In one of Crocodile Dundee’s quieter moments, the titular character waxes philosophical in the presence of his newfound love Sue Charlton. He notes, “I read The Bible once. You know, God and Jesus and all them apostles? They were all fishermen, just like me. Yeah, straight to heaven for Mick Dundee. Yep, me and God, we’d be mates.” Mate is Australian for friend or buddy.
That was a touching moment because it shows that Dundee isn’t just a worldly man. He understands there’s more to life than just surviving. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a whole movie built on that one wonderful bit of dialogue?
As it turns out, there is! It’s called Almost an Angel, and it was also written by Paul Hogan, and he stars in it, too. I remember hearing about it as a kid, but I never sat down and watched it until my wife got curious and checked it out from the library a few weeks ago. It turned out to be way better than I could have expected.
I’d like to share what makes it a forgotten film gem in my eyes.
The movie focuses on a career thief named Terry Dean. He’s a genius when it comes to electronics. He’s able to construct remote controls and other equipment to hide his identity from the police as he pulls off heists. But not long after he robs a bank, something remarkable happens. He sees a child run into the path of an oncoming car, and he immediately pushes the child to safety and gets hit by the car in his place.
That act of self-sacrifice is enough to put him in God’s good graces. At least partially. While unconscious, Terry sees a vision of God. Their interaction is priceless because I could see an all-wise God patiently responding to Terry’s excuses and attempts at humor in much the same way as the film depicts. Imagine trying to lie to someone who knows everything. That wouldn’t work out too well for you.
Thankfully, God is generous, and he gives Terry a chance to prove himself. Was his selfless final act a fluke or a hint at his true nature? That’s what he has to figure out through the course of the rest of the film. He has quite a few ups and downs along the way, but he does his best to do good.
Talking to God
I love movies where a bad guy is given a second chance to redeem himself. I also have a soft spot for any movie with a character who talks to God. It started with Fiddler on the Roof. In that movie, Tevye speaks frankly to God, sharing his problems and trying to figure out difficult situations. Terry addresses God in much the same way. He’s still getting used to the idea of being on the Lord’s errand, so he slips up in his language a number of times. But he always apologizes for the blasphemy, and he asks several piercing questions.
It’s wonderful to see Terry change and grow as he learns to put his trust in God. He doesn’t always have the full picture of what he’s supposed to be doing. But he waits for inspiration to strike, and then he doesn’t hesitate to follow wherever it leads. To summarize, an unpretentious movie about serving God? Sign me up for that over whatever hollow reboot Hollywood keeps putting out nowadays.
In Poor Taste?
Stickups aren’t the funniest things to me. I appreciate that we only see Terry rob one establishment, and that’s to feed the poor. He’s trying to follow Jesus’ example of feeding the hungry with a few loaves and fishes. Unfortunately, all he knows is robbery, so he holds up a fish-sandwich restaurant and demands they give him enough orders to feed some local homeless people.
I found that scene in poor taste the first time I watched the movie. But on a second watch, I actually appreciated the cleverness of it. I also liked that it shows that Terry is slowly trying to shed his old ways and divert them into more benevolent purposes. That’s the thing about Almost an Angel. It’s surprisingly witty without looking like it’s trying to be.
Paul Hogan has an interesting type of humor. It’s usually rather understated. When a character delivers a clever line, the movie sometimes doesn’t stop to acknowledge it. Some of the best lines get delivered by a character who is moving away from the camera or otherwise just being nonchalant.
So Many Famous Faces
In addition to the two leads of Crocodile Dundee, Almost an Angel is packed with famous faces in supporting roles.
I recognized David Alan Grier from Jumanji (the Robin Williams one) and In Living Color, which I probably shouldn’t have been watching as a kid (sorry, Mom).
Larry Miller plays a bank employee. He is also the scene-stealing father in 10 Things I Hate About You.
Hal Landon, Jr. is instantly recognizable as Ted’s dad from the Bill and Ted movies.
Elias Koteas is a name I had a harder time pinning down. I recognized him, but I couldn’t recall from where. Then it dawned on me. He’s Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I and III.
Improves on Multiple Viewings
The first time I watched Almost an Angel, I liked it for the most part. But I was confused about where it was going. For most of its runtime, the movie deliberately leaves open the door to the possibility that Terry is just hallucinating. His talk with God could be a dream or a trick of his brain picking up on things around him while he’s in the hospital.
On my second viewing, I appreciated this lack of clarity more. The movie wants the audience to think they know something Terry doesn’t to build a little suspense right up to the climax. I must admit, I didn’t know where the movie was going until the end credits rolled. It was an enjoyable ride with a great payoff. I recommend watching it twice so you can just enjoy what it’s doing after you’re in on the film’s secret.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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If you’d like to support the Deja Reviewer, please consider donating a few dollars to keep this site going strong. I’ll even send you an original joke if you do! Try it, and prepare to enjoy a good chuckle.