Review: Cancer comedy ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’ a lot of hokum

To the cancer comedy subgenre we can add a new category: the colonoscopy rom-com, not likely to metastasize beyond “A Little Bit of Heaven.” What Gael García Bernal, Kathy Bates, Treat Williams and Peter Dinklage saw in the material, one can only guess. But for leading lady Kate Hudson, the ill-conceived, blandly executed production is the latest in a long line of disappointing career choices, leaving fans of her eye-opening turn in “Almost Famous” still waiting for another role to showcase her range.

She’s clearly trying in “Heaven.” Hudson plays Marley, a hot-shot young ad agency executive who learns she has terminal “ass cancer,” as she insists on calling it. She’s just that kind of gal: bawdy, unsentimental and intent on avoiding emotional commitment. Gren Wells’ screenplay throws around a few ideas about female independence and sexuality, but finally it’s as shallow as it is mawkish.

The inevitable lesson in love arrives courtesy of an earnest doctor (García Bernal, looking like he’s having his own commitment problems). Marley might be dying, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have fun, as a montage or two proclaim. There are also predictable matters to work out with the good doctor, Marley’s friends (Rosemarie DeWitt, Lucy Punch, Romany Malco), her understandably anxious mother (Bates) and too-busy-with-his-career cliché of a father (Williams).

The movie perks up during Dinklage’s scene as an escort, and screeches to a painful halt for a few conversations with God, who’s played by a cloud-roosting Whoopi Goldberg. In a sophomore letdown from “The Woodsman,” director Nicole Kassell gives the film no energy or rhythm, while the script pushes all the pre-set buttons.

— Sheri Linden


“A Little Bit of Heaven.” MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content, including crude references, and language. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. At AMC Loews Broadway 4, Santa Monica.