Bobby (Lewis Smith) dies in a teenage car race in the 1950s and returns to Earth 30 years later as the guardian angel of Lenny (Jason Gedrick), a troubled modern-day teenager.
Bobby has been hanging out on the Midtown Express, a subway train for lost souls that travels through eternity and makes a stop only when a passenger embarks for Uptown (Heaven) or Downtown (you guessed it). The film makes witty use of Atlanta’s new subway system in creating a high-tech purgatory that features a cafe with an ominous neon sign: “We never close”.
Bobby’s guide in this otherwise cheerless netherworld is Rafferty (Richard Mulligan), a jaunty archangel who rides a mean motorcycle and sports a tweed cap, poncho and World War I flying goggles. He tells Bobby that his only chance to earn an Uptown ticket is to lend a hand to Lenny, a near-nerd whose lack of self-confidence is ruining his life.
Unaware of the cultural changes in the past 30 years, Bobby reappears on Earth determined to teach his young charge the basics of 1950s cool.
Gedrick is endearingly awkward in his character’s wimpy stage and resists the temptation to overplay after responding to his coach and entering his arrogant, macho phase. Comedy veteran Mulligan gives the film a lift whenever he appears. There is fine work, too, from Nancy Valen as Lenny’s girlfriend and Jane Kaczmarek and Mark Metcalf as his mother and father, who enter into the action in unexpected ways.
But it’s Lewis Smith who carries the film. In an expansive, sweet-natured performance, he captures the essence of a 1950s teenager and makes a strong bid for movie stardom.
William Kerwin (as Rooney Kerwin)