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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > War > Satire > Romance > School > Party > Sexploitation > Spiritual > Boxing > Aging > Americanization Of Emily (1964/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/At Middleton (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Best Night Ever (2013/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Chances Are (1989/Tri-Star/Image Blu-ray)/Grudge Match (201

Americanization Of Emily (1964/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/At Middleton (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Best Night Ever (2013/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Chances Are (1989/Tri-Star/Image Blu-ray)/Grudge Match (2013/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: B/B-/C+/B-/B- & C Sound: B- (Grudge DVD: C) Extras: B/C/C-/D/C- Films: B-/C-/C-/C+/C-

PLEASE NOTE: The Americanization Of Emily Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are some new comedy releases, but most missed the mark...

Arthur Hiller's The Americanization Of Emily (1964) is a film written by the late, great Paddy Chayefsky from the William Bradford Huie novel about a huckster who supplies hard-to-get-goods to people for a price (James Garner) when he is recruited in part to do a film about the D-Day landing as it happens so the Navy can claim one of their own was the first killed there, no matter how the attack turns out. He gets involved with a British officer (Julie Andrews) and is forced to work with a womanizing friend (James Coburn) in a tale that manages the paradox of being anti-War without being anti U.S. Military.

This is not to say the film is without some moments that are now dated in the cyber era, as the very necessity of the film before satellite TV might be hard for some to catch onto, but I also thought some scenes were better than others. It is sometimes talky, but has to be to work and some of the comedy is funny, while other moments are ironic. They leads are backed by Melvyn Douglas, the underrated Liz Fraser, William Windom, Keenan Wynn, Alan Sues, Steve Franken, Judy Carne and uncredited turns by Kent McCord and Sharon Tate.

It is nice Warner Archive has issued this as one of their Blu-ray exclusives because the film was arriving at the same time as Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove and Lumet's Fail Safe and belongs in the same school of thought of films (all coincidentally filmed in black and white) taking a look at the U.S. Military, war and asking questions about it all as relevant now as ever. Hiller (Love Story, Penelope, Silver Streak, The Hospital, Making Love) is one of Hollywood's underrated gentlemen journeyman director's who proved you could make quality films and even have a few blockbusters. Great to see one of his most ambitious films get such fine treatment.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Hiller, Vintage Behind The Scenes Featurette Action On The Beach and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Adam Rogers' At Middleton (2012) has potential as parents Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga meet at a tour day at a new school for their respective children. At first, it is a meet cute that has some good moments well handled by the leads and we get some amusing moments, but too soon, the script runs out of ideas and this slowly unravels into the very silliness that was at first avoided for the remaining of its long 100 minutes.

Tom Skerritt even shows up, but it is far too late to save it and what was starting out as a pleasant surprise lands up going sour in the worst way. Geez.

Extras include Outtakes, an Andy Garcia song for the film and a feature length audio commentary track with Garcia, Rodgers and Co-Writer/Co-Producer Glenn German.

It took two directors and the makers of wastes of time like Date Movie, Meet The Spartans and Epic Movie to give us the near-total mess that is the ironically titled Best Night Ever (2013), though if you spend your night making this your main movie viewing, it will be one of your worst nights ever. Four gals go to Vegas and party away because one of them is getting married, but the sexcapades and fun quickly becomes stupid and absurd. The problem is that the script is stupid stupid, not funny stupid.

Making things worse, the makers apparently think this is funny, but it is just a waste of four good actresses and all involved are not really even trying. This is a package deal all the way and a lame dud. Skip it!

Extras sadly include Cast Interviews, Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes and an AXS-TV clip to promote this release.

Emile Ardolino (Dirty Dancing) was looking for another big hit when he helmed Chances Are (1989) bringing together Cybill Shepard (off of her Moonlighting comeback) and a young Robert Downey, Jr. trying to keep it together in his early success before personal issues forced him to have a hiatus from Hollywood. She is happily married when her husband dies, but he gets a strange choice to be reborn as another man (Downey) to go back to his wife for a second chance. They need to give him a forgetness shot to make this work (a disturbing twist in the Reagan 1980s), but miss him before he is sent back.

From there he is now in competition for her with another guy played by Ryan O'Neal before his own downward spiral (he and Shepherd are Peter Bogdanovich alumni, which did not escape the producer's minds we bet) and her daughter (Mary Stewart Masterson) starts to become interested in Downey. Call Dr. Freud!

Sure, Back To The Future offered some precedent for that one, but the film was always a mixed bag and not that great, yet a curio for its cast (now more than ever), director and the fact that its end theme song After All by Cher & Peter Cetera was a bigger hit than the film (#1 Adult Contemporary and #6 Pop with Billboard) giving both a much-needed hit at the time. Tri-Star did some business with it, but it remains an odd film often forgotten and ever awkward, so it is good Image has issued it on Blu-ray so people can get a good second look at it no matter what.

There are unfortunately no extras.

Finally we have the lame package deal Grudge Match (2013) which has Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as former boxers who land up having one last match while spending their careers highly disliking each other. It is supposed to take place in Pittsburgh, which hardly has anything like boxing, yet is not shot there and barely looks like it and a highly contrived script that goes on and on and on and on. Kim Basinger shows up looking good and Trevor Rabin even did the music, but nothing, nothing can save this dud and it is even embarrassing at times. Blah!

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, 4 superfluous featurettes, an Alternate Opening and two Alternate Endings, meaning they had no idea what they wanted to do with this one.

Of the five 1080p digital High Definition image transfers on the Blu-rays here, the 1.85 X 1 black and white print and playback on Emily is clearly the champ with fine detail, depth and a print that has solid Video Black. The 1.78 X 1 Middleton, 1.85 X 1 Chances (which looked cleaner, clearer, less grainy and more smooth in 35mm prints) and 1.85 X 1 Grudge transfers tie for second place due to various imperfections and limitations. The anamorphically enhanced Grudge DVD is the poorest performer on the list, looking way too soft for its won good and very hard to watch. That leaves the 1.78 X 1 on Night with more motion blur and flaws than a new HD shoot should have also making it the sloppiest shoot on the list.

Sound on all five Blu-rays are equal with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Night and Grudge having lacking soundfields, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Middleton with the same issue but quieter with more dialogue, leaving the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Chances and even the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono mix on Emily (sounding surprisingly good for its age) more than able to compete. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Grudge DVD is way behind sounding very weak and lite.

To order the Americanization Of Emily Blu-ray from Warner Archive, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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