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In this post-coming-of-age comedy, a piano player at a crossroads in his life returns home to his friends and their own problems with life and love. The high school reunion in a small Massachusetts town gives the group of buddies plenty of opportunities to try and sort out their views about women. From the former stud-turned-snowplow operator to the aspiring nightclub musician who escaped to New York, these clueless cads can only hope for some female guidance.
For more about Beautiful Girls and the Beautiful Girls Blu-ray release, see Beautiful Girls Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 22, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Ted Demme
Writer: Scott Rosenberg
Starring: Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, Annabeth Gish, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell
» See full cast & crew
Beautiful Girls Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 22, 2011
Winner of CEC Award for Best Screenplay at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, Ted Demme's "Beautiful Girls" (1996) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The only supplemental feature on the disc is the film's original theatrical trailer. In English, with optional English SDH and German subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls is actually about a group of guys in their early thirties. Their lives have not exactly turned out the way they imagined they would, which is why they are all a little frustrated. One is married with children, one is dating two women, one is just single, one is obsessed with porn stars, and one is a piano player in a serious relationship with a beautiful lawyer from New York. All of the guys but the pianist live in Knight's Ridge, Massachusetts.
The film opens up with Willie (Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People, Secret Window), the pianist, heading back home for a high school reunion. Upon arrival he is unenthusiastically greeted by his father (Richard Bright) and younger brother (David Arquette, Scream) and then enthusiastically welcomed by his old friends.
The guys Willie left behind after he moved to New York have not changed. Tommy (Matt Dillon, Wild Things, Crash) is still single and officially dating Sharon (Mira Sorvino, Mimic, The Replacement Killers). He has also unofficially started dating Darian (Lauren Holly, What Women Want, Changing Hearts), who has grown tired of being a good mother and wife. The whole town knows about their affair, including Sharon, who has slowly started to realize that Tommy may not be the man she has been hoping to marry.
Paul (Michael Rapaport, Kiss of Death, Higher Learning) is no longer with Jan (Martha Plimpton, I Shot Andy Warhol), a girl he genuinely loves, because she has officially started dating the town's meat cutter. He isn't happy but there is nothing he could do about it, which is why he routinely plows snow in front of her garage. Though he does not want to admit it, he has also developed an obsession with supermodels, and especially those who tend to appear in X-rated magazines.
Kev (Max Perlich, Drugstore Cowboy) isn't dating anyone because there is no one that wants to date him. This is why he spends most of his time following Tommy.
Mo (Noah Emmerich, The Truman Show, Pride and Glory) is the only guy who has a family. He loves his wife and kids but has started realizing that being a husband and father is a much more complicated business than he had previously thought. This is why he often thinks about the good old days.
Willie's relationship with Tracy (Annabeth Gish, SLC Punk) has reached a point where they either have to take it to the next level – meaning marriage – or part ways. He is in love with her but is unsure if he is ready to have a family. She definitely is, which is why Willie's life has suddenly become very complicated.
During the days and nights leading to the high school reunion party, each of the guys is faced with unique dilemmas and eventually forced to make important decisions.
Demme's film is a true rollercoaster of emotions. Parts of it are absolutely hilarious and then other parts are incredibly depressing. One could argue that it is an honest film. But then one could also successfully argue that it is an incomplete film – because with the exception of the 13-year old girl (played beautifully by Nathalie Portman) that turns Willie's world upside down none of the women in the film have believable personalities. They clearly suffer as much as the guys do, but their stories are never heard (the small feminist lecture Rosie O'Donnell's character delivers and the short confession Uma Thurman's character offers do not count).
As incomplete as the film might be it is still a lot better than the overwhelming majority of romantic dramedies Hollywood has been mass producing in recent years. The guys and their little town feel real, their small triumphs and big failures feel real. Like most truly clueless guys their age, they don't try to change the world they live in because they don't know how and because it is absolutely pointless. They simply try to fit in, and bump into their other half.
Adam Kimmel's lensing is simple but elegant. The beautiful shots with the covered with snow streets can easily convince one that the film was shot on the East Coast, even though it was actually shot on location in Minnesota. However, Scott Rosenberg's script only occasionally matches the brilliance of the one he wrote for Gary Fleder's Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead.
Beautiful Girls Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment/Miramax.
Anyone hoping for a brand new high-definition transfer will likely be disappointed by the presentation. This is not to say that the presentation is disappointingly poor; rather that it could have been a lot better. Generally speaking, detail is rather pleasing, but there are traces of various denoising corrections that occasionally affect clarity. Traces of light edge-enhancement are also easy to spot, especially during some of the daylight scenes (see screencapture #6). The nighttime footage, however, looks good. Color reproduction is pleasing, but it also could have been a lot more convincing. The reds, browns, and especially the whites could have been a lot better saturated. Lastly, there are no serious compression or stability issues to report in this review. All in all, considering the fact that the old R1 DVD release of Beautiful Girl was non-anamorphic the Blu-ray release is certainly worth picking up, but a new high-definition transfer would have made it even easier to recommend. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Beautiful Girls Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and German LPCM 2.0. For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English SDH and German subtitles for the main feature.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track opens up the film quite well. The surround channels are intelligently used and even the bass impresses during a couple of scenes (check out the plowing scenes). The good selection of classic rock tunes heard throughout the film also get decent boost. The dialog is clean, crisp, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. For the record, there are no sync issue or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Beautiful Girls Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Beautiful Girls Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls is a charming and unpretentious dramedy that looks and feels fresher than many of the similarly themed films Hollywood has mass produced in recent years. The film's presentation isn't flawless, but the Blu-ray is definitely worth picking up. If you reside in a Region-A country, please keep in mind that the Blu-ray is Region-B "locked". RECOMMENDED.
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Beautiful Girls Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Beautiful Girls Blu-ray - September 1, 2011
British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment have revealed that they will release on Blu-ray Ted Demme's romantic comedy Beautiful Girls, starring Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman, Matt Dillon, Natalie Portman, Timothy Hutton, and Michael Rapaport. In 1996, the film ...
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