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Kino // PG // June 26, 2018
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted July 14, 2018 | E-mail the Author
In 10 Words or Less
Attempted screwball romantic comedy wastes Garr and Lloyd

Images accompanying this review are for illustration only, anc do not represent the quality of the presentation.

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Comedies, ‘80s films
Likes: Teri Garr, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Rodriguez
Dislikes: James Woods, most early ‘90s comedies
Hates: Lack of plot

The Movie
At 87 minutes, Miracles is still too long. That says it all about a film that stretches a modicum of plot into what's essentially an extended chase scene, all the while wasting the talents of some of the era's best comedic actors. That's what happens when you try to make a film about coincidences, rather than unimportant stuff like character development or story. Written and directed by first-time helmer Jim Kouf--who had written better films and would go on to direct better films--it just fails to entertain, despite having some quality ingredients.

Roger (Tom Conti) and Jean (Teri Garr) are a socialite couple just recently divorced after 10 years. Having gone their separate ways, they end up accidentally together again thanks to a car crash, only to be hijacked by a bank robber (Paul Rodriguez) and his nutty accomplice (Christopher Lloyd). Somehow, they end up on a plane, and wind up in Mexico, where they are arrested for drug trafficking, and...honestly, whatever plot is described, it doesn't matter. The whole point of the film is to force Roger and Jean together and apart repeatedly, to attempt to rekindle what they once had. And there's a subplot involving a jungle tribe.

Far too much of this remarkably short film features Roger and Jean arguing and rehashing their past. If you have ever had the misfortune of being around a couple either in the midst of tough times or after a breakup, you know it's the last place you want to spend an extended amount of time, but that's exactly where Kouf has put the audience, and it tends to be painful. It might not be so bad, if there was something more interesting going on around it, but it's like one long chase scene wrapped around a marriage counseling session. Perhaps it's a matter of pacing, and cutting up the arguments, or putting them over sme action would make things better, but as it is, this film is a slog.

Part of the problem might also be the lead couple (which is all we really have to work with.) Though Garr has proven she can be monumentally funny and Conti is great at the everyman bit (and handled rich jerk here equally well), together in this film, they just fall flat. At no point does Garr earn anything even close to a laugh, instead coming off as quite unappealing, and Conti feels like he's play-acting, especially when he's supposed to be angry about the situation he's in. Maybe it's just a matter of recency bias, but imagine if you replaced Garr and Conti with a pairing like Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman from Game Night. That is a couple you'd want to follow on their misadventure and enjoy spending the time with.

One of the things that stood out about Miracles--which indicates just how uninteresting the film actually is--is the description on the box. Mixing credits for all the big names involved with a brief explanation of the plot, it ends referring to two co-stars: Lloyd (who is in a few scenes and is a memorable, manic presence) and the late Charles Rocket. For those unfamiliar with Rocket, he was best known for dropping an F-bomb live on SNL and getting fired in the midst of the show's worst season. According to the credits, in this film he plays Michael. After three viewings of the film, it's not exactly clear who Michael is. It must be a miniscule and/or unimportant part, but he still gets referenced on the box. Obviously, Miracles doesn't feature a very recognizable cast, and there's a minimum number of names that must be mentioned on the box.

The Disc
Kino Lorber is cornering the market on Jim Kouf films, releasing Miracles on one Blu-ray disc, which is packed in a standard keepcase. The cover and static menu features illustrated poster art (seemingly from the film's European marketing). Menu options include watching the film, selecting scenes and checking out the extras. There are no audio options, nor are there subtitles.

The Quality
With no reference to a new master, one can guess that this 2.35:1, 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is from the vaults, and a viewing would confirm that to the eye, as it looks like a film that's been sitting around a while. Colors leans toward muted shades, with a slight bit of pop in specific areas, while the level of fine detail isn't going to knock anyone's socks off. Black levels are decent (there are a number of dark scenes that display only a small amount of crush in the shadows) and the level of grain feels natural and consistent. There is some slight dirt and damage in areas, but overall it's decently clean, with one jarring moment of jitter, where the entire frame suddenly shifts for a second. For the most part, it's not a distracting presentation.

For a screwball comedy, there's a decent amount of actually action, including gunfire and explosions, but unfortunately the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track isn't up to the task of bringing the heat, resulting in a somewhat flat presentation. Overall, there's nothing about the sound that makes itself stand out, whether it's the dialogue, which is easily understood on the whole, the ambient sound in scenes or the music (which is wholly forgettable.)

The Extras
Kino brought in Kouf and associate producer Lynn Kouf for a commentary, and the track they provide delivers a good amount of background info about what was apparently a troubled production, involving paying off local gangs, avoiding corrupt police and dealing with bad electricity. They also discuss the inspiration for the film, changes that were made to the film during production, alternate castings and what it was like to deal with a truly awful producer. There is some dead air where they get caught watching, but there's enough conversation to keep things interesting.

Trailers are available for Miracles, Disorganized Crime, upcoming Kino release Blame it on the Bellboy (starring Bronson Pinchot), V.I. Warshawski and Big Business.

The Bottom Line
What sounded like a potentially enjoyable concept starring a solid cast, turned out to be a stretched-thin premise that never pays off in any legitimate way. Obviously, you're supposed to care about the two leads, played as well as they could be by Garr and Conti, but after being stuck with them for 80 or so minutes, you just share their sense of captivity. Kino has presented the film in fine shape, and threw in a quality commentary that might explain where Miracles went wrong, so it's at least worth watching with that track. But it you hear the names Garr and Lloyd and expect a good time, you should look elsewhere.

Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

Follow him on Twitter

*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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