America’s Sweethearts

America’s Sweethearts (2001)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack, Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts, Christopher Walken
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Trailers, Filmographies

’America’s Sweethearts’ was one of this summer’s better comedies, no doubt in part due to the great cast the film had to offer, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack, Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts, Christopher Walken and Hank Azaria, and Billy Crystal’s poignant script. The movie gives us a sarcastic – but not too unreal – look behind the scenes of Hollywood where a publicity agent is willing to do literally anything to achieve exposure for his film. The stars of the movie hate each other and even tried to kill each other after a failed marriage. No problem? Lee brings them back together with his slick charm and his skillful playing them off each other. The director is an overly protective lunatic who won’t even let the studio execs see the film? Lee takes care of it and creates hype for a film that potentially doesn’t even exist. The studio boss is freaking out because the movie he set his only hopes on is either not existent or potentially taking a dive? There is nothing Lee can’t take care of and channel in ways the produce something good – in terms of publicity that is, of course. Along the way he takes care of the emotionally distressed entourage and his stars and just plays Mr. Nice Guy for everyone, always ready to exploit the situation for the better of the movie’s promotional merry-go-round.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is offering ’America’s Sweethearts’ in 16×9 enhanced widescreen version and a fullframe transfer on this DVD. Although entirely free of blemishes and defects, given that it is a brand new movie, the transfer is surprisingly weak. It shows a good level of detail for the most part but a good number of shots looks washed out, overly noisy and very soft. Somehow, the image never has the look of a brand new movie. Excessive use of edge-enhancement further adds to the image’s degradation the image often appear unnaturally sharpened with clearly visible and distracting halo ringing artifacts. The color reproduction is good with natural looking colors throughout and very well-balanced contrasts. Blacks are always deep but don’t wash out, and highlights stand out nicely without bleeding. The compression is good and no compression artifacts are evident.

The DVD comes with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track that is on the other hand surprisingly dynamic and active. With a wide frequency response I was surprised how full-bodied the track is and especially the movie’s score is benefiting from this expansion. Surround usage is good and frequent, creating an active mix. Dialogues are well integrated and always stand out over the sound effects and the music, remaining intelligible at all times.

As bonus materials, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has added five deleted scenes from the movie with optional introduction by director Joe Roth. They are a great assortment and while it’s good that they haven’t been included in the final film, they are fun to watch separately nonetheless, as each one adds its own little twist to the story.

’America’s Sweethearts’ is a fun movie and it rings true on so many levels. The film strikes a perfect balance between laugh-out-loud funniness and more serious tones, as well as the romantic overtones. The characters are incredibly vivid and rich, always good for a laugh, a smile or another twist in their egos. Check it out. It is a really entertaining film.