Warner Bros./Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 90 mins .
PG . PAL
What is it with Smalltown USA and its propensity to inspire all manner of offbeat, quirky little dramedies? Coming across in many ways like a veggie-Fargo - lots of ingredients including dark comedy, drama and downright left-of-centre stuff, but ultimately not as beefy as something more Whopperous like the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece - Home Fries continues this fine tradition of US cinema.
D'ya want responsibility for your actions with that?
Drew Barrymore is Sally Jackson, ever-so-perky wearer of a headset at the drive-thru of the local Burger-Matic. We soon learn she’s been having an affair with an older, married man (a cigarette factory worker – ooh, now there’s a catch!), and that her state of being somewhat eight-months pregnant has quite a bit to do with him.
But then along comes a helicopter. Combine being run off the road by a monstrous war machine and a heart condition and, well, things don’t look too good for our sleazy daddy–to-be. One coronary later and it seems once Sally’s bump becomes a living breathing wee bairn, he or she is gonna be just plain doggone daddy-less.
But then there are the helicopter pilots, two brothers - Dorian (Luke Wilson) and Angus (Jake Busey) - on a mission for their high-strung, manipulative and quite pathetic mother. It seems their daddy had done gone and cheated on their Mom, so retribution was in order (by now I think most will have twigged as to where this one’s a goin’). Intent on keeping any loose ends from their sortie tied together, and there being this little thing of the Burger-Matic headsets being somehow set to the same frequency as that of their chopper during their tour of dutifulness, Dorian infiltrates the fast food joint, but kinda sorta falls for a certain curly-haired redhead with a sizeable bun in the oven…
Originally a film school project for writer Vince Gilligan (more renowned for his work on The X-Files), while Home Fries would never win any awards for startling originality, it still has much to offer as a quirky little down-home tale of love, people done wrong, insanity, revenge and fast food. Drew is at her cute-as-a-button, wholesome best, playing things remarkably and suitably straight in a role which others may have injected more unwelcome ham into. Wilson does the chisel-jawed hero thing well, Catherine O’Hara is almost downright scary in her borderline nutball portrayal and Jake Busey, well, he does that toothy-grinned, psychotic fruit loop Aryan thing as well as he always does – isn’t typecasting a grand ol’ thing?
The words “budget” and “release’ when combined often give cause for concern, and more often than not it’s justified. Another in a new batch of virtual pocket-money priced discs from Warner, Home Fries, however, bucks this trend and gives us a transfer much purdier than many releases boasting much more shekel-heavy pricing.
Delivered close to its original aspect of 1.85:1 in widescreen-telly friendly 1.78:1, this anamorphic transfer has little of note to complain about. Save for a rare speckle here and there everything else we usually blather on about is perfectly serviceable, often bordering on excellent. Colour is nicely saturated, detail is never compromised and even shadowy dark scenes offer up an appropriate amount of their own detail. Basically, anybody disappointed with what’s on offer here visually needs to reappraise their expectations.
Of 1997 vintage, Home Fries comes to us with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix which, when called upon, delivers some quite natty sonic oomphiness. Helicopters tend to make for fun sound, and they certainly do here, as the subwoofwoof shakes the room and the surrounds engulf us in chop-chop-choppiness. The bulk of the film, however, relies on more dialogue-heavy moments, and whilst not as aurally frisky, these are all delivered clearly and cleanly.
Rachel Portman’s score is never anything particularly groundbreaking, but it does do its job of supporting the action well, veering between dramatic and more twee moments as required; and bolstered by often slightly odd song inclusions from the likes of Dean Martin, Chris Isaak, Perry Como, The Platters and the Reverend Horton Heat.
Look, if I’d wanted fries with that then I would have damned-well asked for them! It seems the same rule applies here – for there’s nada beckoning from the generic menu but the movie. The only extra that Region 1 scored was a trailer.
A film which relies just as much on its cringe-like “where’s it gonna twist next?” factor as much as its own line in black comedic moments and some solid performances from its leads, Home Fries doesn’t exactly reinvent the tumbleweed, but it does offer up what most people look for in a film – an hour and a half of enjoyable escapist entertainment, with more than enough to catch the viewer up in its own little individual whirlwind to make the experience worthwhile.
For an extremely budget release the quality of both video and audio are fantastic, and the lack of any extras is hardly cause for fussin’ and a feudin’.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "