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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Fried Green Tomatoes – Extended Anniversary Edition

Fried Green Tomatoes – Extended Anniversary Edition


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: B



I was totally won over by Fried Green Tomatoes when I first saw it theatrically in January of 1992 (it received a limited release in late December, 1991 to qualify for awards consideration before going wide in late January, 1992).  In fact, I ended up seeing the film a second time in theaters a few months later and it ended up in the No. 5 spot on my annual best-10 list.


Universal's new Extended Version on DVD (it runs 7 minutes longer than the original theatrical cut) enticed me to watch the film again recently for the first time in more than 14 years.  And while there's no doubt it remains a good film, I came away feeling I might have rated Fried Green Tomatoes a bit too highly all those years ago.  Of course, I'm in my middle 30s now as opposed to my early 20s, and I've obviously grown more jaded and cynical since then.  As a result, Fried Green Tomatoes seemed a little more hokey and manipulative this time around, even though it's still an immensely likable, wonderfully-performed film.


The pivotal character in Fried Green Tomatoes is an unhappy, overweight Southern housewife named Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates), who's settled into a humdrum, unfulfilling life with her longtime husband, Ed (Gailard Sartain), who praises her cooking, but would rather eat it sitting in front of the TV watching sports instead of sitting at the table and talking to her.  Ed's not a bad guy like another abusive louse we meet in the movie.  He's simply inattentive and addicted to sports -- if this were a crime, half the men in America would be on death row.


While visiting one of Ed's relatives in a nursing home, Evelyn meets a spirited nursing-home resident named Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy).  The elderly Ninny starts telling the repressed Evelyn intriguing tales of a tomboyish, independent-minded young woman named Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson), and her best friend, Ruth (Mary Louise Parker), who together ran the Whistle Stop Café in a tiny town called Whistle Stop, Alabama during the Great Depression.


As the film intercuts between Idgie's story in the 1930s and Evelyn's in the present day, Ninny's tales of Idgie and Ruth help inspire Evelyn to become more assertive, regain her self-esteem and take more control of her life.


Based on Fannie Flagg's novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, the film's screenplay was co-written by Flagg and Carol Sobieski (apparently with much uncredited help from director Jon Avnet).  Their collaboration is a warm-hearted, touching and funny ode to female bonding and the importance of friendship.


Universal's new digitally remastered 117-minute Extended Edition -- also called the Anniversary Edition -- comes with a very nice 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer.  The picture is sharp and clear throughout, and the color is fittingly vivid and bright.  The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound is also good, even though I still had to use the subtitles the catch the occasional line because of the thick Southern accents of the characters -- a problem more inherent in the film itself than with the DVD soundtrack.


The special features on this version include a few deleted scenes, a few outtakes and a newly produced making-of featurette combining on-set interviews from 1991 with more recently-recorded retrospectives from cast and crew.  There's a feature-length audio commentary with director Avent, where he repeats a lot of the same information contained in the making-of documentary.  Rounding out the extras are Avnet's director's notes where he talks about the way he wants to set up scenes; recipes of food shown in the film; the various poster campaigns considered prior to the film's release; and production photographs.



-   Chuck O'Leary


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