Buena Vista/Buena Vista .
R4 . COLOR . 90 mins .
M15+ . PAL
12 years before the smash hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding there was Betsy’s Wedding, made in 1990 and full of silliness, lovely 1980s-style fashions and a good healthy dose of hilarity. And how do you know when this film is made? Well take a look at the number of brown fashions starring and you’ve got an answer. Featuring a star-studded cast, Betsy’s Wedding jabs a stick at almost everything, featuring very little in the way of a legible (let alone credible) story line, just one special “moment” after the other.
"Wow, that must be a bitch to clean."
Starring Alan Alda, Joe Pesci, Catherine O’Hara, Ally Sheedy, Joey Bishop, Dylan Walsh, Anthony LaPaglia and Molly Ringwald, Betsy’s Wedding starts quickly with an odd dream sequence involving a lion that just really places a scarily silly tone to the film. From here we disjointedly fly though a series of different family settings without any real "betweening" scenes – just one point in time followed suddenly by another. For a pretty mindless silly-fest, this is one Wedding you want to see, but the real draw card is in the unpredictable nature of the story – what’s going happen next? You’ll never guess it... Stand outs in the cast include a very young, strapping, if slightly creepy, LaPaglia, and, of course, Molly Ringwald. Best known for a stint of films in the 1980s rather than her horrific appearances in recent years (yes, we do here an embarrassed bullshit cough mentioning the word “Cut”) such as Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, her fashions in Betsy’s Wedding are really nothing short of ludicrous. They are absolutely beyond hilarious, but we’re saying this from the comfort of the 21st century. Still, she just has the look, personality and character to carry these eccentricities so well. Personal favourite O’Hara steals her very few scenes with a killer attitude, lusciously healthy looks and a real told-ya-so type character that gives a wicked edge to the film. Joe Pesci plays a real bastard, deserving everything that comes at him, but dying your moustache black to match your fraying hair is not really a good look.
"Well, every once in a while I remember that some day when I have a nice little nest egg, I can take a walk and he can go f*ck himself. Then I feel much better."
It’s time for the dreaded family dinner. Yes that’s right, the Hoppers are having a family dinner with mother Lola (Kahn) and father Eddie (Alda) with their two daughters Betsy (Ringwald) with boyfriend Jake (Dylan Walsh) in tow, and Connie (Sheedy), as well as Eddie’s father (Bishop) and relations Gloria (O’Hara) and husband Oscar (Pesci). It is at this family dinner that Betsy and Jake announce their engagement. And now the fun begins as the plans for the wedding start to take shape. We have issues of money, both a lack thereof and an excess of, as well as religion, love, fashion, infidelity and getting your own back, not to mention the whole gangster theme (yeah, so fitting, right?). Any expansion on the plot and it’ll ruin Betsy’s impact, so just watch it for yourself. Just remember to check your brain at the door and remember to take your '80s pill beforehand, because after some of these fashions, they’ll have you gagging for the present day. But give it a shot – it’s not terribly deep, nor emotionally demanding, but just a bit of fun – that’s all it aims to be and all this reviewer is prepared to give it credit for.
Here I am - you're sprinkled cupcake ready to go...
Presented in the Betsy’s original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1, her Wedding is also presented with anamorphically enhanced goodness. To be honest, there really is very little to talk about here – it’s a really neat transfer. The most distracting feature is the constant flicker of film artefacts which come in all shapes and sizes ranging from a quick speck to a slight scratch to a hair mark. These appear pretty much throughout the film, but aren’t terribly disturbing, just subtly noticeable. The second thing you’ll see is the fine wash of faint grain over the image, discretely shimmering over the picture. Colours appear vibrant and in the case of Ringwald’s sometimes... ahem... bright clothing, quite hideously striking. Blacks are solid and whites stunning, with beautiful contrast and deep shadows. Posterisation is severely limited, and the image just looks superb. The clarity of the image is quite clean, with a nice sharp focus and well-defined and rendered edges. With the film fitting quite spaciously on a single layer with plenty of room to spare, the video quality is remarkably high, especially with concern to compression issues, and really is simply an absolute pleasure to watch.
Presented with three language options, Betsy’s Wedding default listening option is Dolby Digital 5.1 English. The remaining tracks are in DD 5.1 French and DD 2.0 Spanish. Obviously, the English track is the prime option, and the dialogue is decently presented, however at times it can be a little hard to decipher. If more than one person is speaking at a time, the soundtrack is quite noisy, sounding rather busy and muffled. Originally presented as a stereo soundtrack in 1990 cinemas, Betsy’s Wedding has (apparently) been remixed to a 5.1 soundstage, but you could’ve fooled me. Surround action is severely limited, and the woofwoof barely raises its head. Sadly, the space used on this soundtrack is a little wasted, however given the excellent video quality there really is no reason to complain.
Bruce Broughton’s score is unmemorable, but fitting to the style of the film. Filling the remainder of the soundtrack are tracks from Van Morrison, The Dixie Cups and Frankie Avalon, and it's all quite fitting for the film, although to be honest not really this reviewer’s cup of tea.
The 16:9 enhanced menus are the only evidence of an extra feature, and that’s already skating on thin ice. Oh well, it is a film from 1990, but surely there’s a trailer somewhere?
Betsy’s Wedding is a 90 minute enjoyable fluff ride offering very little depth, but a large amount of fun. Transfer-wise, Buena Vista’s transfer is quite nice, boasting exceptional video but a rather uninteresting audio transfer. Extras are absent, but Molly Ringwald is present, so it’s all good. Collectors rejoice – this is a great transfer of a decent film, so for a night’s entertainment, give this a go.