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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Heaven Help Us
Directed by Michael Dinner
Warner Home Video 02/85 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R

In Heaven Help Us, the time is 1965. The boys at St. Basil's, a Catholic parochial school in Brooklyn, live in a repressive environment where sex is only spoken of in hellfire sermons and where the student body's most distinctive individuals are brutalized by Brother Constance (Jay Patterson), a bully in the name of God.

No wonder they resort to pranks, such as beheading the statue of the school's patron saint or sneaking off from a parade in which the Pope appears, choosing instead to see the charismatic Elvis in a movie. The troublemakers at St. Basil's are Michael (Andrew McCarthy), a newcomer to the school whose grandmother is determined to have him become a priest; Caesar (Malcolm Danare), a chubby intellectual who believes he was "conceived to go to Harvard"; and Rooney (Kevin Dillon), a foul-mouthed rebel who is creative only in affairs outside the classroom.

Michael Dinner, in his debut as a feature director, has chosen a lively cast of young actors for this ragtag comedy, Michael's romantic interlude with Danni (Mary Stuart Masterson), the lonely girl who runs the candy store across the street from St. Basil's is interrupted when she is taken away to an orphanage after her melancholic father is institutionalized. Despite the film's heavy-handed indictment of the parochial school system, Heaven Help Us is a partly funny and occasionally touching coming-of-age film.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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