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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 108:36 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Francis Ford Coppola

Warner Home Video
Starring Robin Williams
Diane Lane
Jennifer Lopez
Brian Kerwin
Fran Drescher
Bill Cosby
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Michael Kamen

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.0)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.0)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?
Macrovision ?
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes

Plot Synopsis

    Jack stars Robin Williams as the title character, a ten-year-old boy with a disease that results in his ageing at an accelerated rate. Hence, he may be ten years old, but his body looks forty years old.

    Jack's parents (Diane Lane & Brian Kerwin), concerned about how other children would react to him, have him tutored at home by Mr Woodruff (Bill Cosby). Jack wants to go to school, however, and his parents agree to let him go.

    Jack's adventures at school form the rest of the movie, with Jack initially being shunned because he is different, but later on his unique qualities enable him to make friends.

    Inevitably, this movie will be compared to Big, to which it possesses more than a passing similarity. Big is unquestionably better (no pun intended). Jack starts off excruciatingly bad, with Robin Williams and the script trying far too hard to make us believe that Jack is really ten years old. This simply doesn't work. The humour is very much forced initially, and we have to sit through a number of dreadfully tacky and dull sequences to even get the odd chuckle. Fortunately, it does a complete turn-around in the middle of the movie, and becomes funny, sad and endearing. Towards the end of the film, however, it once again falters but just becomes dull rather than becoming excruciatingly bad again. Make sure you check out the really bad make-up and prosthetic job on Robin Williams' fake receding hair-line at the end of the movie.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is very good with some caveats.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. I have been unable to determine the original aspect ratio of this movie, but I believe it to be 1.85:1.

    The transfer was very sharp and clear, and is remarkably good looking despite being non-16x9 enhanced. There is a marginal loss of resolution because of the lack of enhancement, but this is minor. Shadow detail was satisfactory, though there were not a lot of dark images in this movie. There was no low level noise.

    There was a small blue single-frame glitch in the bottom right corner of the transfer at 32:23.

    The colours were nicely saturated throughout, with frequent vibrant colouration, none of which ever bled nor oversaturated.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some surprisingly rare aliasing. I only noted this in two specific circumstances. The first was on a horizontally-striped top worn by one of the children, which exhibited both aliasing and some moiré effects, and the other was on some car shots.

    Film artefacts were usually completely absent, except for various times during the movie when a brief burst of film artefacts would become apparent. Rather than being isolated specks here and there, these tended to be clusters of defects which drew attention to themselves.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The overall level of the English soundtrack was moderately low, but I could hear everything just fine, so I did not adjust my listening level at all.

    Dialogue was always clear and very audible. However, at times it had a manufactured ADR quality to it.

    There were scattered ADR sync problems with this disc, but no consistent audio sync problem.

    The musical score was composed by Michael Kamen. It was suitable for the on-screen action without being overly remarkable.

    The surround channels had only limited use for the music.

    The .1 channel, even though flagged as being present, seemed to receive no signal whatsoever. Based on the format of the French and German soundtracks, I suspect that there never was a .1 track created for this mix, though some of the music sounded as if it would have benefited from some extra bass.


    There are no extras on this disc, just the usual little piece of paper stating that the disc is compatible with Region 4 players even though the disc label says Region 2.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    This disc has not yet been released in Region 1.


    The main menu is plain and functional. It is not 16x9 enhanced.


    Jack is one-third of a good movie, one-third of a dreadful movie, and one-third of an average movie. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you rent this disc before purchasing it. If you rent it, sit through the first third of the movie - it does gets better.

    The video quality is generally exceptionally good, especially for a non-16x9 transfer, except for the occasional bursts of film artefacts.

    The audio quality is average.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

© Michael Demtschyna
23rd June 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer