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    With Honors

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 101 mins . PG . NTSC

      Feature
    Contract

    Montgomery (Brendan Fraser) is just about to graduate, handing in his thesis after four years of work. One fateful night, his computer destroys that work and so, taking the only existing hard copy, he races to the library to copy it. Unfortunately he drops it into the Uni Libraryís basement where a derelict man, Simon Wilder (Joe Pesci) lives. After calling the police to remove him, Monty finds he kept the thesis and he must now bargain with the bum to get it back. One nightís accommodation equals one page of thesis. And so our story is setÖ

    With some genuinely good acting performances from Fraser and his supporting cast, this film is pretty good watching. Pesciís character gets a little irritating in his self-acceptance of bumhood and the mistakes heís made in his life, but apart from that Pesci shows his incredible versatility as an actor.

    The underlying moral of the tale floats to the top regularly, bouncing about on the surface of Wilderís relentless judging of Monty and his values, while in return, Wilderís subtle self-loathing moves throughout changing its colours like oil on the water. What starts out as an apparent comedy about the difference between law students and the real world, actually turns into a moving story of the real world set amidst law students. Wilderís instruction to Monty to see him as a human, albeit a derailed one, originally falls on deaf ears and we witness his moral transformation through his similar straight laced flatmate, who learns little. By the end of the film the two flatmate characters have become very different; both to each other and from themselves. There are lessons here for the average person, but they are originally delivered a little too ham-fistededly and then a little too melodramatically. This amplifies the transition of Montyís character as black to white or vice versa with no greys inbetween, which makes the total moral value of the piece a little too stark to be taken very seriously. The theme of Ďpeople changing your lifeí is left out in favour of Ďideals changing your lifeí so that by the filmís ending, the importance of a particular event doesnít have the same impact it may have, and is even mistreated due to the emphasis within the tale itself.

    All that being said, itís a very watchable and likeable film with its heart in the right place, but its delivery slightly tangled.

      Video
    Contract

    Before I start: NTSC. Do people selling us DVD realise we are a nation of PALs? Sigh.

    This film only came fro review in a 4:3, non-enhanced transfer, but states clearly on the disc: A/Side. Having had a little experience with this, it is my belief that the retail release just may be a "flipper" that will contain the widescreen version as well. Donít quote me, but this has happened to me a couple of times before. Anyhow, this particular transfer has a fair deal of film artefacts running through it, including a big whitey on Brendanís face at 1:05:54. On top of being a fairly grainy version, the lighting is mostly good, but it does leave a good deal of greeny blacks and grey shadows. Some detail is lost in these shadows, which is unfortunate and at 1:21:37 the screen goes a horrible bluish for two short scenes. It is a night scene granted, so Iím not sure if it is intentional, but it is very blue and took me by surprise. Flesh tones are all okay, including day shots in the snow with rosy cheeks and such, but sometimes the film suffers from inconsistancies of colour from scene to scene. Also, during some edited scenes, the shots vary in film quality from relay to relay. One guy talking in a clear, well-lit scene; then cut to guy in poor light with more artefacts and back again. You get the picture.

      Audio
    Contract

    The sound is surprisingly okay, considering some of the film quality. The sound effects are well used and I couldnít catch any stock SFX, which is always a bonus for me. The dialogue is always clear and well-spoken and well-inflected. Being a film containing university students, music naturally plays an important part and the soundtrack in this is quite a worthy one. Artists including The Cult, Belly, Mudhoney, Kristin Hersh, Grant Lee Buffalo and even Duran Duran dot the audio landscape bringing an authenticity into both the setting and the chronology. The music has been well used to effect response or create a mood, while never intruding upon the action either. The engineering of the sound levels has been handled well, with no one feature fighting for supremacy, nor fighting to be heard. All up, a nice sound package, even if it's only Dolby Digital 2.0.

      Extras
    Contract

    Iím afraid this section must flunk or return for summer school, because it gets NO passing grade. It didn't hand in a single assignment all semester, not even a trailer!

      Overall  
    Contract

    This is an enjoyable movie, with an interesting version of college/university life. Whether itís entirely accurate, I canít say, but the performances are certainly believable, as are the settings. Itís been well shot and well mixed and the story is a nice one with something important to say. Perhaps a little confused as to what it is saying on occasion, but with limited subplots it isnít hard to maintain the connection. This is one of those earlier vehicles that proves Brendan Fraser actually has some acting talent, if only he would employ it better in the choices he makes.


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      And I quote...
    "The only dishonors are the shabby treatment of this movie and presenting it in NTSC..."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
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    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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