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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Town & Country
Town & Country
New Line // R // October 16, 2001
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 8, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


The stories behind "Town and Country" vary, but the end result still remains rather fascinating - sort of a "Waterworld" of romantic comedies. The film was originally scheduled to come out some time late in 1999, but began missing release dates. Reshoots and other measures caused the film's budget to spiral out of control - many put the final figure at 80 million, while I've seen some even put it at higher than 100 million. Stories abound about who was to blame for the film's lengthy delays - apparently, 10 reels of film were even lost in a van at one point, causing 2 days of re-shoots. The film finally hit theaters in April of 2001 after missing in the neighborhood of 13 release dates, but left almost as soon as it arrived.

After reading all the reports and hearing all the stories, one might expect some sort of wreck of a movie, a Frankenstein creature of a picture. Yet, that's not entirely true at all. "Town and Country" plays like a minor version of Woody Allen. In fact, I could see this being a Woody Allen picture with some minor alterations and Allen in Warren Beatty's role. That, and if Allen was directing, it probably would have cost a 1/4th of the price. The final product is essentially harmless - light, occasionally humorous and livened by a talented cast.

The film stars Beatty and Keaton as Porter and Ellie Stoddard, a very wealthy New York couple whose marriage is, by all surface appearances, going well. Yet, there's trouble brewing. Friends Griffin (Garry Shandling) and Mona (Goldie Hawn) are having trouble with their marriage and head into divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, Porter has been getting busy right and left, attempting to juggle multiple affairs. First, there's violinist Nastassja Kinski, then he runs into looney characters played by Andie McDowell and Jenna Elfman. He even has a stand with Mona. Most of the humor revolves around Porter attempting desperately to dig himself out of the hole that he's fallen into.

That's not all, though. Porter eventually gets found out and takes a trip with Griffin to Sun Valley. The film skips along from episode to episode - while this unfocused method usually wouldn't work, it manages to be strangely effective here. The performances aren't bad, either. Beatty is mildly amusing, especially after watching him in the bizarre "Bulworth". Shandling gets some of the movie's best lines. When the two head off to a log cabin in the woods, Beatty pleasantly comments about the place. Shandling replies, "beavers built it, there used to be a river running through here." Keaton is rather bland, as usual, but Hawn, McDowell and Elfman are enjoyable. Even Charleton Heston gets a few laughs in an performance as McDowell's father.

"Town and Country" may have been buried during its theatrical release by a build-up of bad buzz, but it certainly works better than I thought it would. Glossy, occasionally funny, it doesn't pull itself together often enough to recommend, but it's not quite as bad as reports made it out to be. Still, one has to wonder how the budget of a rather ordinary romantic comedy ballooned so rapidly.


The DVD


VIDEO: New Line presents "Town and Country" in both a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation as well as a pan & scan version. Both are accessible from the menu on this dual-layer disc. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is, aside from a few minor flaws, simply gorgeous. Sharpness and detail are exceptional, as the picture offers fine detail and good depth to the image is often apparent.

The picture is only flawed in one regard. The print used is beautiful, with absolutely no flaws to be found; I didn't even see minor speckles. The picture is largely free of edge enhancement, resulting in a natural, smooth look. The only thing I noticed, in fact, were a few very minimal instances of pixelation.

Colors looked superb, appearing well-saturated, bright and vibrant, with no problems in the way of smearing. Flesh tones appeared accurate and natural, as well. Not without a few very minor flaws, but otherwise, this is a really fine effort.


SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is an extreme suprise. It's certainly no "Armageddon", but I was very suprised at the level of activity. The outdoor scenes on the city streets early in the picture present an incredibly detailed environment; there's a very high level of ambient sounds presented in the surrounds. People talking, cars going by, gusts of wind, birds, everything. Even some of the crowded interior scenes use the surrounds terrifically for fine details (maybe a good chunk of the film's huge budget went towards sound?).

Audio quality remained excellent throughout the movie, as the film's score sounded rich and warm, while the loads of ambient details sounded natural and convincing. Dialogue also came across as natural and clear. For a romantic comedy, this is a suprisingly strong sound experience.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus livened by film-themed images.

EXTRAS:: Trailer.


Final Thoughts: "Town and Country" isn't the horror that most reports made it out to be, but one has to wonder why what could have been a silly little comedy spiraled out of control so far. New Line has provided a nice, but basic DVD, with good audio/video quality, but understandably little in the way of supplements. Fans of the stars may find this a worthy rental.

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