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Matthew Modine stars as Joe Slovak, a brilliant first-year med student whose casual, nonconforming approach to life gets tested when he enrolls in Gross Anatomy, the toughest course in med school. Joe's freewheeling, independent style creates funny moments in the classroom, but puts him at odds with his demanding professor (Christine Lahti), who questions whether her class "rebel" has what it takes to be a doctor. On top of that, Joe falls in love with his no-nonsense lab partner (Daphne Zuniga),who won't let anything, especially romance, interfere with her plans. And while Joe's never done anything by the book, he proves he does have what it takes to succeed - without changing his ways!
For more about Gross Anatomy and the Gross Anatomy Blu-ray release, see Gross Anatomy Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 5, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Matthew Modine, Daphne Zuniga, Christine Lahti, Todd Field, John Scott Clough, Alice Carter
Director: Thom E. Eberhardt
» See full cast & crew
Gross Anatomy Blu-ray Review
This Medical School Drama won't cut too deeply into your Blu-ray budget.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 5, 2011
Why do you want to be a doctor?
For five first-year medical students, it will take a study of the dead to learn more about the living. They will come through their countless hours of grueling study for the better, not only as more knowledgeable students better prepared for their careers, but as more knowledgeable individuals better prepared for their lives. The movie is Gross Anatomy, a wonderful little picture about hard work, dedication, love, and life, a picture that uses the backdrop of the rigors of medical school to tell a story about the challenges of life, the rewards of self-discovery, and the importance of friendship. With these attributes in mind and positioned against one of the most demanding endeavors a human being may undergo outside of Navy SEAL training, Director Thom Eberhardt (Captain Ron) has crafted an affable yet meaningful Drama -- with a sprinkling of humor added for good measure -- that's one of the finest of the under-appreciated pictures of the late 1980s, a movie that's well-crafted and infinitely watchable, but also a capable movie that paints a believable picture of the interconnectedness and evolving nature human interaction, outward appearance, and inner realizations under the pressures of great stress, in a less-than-hospitable atmosphere, and through the prism of the promise of great personal reward.
Joe Slovak (Matthew Modine) has just been accepted into medical school. Outwardly, he looks the part, but he doesn't exactly act the part. He's always late and exudes a carefree attitude that clashes with the unreasonable demands of not only attending medical school, but making the grade. He's roomed with his polar opposite, David Schreiner (Todd Field), an obsessive-compulsive who structures his day to the minute, clashing with Joe's off-the-cuff style. The sly Joe finds himself attracted to classmate Laurie Rorbach (Daphne Zuniga), a beautiful and brilliant student whose mother is a surgeon. Joe manages to weasel David and himself into her group in gross anatomy class, partnering also with the image- and grade-obsessed Miles Reed (John Scott Clough) and married mother of one Kim McCauley (Alice Carter). Joe's undisciplined ways catch the attention of Dr. Rachel Woodruff (Christine Lahti), who at first dismisses him as a go-nowhere flunker-in-waiting, but as Joe shows promise, she makes it her mission to mold him into the best medical student she's ever had. Can the group survive the demands of medical school, and can their relationships blossom under the stresses of gross anatomy?
Gross Anatomy plays out as something of a tale of two interconnecting stories, one that examines the difficulties of being and the realities for a first-year medical student, the other one of burgeoning love, respect, and understanding between a group of students with differing backgrounds, differing goals, and differing approaches to success. Both are equally adept in stirring heavy emotions and creating a sense of wonder both through the authentic feel of the medical classroom environment and through the crafting of several fine characters. Both stories are more than capable of carrying a movie, but put them together as dual foundations for what amounts to casual cinematic endeavors -- but casual cinematic endeavors done extremely well -- and the end result is a superior movie about the rewards of life as discovered through facing and surviving its greatest challenges. As to the former, the movie does a superb job of putting the viewer into the chaotic setting of gross human anatomy, of demonstrating the demands of medical school and making the viewer feel the same stress and carry the same burdens expected of each and every student. Reading assignments, pop quizzes, challenging Latin terminology, and impossible deadlines all become realities for both the characters and the audience. Here, medical school isn't just a backdrop for a story, it becomes an integral part of the plot and one of the more absorbing settings ever captured so intensely on film.
