Chances Are (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chances Are
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEmile Ardolino
Written byPerry Howze
Randy Howze
Produced byMike Lobell
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited byHarry Keramidas
Music byMaurice Jarre
Color processMetrocolor
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1989 (1989-03-10)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million
Box office$16.3 million [1]

Chances Are is a 1989 American romantic comedy film directed by Emile Ardolino and starring Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr., Ryan O'Neal, and Mary Stuart Masterson in Panavision. The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre.[2]


Young district attorney Louie Jeffries is hit by a car and dies in 1964, but manages to slip by the pearly gates and is instantly reborn. In 1987, 23 years later, his widow Corinne still misses him, ignoring the frustrated devotion of his best friend Phillip Train, who has practically raised Louie's only daughter Miranda as his own. Miranda, while a student at Yale University, meets Alex Finch, who works in the library but is about to graduate.

After graduation, Alex heads to Washington, D.C., where he makes his way to the offices of The Washington Post. His first attempts to meet with Ben Bradlee thwarted, he schemes his way into his office by pretending to be a delivery man.

Alex walks into Bradlee's office, with Phillip behind him. Confounded by the young man, Bradlee asks who he is. When Alex attempts to remind him of their meeting at Yale, Phillip vouches for him, which changes his mind about giving him a meeting. Unfortunately, Bradlee feels Alex needs more time working on smaller papers before he can offer him a job. Feeling defeated, Alex leaves his office.

Phillip finds Alex downstairs in the lobby, who offers him a ride, during which Phillip invites Alex to meet the Jeffries family over dinner. While at the Jeffries' home, which he hadn't ever been to, Alex begins to have flashbacks of a previous life. Anguished, he begins to act crazed and confused. Putting the pieces together, Alex realizes he is Louie Jeffries, Corinne's dead husband, reincarnated.

Miranda, wanting to continue the flirtation that started when they met, is confused when Alex rebuffs her, sending her to her room when she kisses him. Alex then goes to Corrine and tries to convince her that he's Louie. At first she doesn't believe him, but he tells her details about their earlier life together that only Louie would know.

Corrine finally gives in and they kiss. Taking a trip together away from town, she is a little disturbed when people think Alex is her son. Louie/Alex wants to make love, but Corrine reveals she hasn't had sex since Louie died.

One night when Alex and Corrine are together, they're caught by Phillip, who accuses Alex of being a gold digger. Louie/Alex then reminds Phillip he declared his love for Corinne to Louie on their wedding day. Phillip is confused and tries to punch him but gets knocked out instead. Corinne rushes to Phillip's side, and yells at Alex to get out of the room. Louie/Alex realizes then that she loves Phillip too, so Louie must let go.

Corrine slips a note under Alex's door, apologizing and saying she'll visit him later. Alex puts the still-unconscious Phillip in his bed, so that when Corinne arrives, thinking he's Louie, she accidentally kisses Phillip. He's ecstatic, and Corinne realizes she loves him too. They make love.

Alex spends the night in his car. The next day, he bursts into a courtroom and accuses the judge of accepting a bribe (Alex remembers himself as Louie taking the incriminating photographs of the then younger judge back in 1964). Phillip, who's also in the courtroom, realizes only Louie would know that fact, and now believes Alex is Louie. Alex tells Phillip the location of his camera with the photographs of the judge accepting the bribe.

Attempting to escape from the commotion in the courtroom, Alex falls down the stairs, hits his head, and ends up in the hospital. While unconscious, Omar the angel visits him, and gives him the special "shot" he should have gotten 23 years previous, to forget his past life.

When Alex wakes, he's completely forgotten about being Louie, and he tells Miranda that the last thing he remembers is their kissing in the kitchen of her house. She is relieved and delighted.

Newspaper headlines show the judge charged with accepting the bribe. Impressed by Alex's journalistic prowess in exposing the corrupt judge, Bradlee offers him a job as a reporter at the Post. Corinne and Phillip get married, and at their wedding, Alex tells him he's in love with Miranda, just as Phillip told Louie he was in love with Corinne on their wedding day all those years earlier.



Cybill Shepherd inside the "Smithsonian Castle" during the filming of Chances Are, where she plays a Smithsonian curator. She is presented with an honorary Resident Associate Program membership, by (l.) National Museum of American History (NMAH) Curator Edith Mayo and NMAH Director of External Affairs, Marilyn Lyons

The film was known prior to production as Life After Life and Unforgettable.[3]

Chances Are was Cybill Shepherd's first film in a number of years. Her profile had risen since she starred in the television series Moonlighting, and she made the film during a production hiatus from the series.

Many scenes were filmed in Georgetown, along the Mall, Glen Echo Park, Smithsonian museums, and other parts of Washington, D.C.


Chances Are received generally positive reviews from critics, but did not do well at the box office. As of May 2024, the film holds a rating of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes from 33 reviews.[4]

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun Times gave the film 3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars saying, “"Chances Are" is a lighthearted romance about reincarnation, told with wit and a certain irony.”[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[6] Best Original Song "After All"
Music by Tom Snow;
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
BMI Film & TV Awards Most Performed Song from a Film Won
Golden Globe Awards[7] Best Original Song – Motion Picture Nominated


The soundtrack included the Billboard's Top 10 single hit song "After All" (composed by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford) performed by Cher and Peter Cetera. The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1989. Another is the song of the same title as the film sung by Johnny Mathis. Although the film contains other songs, a soundtrack album has never been released.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chances Are at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2005), "Chapter 6: Reincarnation", The woman who pretended to be who she was: myths of self-imitation, Oxford University Press, pp. 112–136 [128–31 & 135], ISBN 0-19-516016-9
  3. ^ Cinefile: [Home Edition] Klady, Leonard. Los Angeles Times 14 Aug 1988: 32.
  4. ^ "Chances Are". Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Chances Are movie review & film summary (1989) | Roger Ebert". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2024-02-28.
  6. ^ "The 62nd Academy Awards (1990) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  7. ^ "Chances Are – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.

External links[edit]