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  Specs
  • Full Frame
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  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    French, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Featurette
  • Alternate ending

Getting There

Dualstar Entertainment/Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 86 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

“Morality is a hindrance to the development of new and better customs: it makes stupid.” - Nietzsche, Daybreak.

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"Mary-Kate? Is that you? I can't see the road!"

Okay, it’s a fair bet that few (if any) reviews of the ever-growing Mary-Kate and Ashley oeuvre have managed to kick off proceedings with a quote from 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. But hey, there’s a first time for everything. Indeed, the DVD we’re about to dissect is this writer’s first experience of the gargantuan marketing machine that is the Olsen twins. Born into fame via the execrable US sitcom Full House, where they played baby Michelle (not both at the same time, obviously; Michelle had only a single head) the twins went on to win the hearts of America with their perky, toothy and ever-so-charming antics in a range of TV movies and made-for-video quickies. Chances are that most parents would put their child in front of a Mary-Kate & Ashley epic expecting an hour and a half of good wholesome fun for all the family. But is that really the case? Well, we can’t speak for the entire back catalogue, but Getting There - the Olsens’ sweet-16 coming-of-age extravaganza - is very likely the last thing you’d want to let loose on your children. Why? Read on.

The plot (as far as there is one) concerns sisters Kylie (Mary Kate) and Taylor (Ashley) Hunter, who’ve just turned 16. In most parts of the world, that’s a pretty good age to arrive at and much fun is had. But in America, turning 16 means you also get to do something irresistible - you get to drive a car. Kylie and Taylor, being from a normal upper-class family, are promptly given a 16th birthday gift of a red Mustang (thankfully, nobody in this effort makes the 90210 dagginess mistake by calling it a “Stang”). The girls have gone for their licences and, despite doing enough things wrong during the test to warrant complete failure in any sane country, they’ve been granted licences to hurtle down the road in an overpowered vintage car (nobody, by the way, wears a seatbelt for the entire duration of the movie). And so after six months of hurtling and not hitting anything, the Hunter twins and their girlfriends set off on a road trip. The destination: the Winter Olympics in snowy Utah. Tailing along with them in their far less impressive car are three male friends. All of them are loud, dumb, horny and utterly stupid, and one of them is called Toast (for whom we suggest a future road-trip-virginity-losing spin-off, Toast and Crumpet). A series of misadventures follows as the Girlmobile and the DoofusWagon attempt to reach their destination. The Mustang gets stolen, so they go back home and book some plane flights. When that doesn’t work out as planned, the guys, stuck in San Diego through sheer stupidity, hitch a lift with some, ahem, “migrant labour” (more on that shortly). Then it’s on to the bus - at least until an inattentive Greyhound drivers does a bus switcheroo and two of them end up in the middle of nowhere in particular. The others, meanwhile, are in Vegas witnessing a marriage ceremony performed by an Elvis impersonator. And so it goes, ever onwards, as the girls discover things that are “hype” and guys that are “hotties”.

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"You ALWAYS have to wear the same sunglasses as me... that's so NOT hype!"

Theoretically taking a moral high ground and teaching teens about how good it is not to go around getting it on with the opposite sex until you really really love them (which in the case of this film appears to mean forcing them to change to suit your own values), Getting There is, under its happy-go-lucky surface, a vile little creation that’s a virtual dictionary of everything that’s wrong with American mass-market teen culture. In this world, everyone that matters is upper-class - dressed to the hilt in the latest gear, cheerfully spending money like the end of the world’s just around the corner, and looking down on the rabble that are less well off than themselves, poor sods. Both the doofus boys and one of the twins make big complaints about the sheer horror they had to face when they had to do - wait for it - “migrant labour”. This terrible experience - picking strawberries in glorious Californian sun - is so below our heroes that they spit out this phrase as though they’d just been on Fear Factor and been forced to eat a bucket of their own vomit. “I spoke to the girls,” says one of our fruit-picking recruits. “They’re taking a cab home from San Diego!” Doofus #2 responds with scorn, “San Diego? They are so lame!” Doofus #1 sets his companion straight on what’s lamer. “Dude, we’re doing migrant labour in Oxnard!”

Don’t think it’s just the migrant lower classes that cop a beating, either. Because even the white poor people get singled out here, as one of the twins (don’t ask which - these well-to-do folks all look the same) discovers a lonely girl named Charly playing a piano in the midst of remote Baker, a “one horse town without the horse”. We know she’s gotta be poor, ‘cos she’s wearing a bandana. Charly admits to being home-schooled. Our twin is shocked, offering to send “clothes, books, CDs… shoes” to her pathetically not-rich new friend. But soon it turns out that Charly’s dad is loaded, has his own private jet and a mansion built from the profits of his orange groves (!). Suddenly Charly is one of the girls, being dressed from head to toe in Chanel skiwear (“Half the deal with skiing is looking good” is the sage advice here) and eventually deserting her widowed father to do it the Californian way. The dubious implication is that Charly’s a better person for embracing the consumerist lifestyle.

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"Those aren't sunglasses. THESE are sunglasses."

