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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Boys
Boys
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG-13 // March 4, 2003
List Price: $9.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 3, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

A 1996 low-budget drama with Winona Ryder, this is certainly not one of Ryder's finest efforts. At 86 minutes, there's not only not much in the way of character development, there's simply not much movie here. Ryder plays Patty Vare, a 25-year-old who is knocked out cold after falling from a horse. She's found by John Baker (Lukas Haas), who hides her in his dorm at the local boys' school. Oddly, she doesn't want to go to the hospital. No points for those who guess she has a Big Secret.

Soon enough (sooner than later, given the 86-minute running time) the two - not convincingly at all - are falling for one another while at the local amusement park. Much of the rest of the running time is spent with John trying to keep Patty a secret from his roommates, one of which breaks his hand in a scene where he punches a wall for no apparent reason.

This is one odd film. Ryder's character hardly says anything early in the film and the actress spends most of the first half-hour looking confused. Patty and John have little chemistry and hardly share any conversation, but the film expects us to believe that they're falling for each other. Flashbacks are thrown in suddenly and randomly in a quick attempt to tell backstory.

"Boys" contains one fine performance, which is from Ryder. Once she stops looking dazed and confused, she actually turns Patty into a sweet and charming character. Haas is dull and the roommates, all of which are mean-spirited and generic, are no better. There's even some surprising casting choices in the supporting roles: minor characters are played by James Legros ("Scotland, PA"), John C. Reilly ("Chicago"), Chris Cooper ("Adaptation") and Catherine Keener ("Being John Malkovich"). Certainly, all three have found far better roles, especially lately. To be fair, the dialogue the actors are dealing with is often pretty terrible, for example: "I feel like I woke up with the dial on the wrong channel, or something."

Adapted from a short story called "Twenty Minutes", "Boys" has a flimsy, thin story that, even at 86 minutes, feels like more than two hours. A film that went right to video after a limited theatrical release in a few markets, "Boys" is certainly one of Ryder's least interesting efforts.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Boys" is presented by Touchstone Home Video in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. While certainly not a very good film, there are a few scenes with some very nice scenery, which is captured well by cinematographer Robert Elswit ("Boogie Nights", "Magnolia"). For non-anamorphic presentation, the picture quality isn't half bad, with nice sharpness and detail. The picture remained consistent, with no noticable softness.

No serious problems came up during the presentation, but some minor ones did appear. Shimmering did show up on some buildings in a couple of scenes early in the picture, while slight dirt and grain occasionally showed up on the print used. On a positive note, no compression artifacts or edge enhancement were seen.

Colors were nicely presented, with vivid, accurate tones. Black level remained solid, while flesh tones looked natural. Unfortunate that it's not anamorphic, but for a non-anamorphic transfer, this is above-average.

SOUND: The box states that the film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, when this is actually a 2.0 soundtrack. Aside from the dialogue and generic, "hip" soundtrack, there's little else here. Dialogue remained fairly clear and natural-sounding, but there's not much else to say about the film's audio.

EXTRAS: Nothing.

Final Thoughts: Boring, unbelievable and underdeveloped, "Boys" is for hardcore fans of Ryder only. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but no supplements. For those interested, the $9.99 price tag is reasonable, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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