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In Short: Fairly funny Steve Martin/Goldie Hawn film gets a goregous DVD transfer from Paramount.

The Movie:

Comedic superhero Steve Martin nearly saves the day in yet another fish-out-of-water picture about a Midwestern Couple(Martin,Hawn) thrown into the big city of New York and end up having one very, very long night. The film is a merger of a couple of genres and although it does have a few amusing moments, the mixture of fish-out-of-water and the road movie here will likely leave viewers with a bad taste in their mouths.

The last child of the family has just left the house, and although the couple originally thought they'd have more time to spend together, they find they now have absolutely nothing to say to one another. On top of that, Henry(Martin) has just lost his job at the local ad agency. Not exactly the best way to start off a comedy, but it does begin to find its groove. More than I'd expected from the writer of this film, Marc Lawrence, who was also responsible for "Forces Of Nature" a few weeks back. This film has some of the same style as that film(gags are set up well in advance for the audience and practically drawn out, just in case they happen to not get the point), but ultimately, it's the talents of the three lead actors that bring this film up to an acceptable level.

The two of them set off for New York City for Henry's new job interview in sort of a mini-movie of its own, where the couple proceed to miss every connection on their way in sort of a miniature version of "Plains, Trains and Automobiles". There are some funny moments here and there through this opening as Hawn finds her way into the trip at the last moment and the couple have to deal with a broken interactive map system as they find their way around New York City. All slightly funny, but that's the problem. The movie has potential, a whole lot more than "Forces Of Nature" has, it's just that the movie simply doesn't care to try. It's happy to stay at the very basic level of comedy, keeping things predictable and lighter than air.

The two finally make it to their hotel after being mugged by a certain "celebrity". It's not that scene that's particularly funny, but the line that Hawn has at the scene's end is priceless and I definitely won't ruin it. At the hotel they run smack dab into the movie's treasure; a snotty hotel manager played with wonderful and razor sharp comic timing by none other than John Cleese, who gives the film the perfect little edge it needs as he threatens his staff with various harm if they don't see to it that the visiting celebrities are treated with the utmost class. It's unfortunate though that Cleese is only sprinkled throughout the movie; we see him here and there, but after every scene he's in, I wished he was in more of the film. It's thanks to not only Cleese, but Martin and Hawn that we actually care about these characters. The screenplay may not try, but the actors definitely do.

Martin is especially great here and in an interesting way; he actually seems to be trying to restrain himself and in trying to hold back, he's actually funnier as we watch the underlying comic tension about to implode from within. Hawn is alright here, but there were plenty of moments where she began to whine, which inevitably lead to yet another arguement between her and Martin. Those are the only points where the film begins to fall apart or become tedious; there are instances where the two just yell at each other, and after a while, it begins to feel tiresome as the two find themselves out in New York at night without food or a place to stay.

The film does become scene after scene of random chaos as the two run from an attack dog into a rather interesting meeting into falling off a hotel sign into getting arrested in central park into.... well, you get the idea. It's the fish-out-of-water story mixed in with a touch of getting-to-know-your-significant-other as the couple find themselves falling in love all over again amidst all the adventures they have. For all of the funny moments as Martin tries to climb down the side of a hotel there are some painfully unfunny ones, such as Martin and Hawn getting caught by the mayor of New York while they're in Central Park. As the film rounds the corner towards the close, it becomes a little slow; we're waiting for it to just get to the point already and thankfully it does. Although the ending is a complete Hollywood ending, I actually didn't mind it because as simplistic as the screenplay was, I actually didn't mind spending 90 minutes with these two characters and, in movies today, that's saying quite a bit. Again, if it wasn't for Martin and Hawn's talent, this would be an awful film to sit through.

Again, this is one of those films that are simply dissapointing not because it doesn't have potential. There is certainly a great movie here, but the actors are standing alone in the desire to try for greater heights. Standing in their way are a screenwriter who doesn't seem to want anything to rise above the level of sitcoms(and not even good sitcoms) and a director(Sam Weisman of "George Of The Jungle") who doesn't seem to have the desire to skim any deeper than the surface of comedic possibilities. It's not an awful film, but it's nothing terribly entertaining either. The film is paced to quickly to be terribly tedious(or terribly memorable), anyways. I will say that about the picture: it does know not to overstay its welcome. A fairly mindless, sometimes amusing 90 minutes at the movies.

The DVD VIDEO: Paramount has done some very, very good work lately("A Simple Plan") and ever since they started doing anamorphic transfers, they have gotten more and more impressive with each and every effort. They've done some phenomenal work with older titles even, like "3 Days Of The Condor" and "Congo"(which looked especially fabulous). "The Out-Of-Towners" is an especially beautiful anamorphic transfer and this is consistently a great image. The image is consistently very clean, crisp and razor sharp with excellent detail. Images are bright and rich with vibrant, strong colors that are very well-saturated.

There are none of the usual flaws here. No shimmering, no pixelization, no flaws with the print used. This is a smooth, clean and completely "film-like" image that remains excellent throughout. This is excellent work by Paramount.

SOUND: "The Out Of Towners" is all dialogue backed by a pop score from Marc Shaiman. Dialogue sounds clear, clean and very full, like the action is going on in the same room and the musical score sounds natural and pure. There's really not much else going on; this is completely dialogue-driven.

MENUS: Basic main menus based on the poster art.

EXTRAS::A full-frame trailer that's in good condition.





The Film: 85/B = (425/500 possible points)
Video: 98/A = (392/400 possible points)
Audio: 84/B = (336/400 possible points)
Extras: 68/D = (204/300 possible points)
Menus: 73/C = (146/200 possible points)
Value: 84/B = (252/300 possible points)

TOTAL POINTS:1755/2100
Average:84%/B


DVD Information




The Out Of Towners Paramount Home Video
1.85:1/Dolby Digital 5.1(and 2.0)(and French 2.0)
English Subtitles
Dual Layer:No
Rated:PG-13
1999
Released On:9/21/99
Anamorphic:Yes
Region:1

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