My Bodyguard

My Bodyguard (1980)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Chris Makepeace, Adam Baldwin, Matt Dillon, Ruth Gordon, Martin Mull, John Houseman
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots

‘My Bodyguard’ was a 1980 sleeper hit which still has a way of endearing itself to viewers some 22 years later. Clifford Peache is the new kid at school who unwittingly raises the ire of the local sophomore bully, Moody. Refusing to pay ’protection money’ to Moody and his thugs, Clifford has to evade and endure the troupe’s tauntings. But when the hulking Ricky Linderman appears on the scene, fabled to have committed various acts of violence and effectively striking fear into the heart of every school kid (including Moody and his boys), Clifford approaches the outcast and hires him to be his personal bodyguard. And while the two become fast friends, Clifford has yet to learn the truth of Linderman’s storied past, a reality that haunts the bodyguard and serves as catalyst for the two to face up to the next challenge Moody delivers.

Billed as a new entry in Fox’s ’Family Feature’ line, this one has all the drama, humor, and tender moments to gain it such distinction. The script is smartly written and just about flawlessly acted by the terrific ensemble cast. While the subject matter might be a bit much for the youngest ones in the house, this picture remains innocent enough and will elicit appropriate cheers and jeers from all ages. Watch for an early performance from Joan Cusak and a bit part for George Wendt (of TV’s ’Cheers’).

And while this film is quite delightful, this disc is a terrific disappointment. Unfortunately, Fox again shows its apathy for titles that will be marketed under series brandings. Though framed at its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this looks like nothing more than a VHS dump to DVD. The picture quality is inconsistent, showing too much grain at times, too much softness at others, and a significant amount of source print damage. Not sure who was asleep at the wheel during this transfer, but they deserve to be clocked for this one. The full-frame transfer looks even worse, being blown up to fill out standard TV screens and further accentuating the film’s visual flaws in the process.

The audio comes by way of the original mono soundtrack or a newly expanded Dolby Surround mix. The new mix is nice, adding extra dimension to the production but, again, seeming to be a half-hearted effort at best. Too bad since Dave Gruisin’s excellent soundtrack isn’t offered better opportunity to shine here. The only extras here are the original theatrical trailer and five TV spots.

While I love the fact that this well-made picture is now available on DVD, I’m frustrated that it’s given such indifferent treatment. There’s little excuse for this sort of cheap transfer anymore and I would certainly hope Fox would see the err of its ways before it likewise undercuts other notable films deserving of better treatment.