And then there’s the product placement. Now, sure, almost every commercial movie suffers from product placement, but here it’s so blatant that it’s nauseating. When the girls leave for their trip, their mother does a quick check list. “Cell phone?” Check. “AOL Instant Messenger?” The girls hold up small devices of some kind; perhaps they’re calculators that show the current balance of the product placement account (though that one was more likely a freebie for the mother company). The twins wear the world’s most god-awful sunglasses - bloated brown ‘70s things that make pop singer Anastasia’s shades look like John Lennon specs by comparison. They look terrible, and yet for some reason the twins - and only the twins - wear them for much of the length of the movie. The answer comes in the end credits in the “selected wardrobe” section: “sunglasses from C By Karina”. But if you’d been wondering about other must-be-product-placement incidents during the film, your answer comes on the following two end credit screens, which list a remarkable 23 companies who’ve paid up to get their stuff in the movie. Yep, that’s an average of one paid advertisement every three and a half minutes, all endorsed by the stars.

Look, we could go on - but in a way, Getting There (originally titled Road Trip but then hastily renamed at the eleventh hour for obvious reasons!) is just too much of an easy target. Shamelessly commercial, incredibly patronising and occasionally outright bigoted, it’s oddly reminiscent of a propaganda film, designed to indoctrinate an unsuspecting public under the guise of entertainment. We’re sure they’re not that evil, but amongst their many mistakes here, the producers forgot one key thing - never let the audience hear the cash registers ringing.

  Video
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"Scotty, we've successfully conquered the planet. Beam me and my sunglasses up."
Made for video (and presumably eventual television showings), Getting There was shot on 35mm film but designed for a 4:3 frame, with the DVD boom and the looming arrival of digital TV in the US obviously not a factor to the producers. So what we get here is a full-frame 4:3 reproduction of the master tape (the show was edited and post-produced on videotape, something made all too obvious by the el-cheapo titles and video effects). Unlike some recent Olsen Twins DVDs, this one’s in PAL - but is that a good thing? In purely quality terms we’d actually say no, it’s not. The reason? The master used for this PAL version is clearly a conversion from an NTSC original (the running time is a giveaway), and the usual problems that crop up with such conversions are obvious here - just pause the disc and advance frame by frame to see what you’re actually looking at.

That said, the picture’s quite adequate for the material, and the target audience won’t give a toss about image quality anyway. But if you’re that rare 14 year-old who does care, you’ll want to be informed about the occasional hefty bouts of film grain, telecine garbage and the occasional compression problem. To be honest, though, none of that matters much with this material.

  Audio
Contract

The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack is flagged accordingly, but don’t expect much in the way of surround-sound fireworks; this is very much a dialogue-with-occasional-song experience, with the majority of the dialogue looped in post-production (something that’s often glaringly obvious). Heavily dynamically compressed so it’ll sound good on a crappy TV speaker, it’s hardly audiophile material, but serves the production well enough.

The music score is by Steve Porcaro, keyboardist from ‘70s superstar band Toto. His work is overwhelmed by the various pop songs used throughout, with the odd (but tasteful) choice of Waterfall by The Stone Roses used in more than one scene. Almost as if threatened, in a later scene Porcaro’s score starts morphing into his own version of the song. Weird.

The US disc supposedly includes a 5.0 mix of the soundtrack, but here we get French 2.0 instead. And call me crazy, but I’d take an amusingly badly-dubbed Gallic soundtrack over an unneeded five-channel mix any day.

  Extras
Contract

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"I'm not poor. I just have a pillowcase stuck on my head. And no sunglasses."
Not much to see here, folks. For this, your humble reviewer says “phew”.

Amazing Alternate Ending!: Actually shot specially for the disc, this is a quickie joke ending that’ll raise a laugh out of, err, someone who isn’t me.

Behind the Scenes with Mary-Kate and Ashley: You know the drill with these featurettes; a bit of behind the scenes footage, a lot of film clips (oddly cropped to 1.78:1 with white bars) and a ton ’o’ hype.

Interactive Getting There Trivia Quiz: A bunch of multiple-guess questions about the film you just watched, to make sure you were paying attention. Get one right, you get the next question. Get one wrong, you get to do the question again until you get it right. And your reward when you complete the quiz? The main menu! How very hype.

Party Planning Tips For Your 16th Birthday!: Handy (apparently) tips on planning your very own Sweet 16 party. Being 20 years out of the demographic, we couldn’t test these out, but hey, the advice seems solid. “If you can afford a live band, that would be great. Have the band play a mixture of different kinds of songs so that all your guests are happy.” Fair enough. How about party games? “Get a handbook from your local Department of Motor Vehicles and ask your guests questions from it.” Ah, so THAT’s where Eddie Maguire got the idea from…

  Overall  
Contract

What should have been a fun romp for a teen audience starring the undeniably upbeat Mary-Kate and Ashley turns out to be anything but fun, largely thanks to the insipid, often offensive script (by Michael Swerdlick, a TV writer whose 1987 Patrick Dempsey comedy flop Can’t Buy Me Love is already being fed into the Hollywood remake machine for this Christmas). If you happen to be 14 or under and your regular family holiday is spent at a ski resort chalet, you’ll probably eat this one up. Otherwise, let’s leave the last word to our philosopher friend...

“Even great spirits have only their five fingers breadth of experience - just beyond it their thinking ceases and their endless empty space and stupidity begins.”

Got it in one, Friedrich.


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      And I quote...
    "Never let the audience hear the cash registers ringing."
    - Anthony Horan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Panasonic - The One
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB870
    • Speakers:
          Klipsch Tangent 500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Panasonic
    • Surrounds:
          Jamo
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
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