Campaign (2012/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/My
Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD)/Sweet Home Alabama
& C/B- & C+ & C-/B-
Sound: B-/B & B-/B- & C+/B-
Extras: C Films: C
not been as big a fan of comedy films since political correctness and a mall
movie mentality started to seep into them in the 1980s. They have actually been an excuse to do
romance, melodrama and unfunny, dumb, boring, predictable things in a film that
otherwise wants to pass itself off as comical.
That is how I feel about the following releases, which all happened to
have been box office hits, usually surprise hits at that.
Marshall’s Beaches (1988) has Bette
Midler and Barbara Hershey as old friends (Midler as a (surprise) performer,
Hershey as a rich gal) who met a long time ago and stayed in touch, even if
they did not see much of each other.
Eventually, performer CC is still in dire straights when her old friend
gets together with her to help, but things are about to take a few turns for
the worst starting with them being involved with the same man.
there, this just gets sappier and sappier until it becomes implausible and in
the end, I never bought it, but enough people did and it was a big hit complete
with Midler’s endlessly played hit “Wind
Beneath My Wings” (more overplayed than For Your Eyes Only, a song and film Midler enjoyed bashing years
before) which is actually a song cut by several singers before her with less
success. Marshall is just a master of playing the audiences’
emotions and I doubt in fairness few directors could have made this into a hit
as he did, yet I do not think the film has aged well and except as a curio or
nostalgia was never that good. Now you
can see for yourself.
include Bloopers, an AFI 100 Years…
clip on that song, Midler singing that song on The Grammys, Hershey’s Screen
Test, feature length audio commentary by Marshall
and Mayim (Big Bang Theory) Bialik Remembers Beaches featurette, as her
presence has added a new curio aspect to the film.
less sentimental side, Jay Roach’s The
Campaign (2012) was a surprise hit in a year with too much free politics
all over the media, but even this dumbed-down goof-fest managed to do business
with Will Ferrell as a phony career politician taking on a pushover puppet
(Zach Galifianakis) when he turns out to me more formal than he expected,
turning on him when he finds out how his hometown is in jeopardy and he is
some laughs here, but even in this longer cut, not enough to justify a
full-length film, so see it once uncut at best to get all the laughs out of
it. However, I give it points for going
after the infamous Koch Brothers in the great casting of Dan Ackroyd and John
Lithgow perfect as surrogate versions of the real thing. It may also serve as some kind of incidental
time capsule to whatever the final 2012 political year turns out to be. I also enjoyed Brain Cox among the good
supporting cast, but beware that this is very politically incorrect and seems
to get desperate in the end.
include Ultraviolet Copy, a Gag Reel, Line-O-Rama section and Deleted Scenes.
stereotyping is directly crude as some semi-ethnic comedies show. Like Moonstruck
before it, Joel Zwick’s My Big Fat Greek
Wedding (2002) does for Greek archetypes-as-stereotypes what the earlier
film did for Italians. Not that that is
a good thing, but it is at least somewhat regressive, but both were hits and
for a while, it looked like new star Nia Vardalos (who repeated this as a TV
show and second feature film with much less commercial success) might become a
She is an
emotionally oppressed young Greek-American gal who has a father (Michael
Constantine of the TV classic Room 222)
who has been trying to get her married since far before she could do that
legally, a family that can be supportive, but is also dysfunctional and just
wants to have some space to make her own decisions. Enter a guy (John Corbett) she might be
interested in and might be compatible with.
there, it becomes an amusing romance at times and to its advantage, shows some
sides of Greek like we do not see often (versus Moonstruck, where Italian characters (real and unreal) are all over
filmmaking and TV, et al), the couple has some on screen chemistry and
Constantine steals every scene he is in making this more watchable than it
would be otherwise.
On its 10th
anniversary, it is not as dated as it might otherwise be, but I always thought
it was overrated (guess I am not its intended audience) and that makes it
another curio overall. One-time boy band
guy Joey Fatone is here being annoying, which is no stretch for him either. Lainie Kazan and Andrea Martin are good,
include Deleted Scenes, A Look Back… featurette and original 2002 feature
length audio commentary by Vardalos, Corbett and Zwick.
we have Andy Tennant’s Sweet Home
Alabama (2002) named after the now-positively-annoying Lynyrd Skynyrd hit
from 1974, “rehabilitated” here as the harmless oldie now connected to this
goofy tale of a wife (Reese Witherspoon) who runs away from the home of the
title to have success in New York City as a classy gal and fashion designer in
high society. Of course, her past is
about to haunt her as the husband is coming back and laughs supposedly will
like a semi-take-off of the much funnier Bette Midler comedy Big Business on some level, this
predictable light-weight romp was a hit but was never that good wither (Tennant
is a TV director and his features even feel like simple TV) so it is the star
power of Witherspoon that helped sell this, but seeing it again now, Candice
Bergen really helped here and Patrick Dempsey having had a big hit TV series
since makes this a curio on its own 10th Anniversary.
include SHEDaisy Music Video for their song “Mine All Mine” from the film (see them elsewhere on this site), an
Alternate Ending that does not make much of a difference, Tennant introducing 8
Deleted Scenes and a feature length audio commentary by Tennant.
1.85 X 1 (on Beaches and Campaign), 1.78 X 1 (on Greek) and 2.35 X 1 (Alabama) digital High Definition image
transfers on all four Blu-rays have some good shots, but the older films have
their share of dated shots ands Campaign
has detail limits and motion blur from being an HD shoot. They also all have their moments of grain (or
noise in the case of Campaign) that
goes along with their flatly shot cinematography meant to too often emulate an
upscale TV sitcom approach. Still, I
cannot imagine any of them looking much better with the older films have pretty
consistent color and only some serious money spent to upgrade them could make
them that much better visually. Campaign and Greek also come with lesser anamorphically enhanced DVD versions
that are softer and Greek just
recycles a very old DVD version of itself.
So bad in fact that it also features a horrid 1.33 X 1 pan & scan
version of the film that should have been buried years ago.
Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and all were digital
5.1 sound releases theatrically to begin with save Beaches, which debuted at its best in theaters with a 4.1, 6-track
Dolby magnetic sound mix. All are
dialogue and joke-based, so we did not expect great sonics, but I give credit
to Campaign for offering a
surprisingly warm and consistent soundfield throughout. The DVD versions of Campaign and Greek
feature lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that are not as good as the DTS on their
Blu-ray counterparts and make both films seem weaker as a result.
- Nicholas Sheffo