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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Andre
Andre
Paramount // PG // March 19, 2002
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 16, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

The whole kid-paired-with-cute-animal genre has really calmed down in the past few years. Once a staple of any year's film slate, the genre went through a bit of a rebirth in the early 90's, then faded away. One can blame the fact that filmmakers probably ran out of ideas on cute animal/cute kids stories, but the sad fact is that family-friendly entertainment as a whole has really not been produced nearly as frequently - or with the same kind of quality - as it once was (although there are still some exceptions).

Anyways, "Andre" was one of the wealth of pictures in the early 90's that paired kids with animals, including a remake of "Lassie", "Prancer", "Zeus and Roxanne", "Free Willy" and others. The film doesn't do much to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack, but the performances lift it slightly North of average.

The film opens in 1962 in Maine. Harry Whitney (Keith Carradine) runs the local harbor and has to deal with a large family of humans and a large family of animals. One day, Harry comes across a sick seal and decides to take it in. His daughter, Toni (Tina Majorino) doesn't have a lot of friends at school and takes a liking to the newest member of her family.

Still, "Andre" is a kid's film and, while many of these pictures skid through with wacky adventures, "Andre" is one of the group that has to have the bad guys lurking about in the small town. In this case, there's a local fisherman who strongly believes that Andre and the other seals are the cause of the poor catch that season. The fight between the family dog and the seal is more entertaining than the bland crisis between the fishermen and Andre.

Again, the performances - and some other elements - keep the film from being too sappy. Majorino delivers an especially good performance, offering solid emotion without being too cutesy. Director George Miller keeps the comedy amusing without turning too much towards slapstick, while the cinematography remained beautiful throughout. A little more reworking of the screenplay to skip over the familiar parts of the genre would have helped the film be even better than average.


The DVD

VIDEO: Paramount presents "Andre" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I'm very thankful that Paramount has presented this beautifully filmed family picture in its original aspect ratio. Thomas Burstyn's cinematography is truly gorgeous at times and - more often than not - looks terrific here. Sharpness and detail are excellent, as the picture remained crystal clear even in some dimly lit sequences inside the household.

Little flaws popped up now and then, but they never really added up to very much. Some minimal grain was apparent now and then, but it seemed like an intentional element of the photography. Very minor edge enhancement was visible once or twice, but no pixelation was seen. The print was largely clean, but some specks and a mark or two were seen now and then.

Colors were very attractively presented, looking natural and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other flaws at all. Black level remained solid, while flesh tones looked accurate and natural.

SOUND: "Andre" is presented by Paramount in Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtrack works well enough for the material. While I would have appreciated a good deal more ambience in the outdoor sequences, the music occasionally is reinforced by the surrounds and the audio remains crisp and clear throughout.

MENUS: The main menu is essentially the cover art again.

EXTRAS: Nothing.

Final Thoughts: Thanks to a rather predictable and cliched script, "Andre" never really reaches its full potential. Still, thanks to the performances and cinematography, this remains a watchable and occasionally quite enjoyable family film. Paramount's DVD delivers fine audio/video, but nothing in the way of supplements. Overall, I'd certainly think the DVD is a worthwhile rental for families.

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