A mourning workaholic’s deceased wife comes back to haunt him, but in a benevolent way, trying to get him to change his dreary attorney life into a life where he has a relationship with his children and is happier with himself.
Bob and Harriet (Harry for short) have a fun and loving marriage in spite of Bob’s workaholic behavior. Harry’s goal in life is to get Bob out of the law office for a vacation, rekindling his long-time dream of seeing the world. She merrily adorns their bedroom with travel posters and saves never worn vacation clothes. Finally, their vacation approaches and she couldn’t be happier. She drags her somewhat reluctant husband into her joy, until she suddenly collapses from a brain hemorrhage. Life changes immediately for the family, which includes a young adult daughter and son. Particularly altered is life for Bob, especially when Harry comes singing into the room a month after her funeral. She has not relinquished her mission to save Bob from his stressful life. The twist is she doesn’t know she’s dead until she reads her death certificate. But that’s not going to stop her! And this leads to quite a few comic situations, being that only Bob can see and speak to Harry.
Sprinkled with a bit of “campy” and a pinch of slapstick, O’Hara’s Wife is an enjoyable comedy—if you’re in the mood to sit back and take in an early 80s show. The acting isn’t bad, although Jodie Foster, playing the daughter, seems totally bored with her role. And she probably was. Ed Asner and Marietta Hartley (Bob and Harriet) offer their accomplished TV style performances. Situations involving Bob interacting with invisible Harry are amusing and silly, and as we would expect, a little goofy. However, there is no God-honoring message in this film, and although Harry is a ghost, no afterlife hope is offered, especially when she tells Bob she doesn’t want him to die! Unfortunately, to pump up a couple of “dramatic” family scenes and to express tension between father and son, the characters use God’s name in vain twice, which seems out of sorts with the film, and makes it inappropriate for Dove families. Thus this film is not Dove approved.
What to talk about
The film is dated—produced in 1982 and made for TV.
The family unit is honored, and consequences are suffered for not spending enough time together.
The fact that Harry is a ghost gives rise to amusing situations, kind of like with the big invisible bunny Harvey.
No mention of God or Christ.
Oddly, Harry isn’t referred to as a ghost.
The Dove Take:
O’Hara’s Wife is a 1982 made-for-TV romantic comedy which is light and entertaining but unfortunately takes an unnecessary plunge in acceptability when God’s name is offensively used in vain.