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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer - Kandahar, Monsoon Wedding, The Closet
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus

Beautiful

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Oh my god, sweetie darling, pet, this film falls into one category - "chick flick". Scholarship Programs, Miss America Miss, Beauty, Fashion, Flaming Baton Twirling... that sounds like Miss Congeniality revisited. OK, it may not have Marc Laurence's satirically witty script or that chick Sandra Bullock's evilly masculine character, but it has a stupidly humorous script, some outrageously bizarre events and a beautiful bimbo (not blonde for once) lead with a low-profile, yet talented, backup ensemble including Joey Lauren Adams (the chick from alternative (nay queer) flick Chasing Amy) as her best friend slash alternative parent (see the movie to understand that bit), Kathleen Turner (c'mon, everyone knows Kathleen Turner!) as the courageously bold pageant queen trainer and also the chick from Billy Madison (you know, the teacher one Billy falls for, Bridget Wilson) as a competitor in the Miss American Miss pageant who has an Abe-sounding (you know, Abe's Odyssey, the game?) ventriloquist doll. Now don't forget the little kid, most comedy films need to have an annoying kid. And oh my god, introducing Hallie Kate Eisenberg, the kid from hell! And boy she really tests the frequencies of your ears! Mind you, she is superb at playing the little brat.

One thing with films is that you generally can't compare them to any other film. No film is the same, they may have similar themes or ideas, but it would be wrong to say “Miss Congeniality is better or worse” because they have a different story. They may have similar ideas, but they are not the same. So, Beautiful's PG rating may need to be boosted up to M, due to some mature adult themes and coarse language. The next time your daughter wants to have a sleep over with her friends, this may be a perfect title to grab. Miss Congeniality may have the blockbuster status with special effects, a great cast and bitingly funny script, but Beautiful has a fresh cast with a charmingly funny yet touching script. As a comedy film, it succeeds for the basic black humour of stupidness, and for a drama it reaches the point of a relationship story. But oh my god, sweetie, if you, like, want a night's entertainment with, like, some mindless humour and a, like, touching story, grab this title, or whatever.

Directed by actor Sally Field and featuring a solid cast, the real chick in all the cast is unleashed through the female direction. Original thoughts (and groans) of Sally Field directing are thrown out the window with an excellent introduction and catching story line. The film does suffer from a slightly made-for-television look, but what is more special lies deeper than the skin.

The story starts off in 1986 with a young Mona Hibbard. Her mother is always aggravated and has a headache, and is sick of driving her daughter around. Mona wants to be the next Miss American Miss. In a pageant, she won a participation medallion, and that was it. Her best friend Ruby, with the help of her grandmother, turned Mona from a hooker-look-a-like (sorry, it was the Eighties) to an aged-12-to-14-beauty-pageant winner. We then flash forward to Mona Hibbard (an adorable Minnie Driver) now, a 26-year-old state pageant winner. The new Miss Illinois is off to the Miss America Miss pageant in Long Beach, California. But, through a disaster at Ruby's work, Ruby is off to prison, and her daughter is without a mother. With Mona off to California, and Ruby in prison, Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) has no one to stay with. While sorting out her own family problems with her still headachy mother, Mona is forced to take Vanessa with her to California. But oh no, sweetie, scandal rises when a rude and arrogant news reporter comes up with a story about why Vanessa looks so much like Mona... hmmm where does this lead? It leads to both Mona and Vanessa finding something much more than the truth, something that is so much more beautiful.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

The transfer is very good overall, especially given the small release. The first half of the opening credits features old footage, which suffers from some slight grain and film artefacts, but this is not distracting as it adds atmosphere to the footage. The remainder of the film is remarkably clean from film artefacts. However, the same cannot be said for grain. There is a very slight grain over the whole image for the majority of the film, yet it isn't irritating. There are no visible MPEG artefacts during the feature. The picture is sharp throughout the film with a clear, crisp picture.

Being a film about beauty pageants, fashion, makeup and (for part of it anyway) the Eighties, the colours are bright, vibrant, rich and stunning. The green grass looks full-of-life and stunningly green, with a warm orange sunset lighting up the stark buildings with a rich golden tone. In other words, or in English, the colours look great! The reds are bold and bright with no sign of bleeding, and the shiny blues are deep and energetic. The blacks are bold on the backgrounds, yet shadow detail is slightly lacking. The definition of the shadows isn't terribly clear, but is adequate for the few dimly lit scenes that are in the film.

Being a single sided, single layered disc, there is no layer change.

There is one subtitle track available on this disc, and that is English for the hearing impaired. They are very faithful to the dialogue, and are clear and easy to read.

  Audio
Contract

There is only one audio track on this disc, a Dolby Digital 2.0 English track, which is not surround encoded. This audio track is suitable for the genre of the film, and it doesn't need the discreet subwoofer for the earth-shattering explosions, oh that's right, they're in another film, silly me.

The stereo track offers limited direction from the front channels, yet offers a rich bassy sound. But would someone dampen that little girl down! Wow, she is so close to shattering a window with that voice! The voices are clear throughout (with the exception of that girl) and the dialogue is easy to understand. Coarse language is fairly tame, given the PG rating; but parents may want to be aware of the low level of coarse language including the eff word.

The score by John Frizzel is suitable to the tone and mood of the film, and is harmoniously touching. There are no problems with audio synchronisation, or distortion of any sort.

  Extras
Contract

The menu is presented in the widescreen aspect of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The introduction to the menu is briefly animated with a looping piece of music from the film. The menus are clear and easy to navigate, yet are lacking in animation.

The Scene Selection page is simply a text list of the scenes that you pick from. There are no thumbnail images or animations, just the chapter titles.

The other features consist of rather stock-standard extras including a trailer which runs for 2:19, cast and crew profiles and Madman Propaganda.

The trailer is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It does a remarkable job of telling the story, and has a transfer similar to the film in quality.

The cast and crew profiles are of Minnie Driver, Kathleen Turner and Sally Field. They feature numerous pages for each member, with three for Driver and four each for Turner and Field. They are stock-standard profiles and nothing overly exciting.

Madman Propaganda is a great feature on Madman discs. They are not previews you have to watch like Fox, but previews you can watch if you want. The three previews on this disc are Kandahar (1:23), Monsoon Wedding (2:13) and The Closet (1:17). They are presented in various aspects and feature high quality transfers for both audio and video.

  Overall  
Contract

This underrated and touching film should be seen by all in need of a chuckle. Madman Entertainment are starting to become the leader in independent Australian DVD manufacturing with excellent work on other titles such as Innocence, The Monkey's Mask and The Bank. The video transfer is bright and brilliant, and the audio transfer is suitable yet lacking due to the absence of a surround-encoded track. The extras are not very thrilling, but adequate for a low-budget film. Simply grab this title!


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      And I quote...
    "Oh my god, sweetie darling, pet, this film falls into one category - "chick flick"..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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