But there wouldn't be a movie without a deeper human element, an understating of the kinds of things that happen to people under such tremendous stress, things that happen primarily as a result of how they choose to carry the burdens of their schooling which weigh them down. The picture examines both extremes, the carefree, casual approach and the approach that posits that hoarding information, rather than absorbing information and making it part of one's very essence, is the key to success. Of course, both extremes are carried out by individuals who are in the same anatomy group and who live in the same dorm room. They will learn -- one way or another -- that both approaches are terribly flawed and that neither lead to real success either in medical school or as skills suitable for the outside world. These and the other primary characters, all of whom in some way carry their own loads but who feel the stresses of their classmates, are very well developed. There's a connectivity to all of the little plot lines and character arcs that all come together in the end, that shed light on why the medical profession is worth the struggle and that put into perspective the grueling schedule and astronomical expectations that each student must endure, all the while shaping the burgeoning relationships between the characters and furthering their understanding of who they really are. The film's character highlight comes not from the developing romance between Laurie and Joe but rather the evolving, dynamic relationship between Joe and Dr. Woodruff. Woodruff sees in Joe great potential or great failure, and her means of crafting Joe into a superior student from something of a misshapen mold is both daring and smart. Their relationship -- and the things Joe learns from it -- cross that magical barrier from plot element to real life lesson. Gross Anatomy oozes value which comes in the form of lessons for success in any area of life, which is what makes the movie so timeless and worthwhile.
Gross Anatomy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Gross Anatomy features a lower-rung 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. This isn't the worst catalogue release of all time, but it's far from the best, and the movie deserves better. It's littered with spots, speckles, scratches, and hairs, appearing not to a debilitating level but nevertheless remaining a constant throughout. The image fails to yield detailing that's better than merely "adequate." Facial and clothing textures are fair, ditto building fašades, but the carved-up medical school cadavers often reveal some sharp and interesting lines. Colors are bright, but not vibrant. Black levels are fair and flesh tones are neutral, the latter only occasionally yielding a hint of unnatural warmth. Grain fluctuates, appearing heavy at times and almost disappearing at others. Banding, blocking, and other eyesores are largely absent. The image looks all right, but it also looks rather worn down. It's pretty obvious that this one could use some housekeeping, but it's hard to complain given that the movie costs little more to buy than it does to rent.
Gross Anatomy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Gross Anatomy enrolls onto Blu-ray and brings with it a paltry but serviceable DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. The good news is that this is a dialogue-heavy movie that doesn't scream for a fuller 5.1 sound presentation, though the added channels could really solidify a few of the more audio intensive segments. Music spreads nicely enough across the front and plays with suitable clarity. The track yields a good bit of natural ambience, whether the campus chimes, chatter amongst students in the classroom, music and laughter in busy dorms, and the general din of a mass of humanity pushing and shoving to get a look at a posted grade sheet. Dialogue is firm and steady, remaining in the center channel and never struggling to be heard over any surrounding music or sound effects. This is a basic, no-frills sort of listen; clarity and spacing could be improved, but again it's adequate considering that Mill Creek is charging a price that reflects the amount of effort that went into the production of this Blu-ray disc.
Gross Anatomy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This film may not be further dissected; Gross Anatomy's Blu-ray release contains no supplements.
Gross Anatomy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Gross Anatomy is a fine little movie that not only absorbs its audience into the life of the medical school student, but into life on an even more important level where relationships are formed, realities are unearthed, and futures take shape. It's a movie with many interconnecting pieces that come together harmoniously and paint a larger picture of what it means to persist, to dedicate oneself to a task, to find the strength to overcome adversity, all the while coming to a realization that life isn't about facts and figures but rather how people use that knowledge for something good, for something even bigger than themselves. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Gross Anatomy features mediocre video and audio and no extras, but this release still comes recommended on the strength of the film and the appeal of the low asking price.
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Gross Anatomy Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Wave from Mill Creek in May - March 25, 2011
On May 10, Mill Creek Entertainment will release 11 movies on Blu-ray: Betsy's Wedding, Big Business, Consenting Adults, Gross Anatomy, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, An Innocent Man, The Marrying Man, Money For Nothing, My Father the Hero, Straight Talk, and ...
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