Lawrence Kasdan has directed a number of fine comedies and dramas in his lengthy career, but there have been several standouts, such as "The Big Chill", "Mumford" and "French Kiss". This 1991 picture, written also by his wife Meg, is also a very fine effort, nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars.
The film stars quite a few people, but begins like this: a lawyer named Mack (Kevin Kline) has just left a basketball game and takes a shortcut when there's too much traffic on the road he's on. Unfortunately, he takes a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood and finds himself in trouble. Just in time, a tow-truck driver named Simon(Danny Glover) arrives. The two become close friends.
Elsewhere, a film producer (Steve Martin) undergoes a change after a tragic incident. Many characters are woven in and Kasdan's film easily moves between the stories. In many ways, "Grand Canyon" begins to remind me of Michael Winterbottom's recent film "Wonderland". In that film, characters go through tragedy, struggle and yet, they keep pushing onwards in life. There's a great deal going on in the film, not only the kind of friendship that develops between Kline and Glover's characters, but the sadness that Kline's characters' wife (Mary McConnell) feels when their child goes off to camp and she realizes that he's growing up.
Yes, "Grand Canyon" is a bit of a feel-good movie at times, but I think it doesn't step over the line into either being too sappy or overly dramatic. Performances by nearly all of the leads are quite impressive, and although the film does get a little bit slow in the middle section, overall I think Kasdan's film is quite enjoyable and well-done.
VIDEO: Fox has done a pretty remarkable job with the 10 year old "Grand Canyon". The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and like all new Fox releases, it is anamorphic. Sharpness and detail are excellent, with a few minor exceptions where scenes look the slightest bit soft.
What suprised me most (in a very good way) was the nearly complete lack of flaws. For a 10 year old film, the print used looks suprisingly clean. In a time where I've seen films that are just out of theaters contain some noticable marks and speckles, it's a pleasure to see a film of this age look so clean. I also noticed nothing in the way of pixelation, although there seemed to be a tiny bit of shimmer.
Colors are generally natural and nicely rendered, not looking particularly bold or vibrant, but not subdued or pale, either. Overall, this is a fine presentation from Fox, with the 10 year old film still looking almost "like new".
SOUND: "Grand Canyon" is presented in Dolby Digital 4.0, and there isn't a great deal of activity to the audio presentation. The film is mainly a dialogue-driven piece, with the occasional touch of music. A helicopter flys over every so often, but that's about it. Audio quality sounds fine, never thin or harsh. Dialogue is equally enjoyable, sounding natural and clear. A fine soundtrack, but limited in scope by the material.
MENUS:: Although menus are not animated, the film-themed images that make up the backgrounds are nicely done and prove to be an enjoyable intro.
EXTRAS: A very short promotional featurette and trailers for "Grand Canyon", "Smilla's Sense Of Snow", "Paradise Road", "Inventing The Abbotts", "The Ice Storm" and "Titus".
Positive: Although the material doesn't make for a very active audio presentation, Fox has done great work with the image quality for the film. The film itself is also well-written and acted. Recommended.
Negative: It would have been very nice to have a bit of a "10 year reunion" commentary from the cast or crew, but unfortunately the only extras are the trailers and featurette.
The Film *** 1/2
Video 92/A = (368/400 possible points)
Audio: 85/B = (340/400 possible points)
Extras: 73/C = (219/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 82/B = (246/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: *** 1/2
DVD GRADE: B