized crime, but the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously so that’s okay.

What keeps this movie on my DVD shelf is the character of Hannah Stubbs. She’s a geek, and a socially awkward one at that. Overzealous but vulnerable, it might seem like she falls into the “women are killjoys” trope, but she has reasons for acting the way she does. Hannah doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she gets a in few good jokes and her actions definitely impact the plot. My favorite part of the movie is when a policewoman mentions that Vinny makes the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Hannah bristles that this has never happened to her before. Barney makes his entrance, waves his badge around, and Hannah pauses and touches her neck quizzically before calling him out for stepping on her turf.

Their courtship is sweet, and it’s nice to see a geek girl get the guy. At the end of the film there’s a moment where Barney lies to her, and she believes him. I’ve never been sure what to make of it. She isn’t stupid, but she wants to be rid of Vinny and the problems he’s made for her relationship with Barney. So my interpretation is that this is a conscious choice. She’d rather be happy with her guy than miserable fighting a criminal she’s realized she will never have the resources to catch. And Barney actually took a much bigger risk in lying than Hannah did in choosing to believe him. Hannah has everything to gain, but Barney could have lost his career and his relationship, while she retains plausible deniability.

My Blue Heaven is cheesy as hell, but worth checking out if you haven’t seen before. The characters are fun and will make you smile.

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