A dispirited man unhappy with life longs for a better existence. One night, he meets a magical bartender who gives him the opportunity to live the life he has always wanted.
Nearly twenty years old, this movie has often been overlooked by many as a great but, in this reviewers position, Mr Destiny is just as good as any contemporary or past classic.
Larry Burrows (Belushi) is whose story we follow, but not initially as an adult. As a teenager, he was the one responsible for missing the winning hit in a little league match. Poor kid. By losing the match, this situation made a huge impact on the youngsterís life, even for his future career. Now merely a lowly junior executive, only two things get him through the day. One being his wise-cracking best friend Clip (Jon Lovitz) who has been his ever-faithful buddy since kindergarten. His work life is both boring and dull, and his only other respite from this boredom is making quirky, flirtatious smiles with his bossís wife, Cindy Jo (Rene Russo).
But life isnít all that bad for Larry. Despite his squalid, unfinished home he is greeted every day by his loving wife Ellen (Hamilton) and their beloved dog Sammie who, despite his weak bladder, is loved no matter what. Ellen is the epitome of the loving wife who would lie down her very life for him. But, no, Larry is still not happy.
One night, after driving home, his car breaks down. Spotting an open bar, he goes into to make a call. There, he meets bartender Mike (Caine), a happy-go-lucky individual who even I wouldnít mind sharing a story or too with over a beer. Much to his horror, Mike remembers Larry from the miss he made in the baseball match all those years ago. If only he had made that winning hit, mentions Larry, my life would have been much different.
Larry finishes his drink and walks outside. Whereís my car, he thinks. Just my luck. Onwards home he goes on foot, but when arriving Larry discovers someone else lives there. No Ellen. No Sammie. No mysterious puddle in the corner. Somethingís not quite right here. Wondering what the hell is going on, he finds Mike outside in a cab. Informed he does not live there, Larry asks where he does live. Moments later, he arrives outside a mansion that Queen Elizabeth might reside at the weekend. The door opens, and there stands Cindy Jo and two young children. Upon discovering that she and Larry are married, as well as the children being their own, Larry believes he has hit the jackpot. To add even further gold medals to this Olympic event of a situation, it turns out he is the CEO of the company he was once a lowly executive at and is higher up on the career ladder than his previous, yuppie boss Niles. What more could a guy ask for? This new life he has been offered seems too good be true. But there are drawbacks. There always are, arenít there?
Upon arriving on his first day in a flashy sports car, the negatives of his new life begin to dawn on Larry. His trusty friend Clip is a shadow of the figure he knew just the day before and is the butt of jokes rather than the teller of. Even Ellen, his wife of old, has turned from lover to enemy. She is the leader of the workers union, and horns have certainly clashed between them in the past. It seems as though the Larry everyone knows of in this alternative world is an egotistical, cruel boss who cares only for money. And to add insult to injury, the Larry that once lived this life had strayed from the home fire and embarked on an affair with the factory floozy.
Larry soon learns that the life he dreamt of all these past years is not what it all cracks up to be. Now, Larry decides he wants things how they used to be. Surely that would be impossible?
Barely shown on television here in Great Britain, Mr Destiny is one of those movies which should have been critically recognised upon its release. Its narrative does seem to copy Itís a Wonderful Life, with the protagonist being shown what life would have been like if things were different, but here it is different than the James Stewart version. Mr Destiny deals more with money than Itís a Wonderful Life. After all, this movie was released barely three years after Wall Street, and in a time when yuppies ruled London. To Larry, wealth is important to him. He aspires in a way to be a yuppie. In the real world, Larry lives in a normal, suburban home. The mansion; yeah thatís what I want. But in this world that Mike has offered, what good is it without your loved ones? Sure, money and power is great but happiness is something that cannot be bought. The yuppie lifestyle looks great on paper but when it comes down to it he prefers a more humble existence.
Belushi is supported well by some fine actors. Linda Hamilton, in her in-between roles as Sarah Connor, demonstrates how versatile an actress she is. Whether it is playing the homely, doting wife or the tough individual who doesnít take any guff from anyone Hamilton really does shine. Lovitz, too, demonstrates his acting ability. Like Hamilton, he plays opposite characters; funnyman in the first half and nervous office-geek in the second. Like Robin Williams in his more recent roles, Lovitz shines in this jeckle-and-hyde performance. An early appearance by Courtney Cox, long before her days as Monica Geller, shines too as Larryís angry lover. As with a number of films Belushi has starred in (K-9 immediately springs to mind) his films often act as merely a vehicle for him. But in Mr Destiny, he goes that step further. As expected, Michael Caine eclipses Belushi but due to his greater on-screen presence it seems Belushi does better his British counterpart. Whatever the critics say about Mr Destiny, this is one movie that must be checked out. As with Itís a Wonderful Life, it is a film that makes you realise that no matter how bad your situation is in life there are always more pros than cons. A highly recommended movie suitable for all the family, although younger children may find some scenes distressing.