Meet Joe Black

Meet Joe Black seemed almost fated to fail when it was released in 1998, but this romantic fantasy--a remake of 1934's Death Takes a Holiday--deserves a chance at life after box-office death. Although many moviegoers were turned off by director Martin Brest's overindulgent three-hour running time, those who gear into its deliberate pace will find that Meet Joe Black offers ample reward for your attention. Brad Pitt plays Death with a capital D, enjoying some time on Earth by inhabiting the body of a young man who'd been killed in a shockingly sudden pedestrian-auto impact. Before long, Death has ingratiated himself with a wealthy industrialist (Anthony Hopkins) and pursues romance with the man's beautiful daughter (newcomer Claire Forlani), whom he'd briefly encountered while still an earthbound human. Under the assumed identity of "Joe Black," he samples all the pleasures that corporeal life has to offer--power, romance, sex, and such enticing pleasures as peanut butter by the spoonful. But Death has a job to do, and Meet Joe Black addresses the heart-wrenching dilemma that arises when either father or daughter (the plot keeps us guessing) must confront his or her inevitable demise. The film takes its own sweet time to establish this emotional crisis and the love that binds Hopkins's semidysfunctional family so closely together. But if you've stuck with the story this far, you may find yourself surprisingly affected. And if Meet Joe Black has really won you over, you'll more than appreciate the care and affection that gives the film a depth and richness that so many critics chose to ignore. --Jeff Shannon

Director(s): Martin Brest
Production: Universal Pictures
  3 wins & 6 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.2
Metacritic:
43
Rotten Tomatoes:
50%
PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Year:
1998
180
9,843 Views

William Parrish:
Hello? Is anyone here? [Louder] I said is anyone here?

Death:
[Bill's voice] Quiet down

William Parrish:
Where are you?

Death:
I'm here

William Parrish:
What is this a joke, right? Some kind of elaborate practical joke? Heh, at my fortieth reunion we delivered a casket to the class presidents hotel room and uh--

Death:
Quiet

William Parrish:
[Backing out of library]

Death:
Where are you going, Bill?

William Parrish:
I uh...

Death:
The great Bill Parrish at a loss of words? The man from whose lips fall "rapture" and "passion" and "obsession"? All those admonitions about being "deliriously happy, that there is no sense in living your life without" all the sparks and energy you give off, the rosy advice you dispense in round pear shaped tones.

William Parrish:
What the hell is this? [Creaking, a shape appears in faded window] Who are you?

Death:
Just think of millenniums, multiplied by eons, compounded by time without end. I've been around that long. But it's only recently your affairs here have piqued my interest. Call it boredom. The natural curiosity of me, the most lasting and significant element in existence has come to see you.

William Parrish:
About what?

Death:
I want to have a look around before I take you.

William Parrish:
Take me where?

Death:
It requires competence wisdom and experience, all those things they say about you in testimonials. And you’re the one.

William Parrish:
The one to do what?

Death:
Show me around, be my guide. And in return you get...

William Parrish:
I get what?

Death:
Time. Minutes, days, weeks, let's not get encumbered by detail, what matters is that I stay interested. [Pause] Yes...

William Parrish:
'Yes' what?

Death:
'Yes' is the answer to your question.

William Parrish:
What question?

Death:
Oh Bill, come on. The question. The question you've been asking yourself with increased regularity, at odd moments, panting through the extra game of handball, when you ran for the plane in Delhi, when you sat up in bed last night and hit the floor in the office this morning. The question that is in the back of your throat, choking the blood to your brain, ringing in your ears over and over as you put it to yourself.

William Parrish:
'The question'...

Death:
Yes Bill. The question. [Moves from behind the glass into shadowy area] The question.

William Parrish:
...'Am I going to die?'

Joe Black:
[Steps out of the shadows, appearing as Joe Black for the first time] Yes.

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