ALMOST AN Angel'' is almost a movie. That's a cheap shot, but it's almost unavoidable.
The producers of the film may have given away the best of their movie in the trailer. The trailer makes the film look very promising. The movie itself is a disappointment.
Paul Hogan stars. Hogan is the Australian who had phenomenal success with his two ''Crocodile Dundee'' films. He has a very easy, languid style, one that helped make the ''Crocodile'' films the fun they were.
The new film, however, is just too languid. It begins well. The plot may be familiar, but it is still serviceable. Unfortunately, it is not put to best use in this film, in which Hogan is a second-story man who is run down when he tries to save a young boy from being run over by a car.
He can't, however, go right to heaven. He has sinned too much for that, and he has to atone first. He must do one good deed, and this information is given him by God, who appears in the hospital in the form of Charlton Heston.
Now that's inspired casting. It makes for a really shining bit, but this happens very early in the film, and nothing that takes place thereafter can quite match it.
The movie does continue to divert for a time, thanks to Hogan and his co-star, Linda Kozlowski, Mrs. Hogan in real life. The couple's double-barreled charm, however, cannot save the latter portion of the film.
Elias Koteas is the crippled young man who is befriended by Terry Dean (Hogan). Koteas, a Robert De Niro look-alike, is also big on charm, so once more, if charm were all that is necessary to carry a good film, this would one make it.
''Almost an Angel,'' however, becomes increasingly mawkish as it dissipates. It also comes to a rather abrupt end. When it does, you are left feeling that there is more to be said, more to be done.
''Almost an Angel'' is especially amusing when Dean disguises himself as Willie Nelson and stages a holdup. It is equally funny when Dean visits a church to talk to a priest about being half an angel, a man who has to do that good deed before he can make it to heaven.
There are other scenes that please rather than overwhelm, and the film does have something new, a wheelchair chase, but none of this is enough to disguise the fact that ''Almost an Angel'' is just too leisurely for its own good.
The film opens here today. Kozlowski, blond in the two ''Crocodile'' movies, goes brown for ''Almost an Angel.'' She is almost as lovely a brunet as she is a blond. She plays Rose, who returns home to care for her brother.
''Almost an Angel''
** A petty thief, ''killed'' in an accident, must return to Earth and do a good deed before he can be admitted to heaven.
CAST: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Elias Koteas, Charlton Heston, Douglas Seale
DIRECTOR: John Cornell
RATING: PG (language)
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes