Always: My Least Favorite Steven Spielberg Film

Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss in Always. Courtesy of Universal.

Always departs from the rest of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s filmography in that the film goes for sentimentality more than anything else.

It’s not uncommon for Spielberg to release multiple films in the same year.  The summer saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  While there is some nice action in the aerial scenes in Always, the two films couldn’t be further apart.  Maybe this is why it has taken me until now to watch Always.  I took care of my other blind spots back in 2011 (thank you, Netflix by mail!).

Always is one of the more serious Spielberg films in the 1980s films but among the worst films in his entire filmography.  In terms of the 1980s, it never reaches the level of The Color Purple or the ambitious Empire of the Sun.  The other thing going against the film is that it is–yes–a remake.  Spielberg and remakes aren’t something one necessarily reads together in the same sentence.  But before he signed on to direct the upcoming West Side Story remake, this film was his first major remake.  The film makes a few name changes to characters and moves the setting out of World War II.  I’m sorry but maybe it would have been for the best to just leave A Guy Named Joe behind.

The gist of the film is the same as the 1943 original.  A pilot (Richard Dreyfuss) dies and his spirit mentors a new pilot (Brad Johnson).  In doing so, Pete Sandich (Dreyfuss) watches Ted Baker (Johnson) fall in love with Pete’s former girlfriend, Dorinda Durston (Holly Hunter).  And no, the film is nothing like Ghost, which would be released in theaters about a half year or so later.

The only saving grace of this film–if you want to call it that–is viewers get to see the final performance of Audrey Hepburn.  It’s not a major role by any means but at least Hepburn’s work meant money going to charity.  Sadly, the Oscar-winning actress would die of cancer in 1993.

This is one of those films that takes a lot of effort to not press the eject button on the Blu-ray player.  And yet, this is the film that is sandwiched between Indiana Jones and HookHook may have been bloated in length but the Peter Pan movie is still a fun time.  Always runs just over two hours in length but it may as well be a three-hour film!  This is legitimately the first Steven Spielberg film that I did not like.  It isn’t for the lack of trying.

Despite the pedigree of the film, Always isn’t really a fun time.

DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg
CAST:  Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Brad Johnson, and a special appearance by Audrey Hepburn

Universal opened Always on December 22, 1989. Grade: 2.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.