Sally Field has been an actress that has gained a great deal of popularity through strong performances over the years. Although we haven't seen anything from her recently in terms of acting, she made her directorial debut late last year with "Beautiful", a film that lasted mere moments in theaters before exiting due to negative reaction. After watching "Beautiful", I have to say as well that, this isn't the kind of material one would want to have for their first time directing.
Minnie Driver stars as Mona Hibbard, a young woman who wants nothing more than to win the state beauty pageant, and she'll do anything to win. The only problem is that she finds herself with child, which is a no-no apparently with this contest. So, the unlikable Mona simply hands it off to her childhood friend, Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams), who pretends its hers. Nice friend - in reality, Ruby would have seen that Mona is simply using her ages ago. This situation is further added to by the fact that Adams always has such a likable personality that here, we feel sorry for her.
The film is painfully awkward in the way that it goes about telling its tale, moving lamely from attempts at comedy to tedious melodrama to just...nothing. May thought Driver was completely mis-cast as a beauty pageant contestant, but I think that she can look very attractive when she wants to. Unfortunately, that's not the case here as she does nothing for the role - in fact, this is probably the worst choice she's made in her career as the awful screenplay makes her character completely unlikable. Hallie Kate Eisenberg, the girl in the Pepsi ads, is completely irritating as Driver's child who she hands off to Ruby. To listen to her and Driver yell at one another is about as fun as listening to a child who doesn't get what they ask for in a toy store and begins to yell till they get their way. There's also talent wasted not on-screen, in the form of Robert D. Yeoman, the cinematographer who did great work with Wes Anderson's "Rushmore".
I don't know what "Beautiful" is, but it's definitely anything but attractive. Another in a line of failures from Destination films, the company that also brought out the awful "Whipped" and "Bats".
VIDEO: As usual, Tristar presents a fine effort with the image quality. "Beautiful" is offered both in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer with a full-frame edition on the flip side. The widescreen edition is generally pleasing, with good sharpness and detail and a picture that looks consistently crisp. There's really no flaws in the way of pixelation or shimmering, but some minor print flaws do appear a couple of times during the movie. Just a couple of minor marks here and there, but nothing terribly distracting. Colors remain bright and bold, looking well-saturated and pleasant. "Beautiful" isn't the most visually interesting picture, but Tristar at least does a respectable job with it here.
SOUND: "Beautiful" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but there's little (if any) activity with the sound presentation. It remains a dialogue-driven film throughout, with slight touches of music on occasion. The score has a minor presence in the overall presentation, but sounds clear and crisp. Dialogue generally sounds natural as well. The sound is pretty much about as basic as it gets.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with very basic images serving as backgrounds.
Positive: Tristar offers fine image quality.
Negative: Audio is put to rather minimal use, and the film is one of the least enjoyable I've seen lately.
The Film *
Video 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Audio: 82/B = (328/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 79/C+ = (237/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: *
DVD GRADE: C+