Michael (1996 film)

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Michael ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNora Ephron
Screenplay byNora Ephron
Delia Ephron
Peter Dexter
Jim Quinlan
Story byJim Quinlan
Peter Dexter
Produced bySean Daniel
Nora Ephron
James Jacks
Delia Ephron
CinematographyJohn Lindley
Edited byGeraldine Peroni
Music byRandy Newman
Turner Pictures
Alphaville Films
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • December 25, 1996 (1996-12-25)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$119.7 million[1]

Michael is a 1996 American fantasy film directed by Nora Ephron. The film stars John Travolta as the Archangel Michael, who is sent to Earth to do various tasks, including mending some wounded hearts. The cast also includes Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Bob Hoskins, Joey Lauren Adams, and Robert Pastorelli as people who cross Michael's path.

The original music score was composed by Randy Newman. The dance scene and other location shots were filmed at the community center of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Cornhill, Texas, and on country roads near Walburg, Texas, as well as at Texas' Gruene Hall.


The National Mirror is a tabloid publication that reports primarily on unexplainable phenomena. The editor, Vartan Malt, receives a story tip about a woman living with an angel in her house in a small town in Iowa, and decides to send three staff members to investigate. He chooses Frank Quinlan; Huey Driscoll, a photographer and owner of the Mirror star Sparky the Wonder Dog; and Dorothy Winters, hired by Malt to eventually replace Driscoll.

At the boarding house of Pansy Milbank, they meet her tenant Michael. While Michael has wings and smells like cookies, he has an unexpected taste for cigarettes and sugar, seems rather boorish at first, and does not appear clean. When pressed for the type of angel he is, he replies he is an archangel, with Pansy boasting he triumphed over Lucifer in the War in Heaven.

After Pansy unexpectedly dies, Frank and Huey decide to take Michael to Chicago. Michael reveals that this was his plan from the beginning. During the trip, Michael's mission on Earth is slowly revealed to be to get Frank and Dorothy together despite both having had bad experiences with love.

After Sparky is hit by a truck and killed, Michael brings him back to life. In the process, he uses up his allotment of miracles and begins to weaken. The group reaches Chicago just in time for Michael to see the Sears Tower (which he has always wanted to see) before disappearing. After Frank and Dorothy go their separate ways, Michael returns one more time (this time with Pansy in tow) and successfully gets Frank and Dorothy back together for good.


John Travolta stars as the Archangel Michael.

Themes and interpretations[edit]

Contrary to popular depictions of angels, Michael is portrayed as a boozing, smoking slob – yet capable of imparting unexpected wisdom.[2]

Michael's shield in the War in Heaven, which Professor Christopher R. Miller argues influenced the film

Professor Christopher R. Miller compared the depiction of angels in Michael to John Milton's in Paradise Lost. Milton presented angels as "six-winged shapeshifters who patrol the galaxy, leaving a vapor trail of heavenly fragrance in their wake." Miller notes Michael is portrayed as warring on Lucifer with shields resembling "two broad suns," and credits Michael with referencing this mythology.[3]


The film received mixed to negative reviews, currently holding a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews. The site's consensus states: "John Travolta plays an angel in Nora Ephron's maudlin Michael, a grating comedy that doesn't tap into the heavenly charms of her best work."[4][5][6]

Box Office[edit]

The movie was a box office success. Released on Christmas Day, Michael finished number one at the box office that weekend, grossing $17,435,711 (roughly $3.4 million more than second-place Jerry Maguire, which was in its third week). The total domestic gross was $95,318,203, ranking Michael number 16 for 1996.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ Michael at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b "Spotlight On John Travolta In 'Michael,' The Actor Plays A Sexy Angel Whose Gospel Is Wine, Women And Song". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  3. ^ Miller, Christopher R. (May 24, 1998). "Winging It". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Levy, Emanuel (1997-01-04). "Michael". Variety. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  5. ^ "Michael". Entertainment Weekly. 1997-01-10. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  6. ^ "Michael". Rotten Tomatoes. 2020-01-16.
  7. ^ Brennan, Judy (1996-12-30). "Michael: Miracle at Box Office; Movies: Estimates show John Travolta's angel film setting a Christmas week record; 'Evita' and 'People vs. Larry Flynt' hit big in limited release". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  8. ^ "Jerry' Ties With Slowing 'Michael' at Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. 1997-01-06. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  9. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1996-12-27). "Michael Stars as Christmas' Screen Angel; Movies: The New Line movie fares well nationwide; 'Evita' sets a one-day house record in Hollywood and sells out a Manhattan theater". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-23.

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