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Polish Wedding
Fox Searchlight
1.85:1(NON ANAMORPHIC)/Dolby 2.0
107 Minutes
Rated:PG-13
Region:1
Dual Layer:No
Reviewed on a Panasonic A110

The Film:
"Polish Wedding" tells the tale of a Polish-American family living in Detroit headed by Bolek(Gabriel Byrne) and Jadzia(Lena Olin). It's a simple story, generally taking us through the stories of the family's lives, with a focus on a pregnant teenage daughter, Hala(Claire Danes).

There are certainly enough films like this that focus on relationships, films such as "The Brothers McMullen". But what differs between a film like this and a film like "McMullen" is having characters that generally feel real. "Polish Wedding" doesn't really know what it wants to do with these characters, put them through the realities of relationships and life, or just provide set-up for goofy comedy. There is certainly a lot of material for a great base of a film about the life and experiences of a Polish family, but this film tries too hard for comedic moments that don't always work. The more the film tries for comedy, the less natural the characters and performances feel and frequently, it's a shame because this film had potential.

I certainly enjoyed the performances of Byrne and Olin as a couple who really are only staying married for the reason of loyalty and keeping the family together. Claire Danes is alright in her role, but I didn't feel the character was fully written and although the character is written as a carefree spirit, I didn't accept the character's one-night stand with a local police officer that results in her getting pregnant; the character's dialogue doesn't give you a reason to care and more often, it just makes her character seem careless. I was thankful when elements of drama were added, such as scenes of Danes learning to take care of her child, or Byrne and Olin admitting to themselves that their marriage is no longer working. These scenes work because they feel far more real and much less forced than the comedy the film tries to attain.

This is Theresa Connelly's first time directing and it's certainly not a flawless film. The emotion and tone of what little music there is in the film frequently doesn't match the scene at hand. Scenes seem quite randomly inserted and don't push along what little plot there is. Also, as I mentioned, the film can't decide whether or not to be a comedy or drama and frequently, the jumps between tones seem slightly messy. The director certainly has rounded up talented actors, but a poor script that frequently can't make up its mind as well as some reported problems with the production in terms of budget ruin the otherwise enjoyable aspects. It starts off alright, but towards the end it really just falls apart.

Overall: I'm incredibly suprised by 20th Century Fox for charging $34.98 for a disc of a movie that I'm not sure even was in theaters. There certainly isn't enough here to justify $34.98, and as such, I'm going to have to be tough in the overall grade for this disc. Fox needs to learn to be far more consistent in the quality of their DVDs as well as add something in the way of extras if they're going to ask for $34.98 for their new releases.

The DVD:
IMAGE: The 1.85:1 image is contained on a single layer disc; image quality is generally pleasing for a production that's this small. Images are clear and generally crisp, although some of the scenes seemed to occasionally look a tad soft. Detail is generally good in the picture as well, which is free of artifacts or any other major problems. Colors are occasionally vibrant, but mainly they just look alright; usually natural, simple and realistic. Contrast is generally fair and color saturation is quite decent as well. Skin tones are accurate, but they're not always perfect. Still, this is a little better than I'd expected a film this small to look.

AUDIO: All dialogue and even so, the dialogue tended to sound a little soft in volume to me. There isn't much else to speak of in this sound mix where the music only occasionally makes itself known. The music sounds alright, but there really isn't much of it at all. There isn't any problems such as distortion. Almost completely dialogue.

EXTRAS: The trailer and some slight cast biographies.

MENUS: Pretty menus that are somewhat easy to navigate, but no animation.

GRADES:
Video Quality:B
Audio Quality:C
Extras:D-
Menus:C
The Film:C-
Overall:C-

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