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Michael

Michael title card

Year - 1996
Studio - New Line Cinema
Stars - John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Bob Hoskins, Robert Pastorelli, Jean Stapleton, Terri Garr, Wallace Langham
Director - Nora Ephron
Writing Credits - Nora Ephron, Della Ephron, Peter Dexter, Jim Quinlan(screenplay), Peter Dexter, Jim Quinlan (story)
Music - Randy Newman

Synopsis

Frank Quinlan (William Hurt) and Huey Driscoll (Robert Pastorelli) are reporters for a Chicago based tabloid magazine that features sensationalistic stories. They haven't produced any noteworthy stories lately, but their managing editor, Vartan Malt (Bob Hoskins) keeps them on because of his sentimental attachment to Huey's little dog, Sparky, the paper's beloved mascot, despite the fact that Sparky seems to hate him.

When Frank receives a letter from an Iowa woman, Pansy Milbank (Jean Stapleton), claiming that an angel is staying at her motel, he convinces Vartan to send them to investigate. Vartan agrees, but only on the condition that, if the story proves to be false, he will fire them but keep Sparky. He sends, with them, a new reporter on the staff, Dorothy Winters (Andie MacDowell), who he says is an "expert on angels."

They travel by car to Iowa and meet Pansy at her motel, the Milk Bottle Inn. They are still skeptical, but Pansy calls for "Michael" to come and meet the visitors. A slovenly man in his undershorts, and feathered wings on his back, descends the staircase, gets cigarettes and a beer, and briefly acknowledges the group before returning to his room.

Michael poster

The next morning, they watched in amazement as Michael eats his cereal topped with mounds of sugar. Pansy begins to cough uncontrollably and she dies. After her funeral, Michael agrees to return to Chicago with them to confirm his existence to Vartan Malt. He demands, however, that they stop along the way so that he can visit the "world's largest ball of twine."

At that roadside stop, Michael spies a large bull in a pasture and utters, "Combat!" He enters the field, calls out a challenge to the bull, and the two charge each other and butt heads violently. The bull ends up dazed and Michael brags that he's never lost a fight.

That night, they dine at country bar, where all the women are oddly attracted to Michael and he dances sensuously with all of them at once, angering their boy friends. A fight, to Michael's delight, ensues, and the group ends up in the local jail.

Bailed out by Vartan, they resume their road trip the next morning. Michael demands they stop to see the "word's largest Teflon frying pan" but, when they refuse, he causes a tire to blow out. A pair of young newlyweds arrive on the desolate road and provide them with a jack. The group has dinner that evening at a motel restaurant and order a large variety of pie slices from the bubbly waitress, who immediately becomes infatuated with Michael. Dorothy is persuaded by Quinlan to perform one of her original songs on the restaurant stage, and she sings a country & western lament about her three ex-husbands. Later, Dorothy and Quinlan, who have begun to more appreciate each other's qualities, kiss and they go to her room. The others retire to their rooms, Michael, with the waitress, and Huey with Sparky.

In the morning, Dorothy confesses to Quinlan that she is a dog trainer, not an expert on angels, and was sent by Vartan to protect his interests in obtaining Sparky. As they prepare to depart the motel, Sparky is hit by a passing truck and killed. Quinlan demands that Michael bring the little dog back to life, but he first declines, saying that it's not his "area." But Quinlan persists, and Michael picks up Sparky, his wings expand to their full expanse, and Sparky comes back to life. The group is jubilant, but Michael, feathers falling from his wings, explains that he has very little time left.

They arrive at the headquarters building in downtown Chicago but Michael, feathers continuing to fall loose, is too weak to walk. He says goodbye to them and vanishes. Quinlan tells Vartan that the story was a hoax and leaves the building, with Vartan following, Sparky clamped to his pants leg, begging him to stay.

That night, as Quinlan wanders the city, he spies what appears to be Michael, running away in the distance. He gives chase and encounters Dorothy, herself chasing Michael from the opposite direction. As they embrace, Michael and Pansy emerge from the shadows and dance together in the street before disappearing. MIchael has helped the two souls find their hearts.

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Michael was suggested for this site by Jordan Benedict.