In MR. DESTINY, James Belushi plays Larry Burrows, an average hard-working guy who is not very happy with his life. He has an unsatisfying office job with Liberty, a company that manufactures sporting goods. There he is surrounded by bosses with nicknames like "Cement Head" and by sexy
female coworkers for whom he lusts. Larry is married to Ellen (Linda Hamilton of TV's "Beauty and the Beast"), a beautiful woman who doesn't seem to have time for him in between her overtime hours at Liberty (where she works on the assembly line) and her union meetings. His best friend, a goof
named Clip (Jon Lovitz), likes to play practical jokes on Larry and kiss him on the head. Rounding out Larry's life are a family dog with a weak bladder, a mound of mud that his lazy contractor calls a driveway, and a car that consistantly breaks down. Worst of all, everyone, including Ellen,
seems to have forgotten Larry's 35th birthday (everyone except Clip, who gifts his pal with some fake vomit). All of this bad luck, according to Larry, can be traced to the worst day of his life--his fifteenth birthday, when in the bottom of the ninth with two out and a man on, he struck out to
blow his high school's chance of winning the state baseball championship. If he had hit that last pitch, his life would be different now; Larry is sure of it. After being fired for uncovering a scandal that his boss wants hushed up, Larry goes to a bar for a drink. There he meets a mysterious
bartender (Michael Caine), who listens as Larry laments his sorry state, then makes the put-upon patron a magical drink. When Larry downs this concoction and walks out of the bar, he steps into MR. DESTINY's version of "The Twilight Zone." It seems that history has been altered, that Larry didn't
strike out during his infamous turn at bat; in fact, he hit the game-winning home run, and that golden moment changed the course of his life. Now the town hero, Larry is about to discover what it's like to live like a king.
For starters, Larry is married to his boss's gorgeous daughter Cindy Jo (Rene Russo), and lives with her and their two children in a mansion. Naturally, he has loads of money. He also has several fancy cars, a mistress (Courteney Cox), the biggest office at Liberty, and power beyond his wildest
imaginings. But he doesn't have Ellen, who is married to someone else. Moreover, judging by the general dislike most people seem to have for Larry, success has made him a heartless jerk. For a while he lives out this new life as best he can (with periodic help from the bartender, Mr. Destiny), but
soon his longing for Ellen and for friendship forces him to alter his life in ways that Mr. Destiny has warned him against. Set up by his jealous coworkers (lead by Hart Bochner, in a wonderfully wicked performance), Larry is caught with Ellen (in effect cheating on his wife with his wife).
Eventually, he is even wanted for murder. A fugitive, he is pursued by the police into a dead end, and when he asks for help from Mr. Destiny, Larry finds himself back in the bar, safe and sound. After thanking Mr. Destiny for helping him realize that his life isn't so bad after all, Larry goes to
a high-powered Liberty board meeting to expose his boss's hidden scandal. He then returns home to discover that dozens of his friends have thrown him a surprise birthday party. They haven't forgotten his birthday after all. What's more, Larry is rehired by Liberty and given a high-paying job.
MR. DESTINY obviously owes a great deal to Frank Capra's twinkling fantasy classic IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, from which it borrows the bare bones of its plot. But times have changed, and, judging by this Disney release, so have values. While IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE emphasizes the importance of family,
MR. DESTINY emphasizes the importance of money and sex. Even though Larry realizes that his "real" life is more fulfilling than his "new and improved" one, he still ends up with a high-paying job and a Mercedes. In IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, James Stewart's George Bailey desperately needs the gifts of
money that come his way in the film's final scene, but Larry Burrows doesn't need a Mercedes; it's just cool for him to have one. It would appear that in the age of psuedo-fairy-tales like PRETTY WOMAN (also a Disney release), happy endings are not really happy unless the protagonist receives some
kind of monetary reward (as if filmmakers are saying to their characters and to the audience, "You've learned your lesson, now you can keep all of the neat stuff!").
Essentially the story of a man who takes a vacation from his responsibilities by going to a bar and reveling in his secret fantasies, MR. DESTINY also perversely caters to the fantasies of male viewers. Larry drives fancy cars, is waited on by servants, and sleeps with a woman that he has lusted
after for years. When he returns to his marriage, not only are all of his problems solved, but he receives a nice fat reward. Although this hardly qualifies as a morally uplifting message, the film tries to pass itself off as an innocent fantasy. In reality, MR. DESTINY is little more than a
role-reversed version of PRETTY WOMAN, although it does not begin to rival that film's reprehensible treatment of women and absurd glorification of consumerism.
MR. DESTINY also fails as whimsical fantasy; director Orr handles the supernatural elements in such a flat-footed manner that he never evokes the necessary magical atmosphere, and though Caine tries desperately to be charming and fairylike, he is no Henry Travers (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE's
unforgettable angel, Clarence). In fact, most of the time Caine simply looks distracted. The rest of the supporting cast either embarrass themselves (Lovitz and Cox) or look as if they wish they were somewhere else (Hamilton and Bochner).
When all is said and done, MR. DESTINY remains watchable and at times even becomes entertaining only because of Belushi's presence. Just as he did with the tepid TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS (yet another Disney release with a consumerist bent), Belushi redeems almost every scene he's in with his
supremely winning charm. His performance here establishes him as one of the most likable comedic actors of his generation (he has also proved himself a terrific dramatic actor in THE PRINCIPAL; SALVADOR; and Andrei Konchalovsky's HOMER & EDDIE), and perhaps he will begin to get some of the Cary
Grant-like roles that always seem to go Tom Hanks' way.
MR. DESTINY is by no means a good movie, but James Belushi is unquestionably a good actor, and his portrayal of Larry Burrows almost makes the film worth watching. (Profanity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: In MR. DESTINY, James Belushi plays Larry Burrows, an average hard-working guy who is not very happy with his life. He has an unsatisfying office job with Liberty, a company that manufactures sporting goods. There he is surrounded by bosses with nicknames… (more)