'Mr. Destiny' has no wonderful life of its own

"Mr. Destiny" is little more than a redo of Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life." If you want to see the story done the right way, see the Capra version. If you want a pale imitation, try this one.

The new film does have James Belushi. That's more than a small plus, but the material is so wan, so predictable, there is little the star can do with it.


Belushi plays Larry Burrows, a 35-year-old businessman who regrets the day he missed that pitch and lost the high school championship. He is certain that if he had not struck out, his life would have been vastly different.

It would, says Mike, a stranger Burrows meets in a bar. Mike (Michael Caine), of course, is no ordinary bar man. He's an angel and would almost have to be. There is no one else in this bar.


Mike allows Larry to see what his life might have been had he won that game. For one thing, he would have married the boss' daughter and would be living in a mansion. He would also have a collection of foreign cars.

In an instant or so, Burrows is living the fantasy life and liking it, but something seems to be missing. It's the girl he left behind in his other life. He and she meet in Larry's fantasy life, and though she is married, he comes on to her. "We were married in another life," he tells her.

All this business is a little forced, and there are some opening scenes that are meant to be funny and are not. There are also some situations that try the patience, but we do have Belushi, and he goes through the film doing all his lines as though they were the best.

Most are not. They're not the worst, and the film isn't really bad. It's just that it should be better than it is. It has every reason to be.

Caine, always willing to do a supporting role (which is why the man has lasted so long) makes an agreeable angel, but Henry Travers (the angel in "It's a Wonderful Life") he is not. Linda Hamilton is the wife Burrows leaves behind when he visits the world he might have had. Jon Lovitz is Burrows' life-long friend, treated as an inferior in the the world Burrows might have had, and Hart Bochner, Rene Russo, Douglas Seale and Courteney Cox appear in smaller roles.

James Orr, who did the script for "Three Men and a Baby," directed and co-authored the script with Jim Cruickshank.

"Mr. Destiny" is playing at local theaters. It is not destined to please all.

"Mr. Destiny"


* A maturing businessman wonders what life would have been like if he had not struck out in that all-important high school championship game.

CAST: James Belushi, Linda Hamilton, Michael Caine, Jon Lovitz, Hart Bochner, Rene Russo, Douglas Seale, Courteney Cox


RATING: PG-13 (language)

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes.