A film reportedly based on the opposite sides of the political campaign romance between James Carville and Mary Matalin, "Speechless" stars Michael Keaton and Geena Davis as speech writers from opposing sides of a New Mexico senatorial campaign. Both are staying in the same hotel with one another and they Meet Cute over the last pack of sleep aids. They end up not sleeping and spending the night together, falling in love over only what seems to be a shared insomnia.
This is one of those rare films where the two people who are obviously in love with one another fall for each other right away, then find themselves arguing, only to come back together at the end. It's an interesting approach, but it doesn't work that well, as the two are suprisingly more interesting bickering with one another (there's a particularly funny sequence where the two are arguing with one another during a school meeting they've been invited to), as they don't exactly have the best romantic chemistry.
There are some nice moments here between Davis and Keaton, and their performances are enjoyable, although not their finest work. Good supporting performances are also offered by Christopher Reeve and Bonnie Bedelia. The only problem is that there's something off about the pacing and the timing, while the screenplay doesn't help matters much. There's a bit too much of, "they're together, they hate each other, they're together, they hate each other" and it starts to get tiring. There's a point where you want to knock the character's heads together like the three stooges to make them realize they like each other and get to the point already.
VIDEO: MGM presents "Speechless" in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and pan & scan - each is on one side of a dual-sided disc. Watching the anamorphic widescreen edition, the first thing I thought was "uh oh." This is simply not a very good presentation from MGM, who was just starting to suprise me as they've gotten better with some of their catalog efforts. "Speechless" does have pleasant cinematography from Don Peterman (director Barry Sonnenfeld's films), but it's not done justice here. The image looks noticably soft throughout the film - although there are some moments that look slightly crisper than others, the presentation as a whole is wanting in clarity and definition. Darker scenes sometimes look murky and undefined.
Some other flaws were also noticable throughout the film. Minor pixelation and edge enhancement were visible briefly - neither of these flaws distracted terribly, but they were bothersome. Together with other issues, such as grain and noise, as well as the occasional speck and mark on the print, add up to definite irritation considerably more often than I would expect, especially since this is a fairly recent (1994) film.
Colors were not entirely pleasant. There were times on occasion through the film where they could look a bit heavy, oversaturated and slightly smeared, while other scenes appeared nicely rendered and crisp. This is not an entirely unpleasant transfer, but it's a very average and occasionally quite mediocre one that has some worries.
SOUND: "Speechless" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Given the fact that this is not only a comedy, but a romantic comedy, the filmmakers have expectedly forgotten the fact that there are surrounds available to use. The film is a completely dialogue-driven affair and when Marc Shaiman's score isn't playing, the film folds up almost completely into the center channel. Audio quality is decent, but unremarkable, with occasionally thin-sounding dialogue.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.
EXTRAS: The trailer. As with many MGM catalog releases, that's it, that's all.
Final Thoughts: "Speechless" is a cute, but not particularly funny or romantic picture that had the potential to be better than it turned out to be. MGM's DVD offers uninspired sound and inconsistent, but overly dissapointing image quality. Fans of the film might be pleased to see that the film is available on DVD for $14.99 (and as low as $9.99 in some stores), but there's nothing particularly noteworthy about the disc. Rent it.