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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.40:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish, English - Hearing Impaired, Hindi
  Extras
  • 5 Deleted scenes - With commentary by director Joe Roth
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus
  • Filmographies

America's Sweethearts

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 99 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Ah, the life of a movie star. And when you’re Hollywood’s hottest couple both on screen and off, things couldn’t be better, right? Well, not if you split up, for as we have all witnessed recently with a certain Nicole and Thomas, the whole world tends to feel they’ve been cheated on in some way.

Eddie Thomas (John Cusack – yum!) and Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are “America’s Sweethearts”. Through such classic films as Autumn With Greg and Peg, Requiem For an Outfielder and Sasha and the Optometrist they won the hearts of the nation. Having gone their separate ways, however, Eddie has “flipped out” and is holed up in a “wellness centre”, while Gwen’s career has seen two major flops since shacking up with a Spaniard named Hector (Hank Azaria on seriously weird drugs).

Dave Kingman is a producer with a dilemma. He has all $86 million of the final Eddie’n’Gwen flick Time Over Time in the can – or supposedly, as the rather wigged out three-times Academy Award winning director, Hal Weidmann (Christopher Walken, looking for all the world like a cross between Renny Harlin and, well, Hell), won’t actually let him see it until the press do also at a forthcoming junket. Dave needs the Eddie’n’Gwen show to be in full swing to ensure the movie’s success, and calls on the one man he thinks can pull it off – publicist Lee (Billy Crystal). The only problem is that he’s just sacked him...

After having his demands met, Lee in turn calls on Gwen’s sister and personal assistant Kiki (Julia Roberts) to assist him with handling the Gwen side of what is an organisational nightmare, while offering a sizeable bribe (with tailfins even) to Eddie’s “wellness guide” in order to secure the release of the somewhat lucrative star from the centre’s clutches. The junket is arranged to take place where Lee and co. can avoid having the press escape their particular clutches – smack bang in the middle of the Nevada desert at a newly built Hyatt.

Still desperate to get back with his rather phenomenally highly strung and demanding ex, Eddie goes spying on her one night at the hotel (between bouts of necking copious amounts of herbal remedies) and spots his angel in white by the pool. He sees this as a sign that they are indeed meant to be together - ah, but was that in fact Gwen, or could somebody else entirely actually be his angel?

Will Eddie and Gwen reunite? Will other relationships blossom? Will Weidmann actually deliver Time Over Time on time? You’ll just have to watch and find out, won’t you?

"Life is so stressful – people have no idea what it’s like being me!"

Written by Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan, the team behind the rather successful Analyse This, America’s Sweethearts looks incredible on paper with its solid comedic pedigree, a stellar cast and an intriguing Hollywood eats itself premise. While most performances are great – Cusack at his laidback best, Roberts actually reasonably laidback for a change, Walken as out-there as ever (and sadly under-utilised) and Zeta-Jones such an utterly painful and annoying cow that you spend most of the film wanting to gouge her eyes out with a suitably blunt object – Billy Crystal doesn’t really get much in the way of an opportunity to go for the jugular in either the way he’s previously proven himself capable of, or indeed that you may expect when he co-wrote the screenplay. The story tends to mosey along in waves – often engrossing, but with many bits that drag in-between, and in all whilst a fairly enjoyable romp with some pleasing laughs, you can’t help but get that feeling that it all should have added up to something infinitely more entertaining.

  Video
Contract

It’s kind of fun when you come across a transfer with heaps of problems, simply as you can wax lyrical about them for hours. In the case of America’s Sweethearts, however, it looks like the Sex Pistols (and indeed Iggy Pop before them) were right – it’s time for “no fun” – as this transfer is, simply put, bordering on magnificent.

