Warner Bros./Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 99 mins .
PG . PAL
Never being a fan of Billy Crystal, this film was approached with mixed feelings. Well, I have to admit that when he fell off the Titanic in one of the Academy Award montages a few years ago, that was quite funny. But anyway, the tables did turn in 2001 when Monsters, Inc. was released, but now with that undeniably Billy Crystal voice comes an image of a one-eyed green ball.
And the Oscar goes to...
My Giant was quite surprising with its combination of quality laughs as well as a sincere and deep enough heart. What starts out as a dryly comic narrative piece takes an unexpected turn towards the end where the film grows a sense of reason, applying a fable-like quality to the tale. Billy Crystal and real-life giant Gheorghe Muresan work superbly together on screen, guided by Crystal’s “nice guy” appearance. This is the sort of film that does give you a bit of a giggle, as well as teaching you about the immense importance of friendship – and the lengths that a man can go to.
Crystal stars as Sam Kamin, a talent agent who is in Romania to check up on his biggest client as he embarks on a huge Hollywood film. Ah, the dumping scene – the biggest client has gone to a bigger company, leaving Kamin really down and out on his luck. To make matters worse, his car leaves the road and lands in a river, and is miraculously saved by the giant, warm hands of God. Well, as it turns out, these hands belong to Max (Muresan), a lonely giant who has been living with monks since his parents abandoned him when he was 15. We soon find out that Max still has feelings for a girl named Lilliana who moved to the United States 22 years ago. Now Kamin knows how he can get Max to the US – make him a movie star. So after a bit of persuasion, a few favours and a bit of alcohol, Max is the giant and feared bad guy in this movie being shot in Romania. In return for playing the part, they get airfares to the United States to help Max find his sweetheart, and help Sam find his wife and son who have left both him and New York and moved to Chicago. This film is just some good ol’ fashioned fun, with a twist of reason and sensibility – it’s not as deep as the ocean, but deep enough to make you care.
What's the big deal? My head is normally this high anyway.
Presented in an anamorphically-enhanced widescreen aspect of 1.78:1, My Giant looks superb on screen – a fine example of one of Warner’s budget titles with a PAL transfer. Colours are nicely saturated, yet the palette tends to look a little dry, lacking the depth of some of the more vivid transfers. Shadow details are quite well defined, but at times, especially in the brighter outdoor scenes, the contrast is just a little too stark. One point to make with regards to the video is that it looks older than it really is. The titles on screen look quite soft, and the quality of the video gives it a feel older than 1998. But still, it does look mighty impressive.
It is nice, however, to see a clean image free from major film artefacts and film grain, with hardly any compression-related artefacts. These annoying nigglies are few and far between, giving a fantastic transfer to watch. A hint of edge enhancement can be seen here and there, but generally isn’t a major distraction. The sampled English subtitles are incredibly accurate, with only one or two minor and unimportant words being dropped for speed. They appear in a clear typeface that doesn’t rule the picture.
Wow! Now that's tall!
A single Dolby Digital 5.1 track presented in English is available, and is quite nice. It’s not the finest example of a 5.1 mix, but it does its job. Dialogue comes clearly from the centre channel, with no distortion or synch issues. Effects sound monaural from the front left and right channels, and sadly with barely any use of the surrounds and woofer. Moments do occur where effects and ambience could be used in these speakers discretely, but its hard to complain when we get a fairly decent mix – it’s good, but not great.
For a 1998 film, it is odd to have a total lack of features – biographies could have been included as an absolute minimum. But oh well, the 16:9 menus look pretty cool as far as silent, static menus go.
This is a heart-warming film with good values, a few good laughs, but a bit of a schmaltzy ending. Warner Bros.' PAL transfer is quite nice, with a clean video presentation and a succinct audio track. Fans of Billy Crystal will enjoy this tall tale, and if you’re walking past a budget bin, it may be worthy of a purchase.