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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.

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

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's Gruene Hall.

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



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 it is slowly revealed that Michael's mission on Earth is 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 interpretationsEdit

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 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 37 reviews.[4][5]

Box officeEdit

The movie was a hit at the box office. Released on Christmas Day, Michael finished number one at the box office that weekend, grossing $17,435,711 (roughly $3.4 million more than 2nd place Jerry Maguire, which was in its 3rd week). The total domestic gross was $95,318,203, ranking Michael #16 for the year 1996.[6][7][8]


  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. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Jerry' Ties With Slowing 'Michael' at Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. 1997-01-06. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  8. ^ 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.

External linksEdit