If we had an guardian angel on Earth, what would that angel teach us?
If you’re Lenny Barnes (Jason Gedrick) and your guardian angel is Bobby Fontana (Lewis Smith), you would learn how to be cool (60s style) to win the girl of your dreams. Such is the premise of The Heavenly Kid.
See, Bobby Fontana was too cool for his own good. So much so that he bit it in a drag race with Joe Barnes (Mark Metcalf) “defending his honor” after Barnes makes a play for Fontana’s girlfriend Emily (Jane Kaczmarek). But before Bobby can go Uptown a/k/a Heaven, he is given an assignment by the angel Rafferty (Richard Mulligan): befriend a nerdy kid named Lenny, who it seems is in need of friends.
After many years riding the Midtown subway until an assignment is found for him, Bobby arrives with Rafferty to Fort Lauderdale and watches Lenny as the teen works at his job as a waiter at a local burger joint. Lenny has a crush on popular girl Sharon (Anne Sawyer), not even noticing that his friend Melissa (Nancy Valen) has a crush on him. It seems no way that Lenny could attract Sharon’s eye. For one thing, she already has a boyfriend, Fred Gallo (Stephen Gregory) and the other thing, Lenny is a “spazola” according to Bobby. But as Bobby Fontana says “I’ve got it covered.” After convincing Lenny that he is “not of this Earth” and is an angel, Bobby goes to work on operation transformation Lenny into a cool kid. Lenny gets a new wardrobe which makes this 80s kid look 60s James Dean cool. Don’t forget the hair gel. Bobby also makes over an old junk car into a “Dream Machine.”
The problem is cool Lenny becomes obnoxious jerk Lenny. He may have won the attention of Sharon but lost Melissa’s respect. Plus, Lenny becomes disrespectful to his mother. Bobby gets a shock when he learns that Lenny’s mother is Fontana’s old girlfriend Emily and the kid’s dad is Joe Barnes. An angry Bobby tells Rafferty he wants out of this assignment. He’ll do something else to get to Uptown. But after revealing himself to Emily, the old lovers take a stroll down memory lane and Emily shocks Bobby by confessing that Lenny is his son! Emily was pregnant at the time of Bobby’s death, and Joe Barnes stepped up and married her, raising Lenny as his own. The couple later had two other boys. Returning to the bar in Midtown, Bobby celebrates that he has a son. But then, he catches a glimpse of Rafferty’s log book of new arrivals and spots the name Lenny Barnes. It seems that Fred Gallo will challenge Lenny to a drag race, Lenny will accept and meet the same fate as Bobby. Although it is against the rules to interfere with the outcome of the new arrivals, Bobby begs Rafferty to allow him to save Lenny. After Bobby tells Rafferty that he’d give up his soul to save Lenny’s life, Rafferty agrees to let Fontana intervene.
On the day of the drag race, Joe and Emily rush to the site to stop their son. But unfortunately they are too late as the car Lenny is driving goes off the cliff and Emily relives the horror of the worst night of her life. This time with her son. Lenny doesn’t die though, Bobby popped into the car right as it went over the cliff and got his son out. Lenny has learned two valuable lessons: 1. Drag racing is bad and 2. Love was right in front of him the entire time.
Bobby has earned his ticket Uptown because he was willing to sacrifice himself for someone else. The movie closes as Lenny watches Bobby travel (via Rafferty’s motorcycle) into the clouds and Bobby takes the escalator Uptown as the soundtrack plays Joe Fiore’s The Heavenly Kid (Out on the Edge).
I love The Heavenly Kid now as much as I did when I first seen it back in the mid-80s. I decided to see the movie because Lewis Smith was in it. As a uber fan of the 1985 miniseries North and South in which Lewis played Charles Main, cousin to Patrick Swayze’s Orry, I made it my mission to see the work of all the actors from North and South. I’m glad I discovered The Heavenly Kid. Not only because of Lewis Smith but the film also introduced me to Jason Gedrick, a very talented actor, whose career I’ve followed ever since. Who could forget his turn as the beast and murderous Liam in The CW’s Beauty and The Beast?
And if you love 1980s music, The Heavenly Kid has an awesome soundtrack! My three favorite songs are “The Heavenly Kid (Out on the Edge),” “Animal Attraction” and “Heart of Love.” The Heavenly Kid is a fun movie with a great soundtrack.
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