Meet Joe Black
Directed by Martin Brest
Written by Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade, Bo Goldman (and based on like 4 other things).
Starring Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani, Anthony Hopkins.
181 minutes, Universal Pictures, 1998.
Meet Joe Black runs a reasonably innovative box-office game-plan. It’s a sappy romance, veiled in a macabre tale about Death (the Grim Reaper type), who falls in love with a rich man’s daughter after somehow switching into the body of a young hunk he’s supposed to nab for expiration. It’s very much like Freaky Friday or the Prince and the Pauper, but with a boatload of romantic lies thrown in to balance out what would otherwise be hilarious hi-jinks (so it’s kind of like Titanic I guess?).
In this long-ass story, Death can only be shown the beauty that life has to offer via a rich man’s assets: his wealth, property, power and voluptuous daughter. I must say, these morsels do present quite a convincing case; life is certainly hard to relinquish when all you have (been given) are riches, fine delicassies and sexual prowess. For hot rich babes (or Brad Pitt), dying or getting old will probably suck.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us sipping on the cold gruel of an average existence, something about this song and dance has a fishy aftertaste. Perhaps life’s deepest beauty actually IS found in exotic parties and a businessman’s fortune — I don’t have a clue. But I do have to ask: what mountain of human suffering must be traversed in order to enjoy such a thing at the expense of others? And given the unbelievable, innumerable tiers of hardcore brutal suffering available out there in the cosmic garden, what are the odds that your ticket in the human lottery will yield such a lucky fortune?
I’ll answer for you: not bloody likely. But I do like that here they’re selling the rich-kid-wildcard draw to Death as just your average, run-of-the-mill Human Experience 101. Life is a party, bro! Quite being so negative and join the orgy! I guess what’s really going on here is some cosmic scam artist is tricking Death into taking human form — and thus the same stupid samsaric trap as the rest of us. Pretty deep stuff actually.