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Please can you find the name of a short film for me?

It involves a young, white man who has died. He is given a fixed amount of time to perform tasks that will count towards reaching Heaven. Bad actions will cost points but good ones, such as dancing, will score points. As he goes about his tasks, a score of his points is visible on the screen. He is a few points short of his goal when he is killed again (I think he was hit by a car), but a coin in his hand lands in a beggar's cup and he gets the final points he needs.

It was at least 20 years ago and was possibly from an independent filmmaker. The nemesis of the young man is an angel (or bureaucrat) who really doesn't want him to succeed.

I have tried ChatGPT and rejected the following suggestions:

  • Heaven Can Wait
  • The Bucket List
  • A Matter of Life and Death
  • Defending Your Life
  • A Life Less Ordinary
  • Meet Joe Black
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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Was this a live-action short or animated? Where did you see it? (Country and also TV, online, theatre...)
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 20:45
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    This reminds me of a Simpson Horror Show episode in which Homer died because of a broccoli. He was to perform a good deed within 24 hour if he wanted to go into heaven. Apparently a parody of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Dad which doesn't seem to be the movie.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 21:01
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    You tried to use a language model as a search engine and it failed?
    – Adamant
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 21:26
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    @Adamant to be fair, ChatGPT is pretty good at identifying movies when given a description
    – Ivo
    Commented Mar 15, 2023 at 7:32
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    @Ivo Well, it's pretty enthusiastic about it, anyway. Regardless of whether it knows the answer.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Mar 15, 2023 at 13:12

1 Answer 1

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This is Jason Reitman's In God We Trust (2000).

A speeding truck sends Robert into purgatory, with the probability of a warm climate. He escapes to Earth and tries to fix things before purgatory catches up with him.

A man standing in the middle of a road holding a coin is struck by a jeep. His soul (which looks just like his physical form) then steps off an elevator into Purgatory, which is represented as an office-like environment with clerks sitting behind desks and processing souls, one-by-one.

One of the clerks informs him that you accumulate a scorecard over your lifetime which determines whether you go to Heaven or Hell, and that the protagonist's score is slightly negative due to him racking up a large number of minor offenses. The protagonist attempts to plead his case, but the clerk isn't buying it.

During their conversation, the clerk is distracted by a computer glitch, and the protagonist takes the opportunity to dash back into the elevator, at which point he wakes up on a gurney in an ambulance back on Earth.

He then runs around town trying to say goodbye to his loved ones, and performs a series of good deeds along the way -- seemingly inadvertently in at least some instances -- which gradually improves his score, visually depicted on a computer monitor in Purgatory.

Meanwhile, the clerks in Purgatory keep trying to kill him again by using their computers to remotely influence events on a Earth, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Final Destination.

Near the end, a homeless man asks him for spare change. He doesn't have any, but sees a coin lying in the road, and when he picks it up, he's struck by a jeep again. The coin flies from his hand and lands in the homeless man's cup, which is just enough to turn the protagonist's score positive.

The film is just under 17 minutes in length. You can view the office scene at around the 2:05 mark in the video below:

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  • Good find! Since scifi.SE is a global audience and the OP is from the UK, it might improve this answer to point out that IN GOD WE TRUST is the official motto of the United States and appears on all US currency and coinage... hence the title of the movie as it relates to the importance of the coin in the movie.
    – shoover
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 17:05

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