A Night in Heaven (1983)


Christopher Atkins (The Blue Lagoon) and Lesley Ann Warren (Clue) star in this incredibly unfocused drama about a young community college teacher who enters into an affair with a handsome student failing her class. The tawdriness begins when she catches the student stripping at an all male-revue. He gives her a lap-dance and it’s all downhill from there. In curious subplots, we see the woman’s husband (Robert Logan) get fired from his NASA job, her friend (Deborah Rush) experience marital problems, the stripper’s mother (Carrie Snodgress) work multiple jobs, and his sister uproot and leave across the country for a boyfriend behind bars.

Just when you think A Night in Heaven might throw all those side stories aside and focus on the forbidden adultery between Atkins and Warren, it throws a tonal wrench into the fray, taking a slight Tarantinoesque detour at the climax. Needless to say, the ending is far from satisfactory. It doesn’t help in the slightest that none of the characters feel like real people in real relationships. The movie is even more mystifying when you learn it was written by Nashville‘s Joan Tewkesbury and directed by Oscar-winner John G. Avildsen (Rocky).

I would give A Night in Heaven a lower score, but there is a slight saving grace here. The two big strip club scenes are a cheesy hoot, full of totally ’80s music and awesome/horrible costumes. And sue me: Christopher Atkins is hella cute on the dance floor. There’s also a pretty steamy sex scene between Atkins and Warren later in the movie. These moments almost make the movie ‘so bad it’s good’. If the rest of the movie made the same commitment to corny salaciousness, we might have had something ‘awfully’ special.

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