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  • Pan&Scan
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
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    Made in America

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 110 mins . M15+ . PAL


    So let’s see what we have here... Whoopi Goldberg – big tick. Nia Long – big tick. Jennifer Tilly – big tick. Oh but wait, it also has Ted Danson – minus one tick. And NTSC – minus another. And pan and scan – hmm, that’s it – we’re out of ticks now. But thankfully we still have these three women in the picture.

    Whoopi Goldberg has a certain electricity that she brings to the screen with her pictures, something that characteristically screams “Whoopi”. And this is what rocks about her – that she is able to provide so much enthusiasm, attitude and lip to any role that it makes her an absolute pleasure to watch. C’mon, it’s funny! So let’s see, she’s been stuck in a phone booth (among other places) in Jumpin’ Jack Flash, a nun in the Sister Act movies, a hyena in Disney’s The Lion King, a basketball coach in Eddie not to mention a nurse at Claymore in Girl, Interrupted and a fruit loop in Rat Race. But just look at her – she plays all of these so well!

    But then with the good comes the bad, and in this case that would be from the male lead Ted Danson, who just really gets up this reviewer’s clacker (Smartypants editor's note: But he was dating Whoopi at the time this flick was made, hence his presence...). Not a single picture springs to mind where this actor was actually appreciated or added anything remotely interesting, memorable or witty to the film. Just look at Getting Even With Dad - Macaulay Culkin is good enough reason not to watch that one, period. Danson’s only watchable (and this is still to a limited extent) flick is Three Men and a Baby, but that is largely due to Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg’s performances (if they can be called that). OK, OK, withdrawing the claws...

    Nia Long (The Broken Hearts Club), Will Smith (Men In Black) and Jennifer Tilly (Monsters, Inc.) stud the backup cast listing and give so much more to the piece, with believable, sincere and obscure characters. The humour used in director Benjamin’s film is typical for both Goldberg and Danson, providing a comfortable type cast for these actors to fall in to. At times the story blows out of perspective or just flounders around somewhere, but in the end does make a point, even if it is terribly contrived and Hollywoodised.

    So, the fun starts when we meet Zora Mathews (Long) who has a freaky panic attack during a science class when, during a blood test (as if they could do that safely in today’s age...), she discovers that she has a father who she did not know about. So she confronts her bookshop-keeping mother Sarah (Goldberg), who admits that she bought a “black man’s” sperm from a sperm bank. And so Zora is off, and eventually (the film captures these details so you can find ‘em for yourself) finds her father, Hal (Danson), a womanising tacky car salesman, who is instantly put into her bad books when he tries to pick her up, among other things. But there is a slight problem – he’s a white man...


    OK, so what’s worse than an NTSC Region 4 transfer? A pan and scan NTSC Region 4 transfer. And for a fine example, check out Made in America, not only boasting one Region 4 dislike, but two. Shown in theatres back in 1993 in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, Made In America is presented here in a full frame aspect of 1.33:1, and is therefore not anamorphically enhanced. The framing of some scenes is just so awful due to the loss of the sides, but hell, what can you do apart from cringe? Colours are healthily saturated, but look terribly NTSC-ish, with edges lacking in clarity and sharpness. Blacks, however, are solid enough, and provide murky yet defined shadows to the image. Aliasing rips up the image fairly often on anything that is meant to even resemble an angled straight line. At times this subtly passes by, but at others is so painfully obvious that it is just blatantly distracting. Film grain and artefacts are generally not a problem, with only very light grain being noticed during specific scenes, and an odd speck whizzing past here and there. So give us widescreen PAL transfer and Hal’s your uncle. Well Whoopi’s your aunt at least. Well, nearly.


    A solo English Dolby Digital surround-encoded soundtrack has been thrown in and is suitable, but nothing fantastic. Dialogue is in perfect synch, and is clearly propelled into the matrixed soundstage. Bass levels are just right for carrying the early '90s pop score that is fitting for the tone and era of the film. The surround channel carries a little bit of the soundtrack, providing an echo and ambient feel, but isn’t anything stunning. Likewise, the subwoofer leeches off of the lower end of the other channels to provide depth and bass to the soundtrack, giving it a solid resting point. Apart from the odd effect and the music, the surround and woofwoof remain in hibernation, just waiting to pounce into action.


    Someone’s been shooting blanks again...


    It’s easy to see that this transfer was Made in America with its 'lovely' pan and scanned NTSC transfer which is just mediocre in quality, plus there's not an extra in sight. And this reviewer thought all the crappy plastic pieces were “Made in China” and placed in cheap Happy Meals, not Made in America with a hefty price tag and NTSC sticker attached.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2656
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      And I quote...
    "Whoopie, it’s Whoopi on DVD, but oh no, it’s pan and scan and even worse, it’s NTSC. OK, now sarcastically, whoopie..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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