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The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag(1992)
No one ever paid any attention to shy librarian Betty Lou Perkins, until someone found The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag! And when Betty Lou confesses to a crime she didn't commit, her world turns upside down! The bogus confession launches a series of uproariously funny events as a new, sexy Betty Lou captures headlines, rocks out in nightclubs, outwits the mob and wins cheers from the townspeople! Starring a truly exceptional cast including Penelope Ann Miller and Cathy Moriarty - get ready for a fun-filled adventure that's loaded with laughs from beginning to end!
For more about The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag and the The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray release, see the The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 16, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Thal, Alfre Woodard, Julianne Moore, Cathy Moriarty, Andy Romano
Director: Allan Moyle
» See full cast & crew
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray Review
Gunning for a spot in your collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 16, 2012
The old 'gun in the handbag' bit, huh?
Here's a passable but mostly inconsequential little watch-and-forget movie that has its moments of success but never quite settles into a groove. The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, directed by Allan Moyle (who also helmed the underrated Pump Up the Volume), seems to play all over the map. Is it a Comedy? A Character Drama? A Thriller? A Police Procedural? The picture incorporates a little bit of everything outside of Horror and Erotica, it seems. The resultant experience isn't necessarily a bad one, but audiences will be left wondering just how it is a movie can cram so many different themes and styles into one sub-ninety minute experience. The picture is constructed around a decent premise -- figuratively invisible woman takes credit for a grisly murder as a cry for attention and finds herself both physically and emotionally transformed but also in the crosshairs of the mafia -- but the execution leaves a bit to be desired. Had the movie tightened up and focused more on one style it may have played markedly better, but as it is the film is best enjoyed as a time killer and nothing more.
When an assassin makes quick work of a man the mob wants dead, the killer dumps the murder weapon, a Ruger .22 semiautomatic handgun, into the river, presuming it forever lost and himself -- or is it herself -- off scott-free. Little does he or she realize that, somehow, the steel weapon would wash up on shore rather than sink to the bottom. It's recovered by one Betty Lou Perkins (Penelope Ann Miller), a homely librarian who allows herself to be pushed around both at home and on the job. Her husband Alex (Eric Thal), a police force detective, can't even be bothered to give her the time of day, and out of desperation to garner attention -- any sort of attention -- she produces the weapon and claims responsibility for the murder. Alex -- believing her to be the meek little librarian she is and not a cold-blooded killer -- finds himself in the middle of the biggest case of his career, and that it involves his wife makes him all the more on edge. But perhaps this isn't the same Betty Lou he's known and kinda-sorta loved all this time. As she spends time behind bars, she changes. An edgier, sexier Betty Lou emerges and becomes an instant media sensation, much to the chagrin of her low-rent lawyer Ann Orkin (Alfre Woodard). With word of her deeds spreading like wildfire, the mob jumps into action with a plan to silence her and protect its own interests.
Despite a good cast, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag never really gets off the ground. Penelope Ann Miller, Alfre Woodard, Julianne Moore, William Forsythe, and Cathy Moriarty headline, but don't accomplish much given the haphazard script. They portray rather flat characters, with only the lead finding any depth beyond the others' single-dimension construction. Betty Lou becomes a fine character, though she remains rather roughly shaped instead of polished to fictional perfection. Her transformation represents the picture's primary focus. While it never seems forced, it never flows naturally, either. The picture's efforts to redraw a character externally by reshaping her internally provides a somewhat fascinating little angle that's largely lost to an otherwise scattershot structure. It's mostly superficial, represented through wardrobe changes and basic attitude adjustments on the outside, but it never really reaches all that deeply into her mind and soul, concentrating instead on body to get the point across. This makes the movie a fun diversion, but not a deeper character study which might have improved the film by quite a bit.
The picture also falls short because its basic structure negates the "whodunit" angle, yet the movie concentrates on that element for much of its runtime. The mystery identity of the real shooter remains in question, but much of the film revolves around both sides of the law attempting to make Betty Lou the killer even as the audience knows she's innocent. Spending so much time watching the cops and criminals both work out the details of Betty Lou as the murder when the audience knowns she didn't do it seems like a waste of film resources. At best, such should be given cursory attention, not what amounts to an act or so of the entire picture. Also quite damning is that the movie never features enough laughs to work as a Comedy, not enough suspense to play as a legitimate Thriller, and not even enough character study to be considered such a picture. The movie plays all dizzy-like, almost as if it just went a few rounds playing that game that challenges players to place their head on a baseball bat and spin around. It has a purpose and an idea of what it wants to do, but it's not quite levelheaded nor sufficiently coherent to get there easily and efficiently, instead stumbling about in the general direction of where it wants to go.
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag arrives on Blu-ray with a poor 1080p transfer. The image opens with an incredible amount of dirt and debris, calms down a little during the opening credits, and settles to acceptable levels during the bulk of the movie, but expect to see wear and tear throughout. The image does retain a moderate grain structure, but details prove soft and flat. Faces appear particularly pasty and come with almost no appreciable definition. Background details, clothes, and the like fall completely flat, and the image fares little, if any, better than an old upscaled DVD might. Colors are drab and lifeless, with only the brightest daytime scenes -- notably during a media frenzy montage -- appearing anywhere close to vibrant. Shadow detail is rather poor, skin tones favor an unnaturally reddish appearance, and blocky backgrounds are often evident. This transfer fails to impress. It's serviceable at its best, nearly unwatchable at its worst.
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag features a flat and lifeless DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. There's little clarity and only adequate range and spacing. The low end proves rattly and sloppy. Gunshots as heard at the end of the film don't lack power, but they certainly don't approach authenticity. The track features almost no atmospherics save for cursory environment-defining elements. Music plays shyly, with only a brief rendition of "Turning Japanese" pumping out of the speakers with any real perceptible energy, volume, or spacing. Dialogue flows cleanly and naturally through the middle part of the soundstage, never coming across as unbalanced. The spoken word easily represents this track's best asset. This track is pretty much par for the course for these bargain Mill Creek catalogue releases.
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Betty Lou's handbag might very well have a gun, but there are definitely no supplements in that sucker.
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
To call The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag a "poor" film might be a stretch, but certainly this is a fairly inconsequential, forgettable little picture that has a general idea of what it is it wants to be and the story it wishes to tell, but it accomplishes its tasks as if rather confused about the best way to do so. The result is a movie that's sort of like a celluloid "Jack of all trades," a movie that does a little bit of everything adequately but does nothing very well. The performances are a little flat, disappointing given the all-star cast, but in their defense the script gives them very little with which to work. This is a decent time killer, but audiences in search of something with more substance should keep on looking. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag features poor video and mediocre audio. No extras are included. Skip it.
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The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag 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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