Anamorphically enhanced, and shot and brought to DVD in a ratio of 2.40:1 – often using every bit of the frame so as you could only scratch your head in wonderment at how much it will need to be sadistically butchered to please all of those moronic imbeciles out there who freak out at those nasty old “black bars” (oh, you get the top and bottom of the picture cut off, don’t you know? AGH!!!) – umm, where was I? Oh yes – the pretty darned fab transfer. The print itself is basically flawless – completely free of any specks or other imperfections, colour is simply gorgeous – vivid without teetering into over-saturation, rendering everything from colourful party atmospheres to stark Nevada desert-scapes divinely and sumptuously. Black levels are spot-on, shadow detail is also superb – heck, even the layer change is well placed and scarcely noticeable! If not for some rather noticeable edge enhancement at times this would be an absolutely top notch effort.

  Audio
Contract

Befitting a transfer of this calibre is a much more than merely serviceable Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This ain’t no action blockbuster where anything that moves blows up or gets shot down, however there is still quite a bit of opportunity for all the speakers to have somewhat of a workout. There are some delightful directional effects to be heard – door knocks from the left of you, shouting from the right – and a few scenes where the rears get to do their thang with style. The subwoofwoof is called on frequently enough, providing oomph to the odd sound effect, and rounding out some of the soundtrack songs well.

Ah, the songs. Continuing to be nice for a moment, the score by James Newton Howard is very apt, and befits the film well. Unfortunately though, this essentially being a film aimed at 30-somethings and all, that distressingly typical assumption that when any human being turns clocks over the old three-oh they suddenly lose any semblance of musical taste seems to have been employed. So, we’re fed un-digestible tripe ranging from Mark Knopfler, and The Corrs through to Geri Halliwell and, heaven forbid, The Eagles, all keeping company with all manner of other AOR pap chucked in to fill up the soundtrack CD. And to think, the trailer promised us joys like The Jackson Five, U2 and Liverpool’s finest fly-by-nights The La’s! How very disappointing.

  Extras
Contract

America’s Sweethearts doesn’t get to boast about having too many extras. The menus feature a still cast photo with moving searchlights, and a suitably Hollywood-esque musical accompaniment. On venturing within the special features menu we are confronted with...

Deleted scenes: Five snips in all, all of which clock in just above or below one minute or so in length. Available with or without a commentary, which consists of video footage of director Joe Roth introducing each segment, the cuts are all in the correct ratio, but are un-enhanced and feature only Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. They also feature Spanish subtitles, but none in English – odd. As for the scenes, Hector Takes a Bath extends a scene from the film, giving it a turn which would have upped the film’s rating; Eddie Calls His Wellness Guide is cute but ultimately pointless; Leaf Surprises Eddie puts a different spin on Eddie’s (high?) fidelity; Hal Gets Towed is amusing but also not necessary and Danny Schmoozes Hal just didn’t quite fit in the end.

Theatrical trailers: Four in all are included, although there is only one for this actual film. It comes anamorphically enhanced in 1.85:1 and with DD5.1 audio – which is rather impressive for a trailer. It also tends to give away quite a bit more of the plot than some would like, especially considering the film doesn’t have a massively deep well of plot to draw on in the first place. Still, nice music... Additionally there are trailers of varying quality for My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sleepless in Seattle and Stepmom.

Filmographies: Uh-oh – “selected filmographies”. When John Cusack’s does NOT include possibly THE greatest teen flick of all time, Better Off Dead, then no more need be said...

Dolby Digital trailer: The helicopter hooning around between buildings.

  Overall  
Contract

Boasting great video and audio, but only a reasonable array of extras, film-wise America’s Sweethearts really promises more than it actually delivers. It is still quite an enjoyable comedic romance, and certainly has some hilarious moments, however many may find it lacking that certain “grab” factor you would usually expect from a film boasting a cast such as this, for which the blame in the end comes down to the script.

Still, on the bright side, at least with Eddie not being a short arse like some people we could name, Gwen got to wear her high heels when they were together...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1259
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      And I quote...
    "These sweethearts are more Aspartame than real sugar..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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