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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Splash: Special Edition (1984)

Splash: Special Edition (1984)

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Released 29-Jan-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making A Splash
Featurette-The Audition Tapes (2 + introduction)
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 105:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Ron Howard
Brian Grazer
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Tom Hanks
Daryl Hannah
John Candy
Eugene Levy
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music Lee Holdridge

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Now sit down, children, and listen to a story. Way back before you were born, in the early 1980s, that big movie star Tom Hanks hadn't made any movies, and his TV show had just been cancelled. Big-time movie director Ron Howard hadn't directed any big-time movies (he'd made one real movie, called Night Shift, and some telemovies he was better known for starring in a TV show called Happy Days back then). And that famous movie company, Touchstone Pictures, didn't even exist.

Ron Howard and the team that he worked with on Night Shift, producer Brian Grazer and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, came up with a script for a movie about a mermaid, and hawked it around the various movie companies, getting turned down repeatedly. Eventually they got to Disney, but they weren't real happy about going there, because Disney was renowned for only making G-rated films (I'm not sure if it really was a condition of Walt Disney's will, but that's the rumour), and they really dreaded the idea of cutting this script down to a G-rating.

Disney gave them the go-ahead, but decided that the film could not go out with a PG rating under the Disney name, so they made a new movie company, called Touchstone, so they could release it.

And that, boys and girls, is the story of how Touchstone Pictures came into existence, and how Ron Howard (director) and Tom Hanks both got their first big picture.

What's the movie about? Well, it's an unconventional romantic comedy about a young man who falls in love with the right, um, person. She has a secret, and it's a big one, but it's not what he expected: she's a mermaid. Tom Hanks is perfect as Allen Bauer, an ordinary guy, with a well-meaning slob of a brother (John Candy, who was the "big star" in the movie). Allen is rescued, a couple of times, by a mermaid, without realising it. The second time he drops his wallet, and the mermaid comes to New York, where he lives, to return it. She (Daryl Hannah) tries to keep her secret from him, but she doesn't realise that there's a somewhat obsessed scientist (Eugene Levy, playing completely over-the-top, and loving it!) trying to expose her.

It is rather fun to see Tom Hanks in his debut feature film. And have a look at the cheap Touchstone logo they slapped on the start of the film. But leaving the nostalgia aside, it's worth having this film for its own sake. This is a nicely crafted story, and it holds up well today. Recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is close to the 1.85:1 that was the intended ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The image is fairly clear, but a little soft. Shadow detail is very good. Film grain is no problem, except for one very dark scene underwater in a sunken ship. There is no low-level noise.

Colour is excellent, both in daylight, and underwater. The orange and yellow shadings on the mermaid's tail come up well. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are some film artefacts, but they are fairly infrequent for an 18-year-old film. There's a white blob at 26:03, a tiny blue blotch at 40:09, and a black hair at 69:32, but that's about it for artefacts worth mentioning.

There is a moment or two of mild aliasing, no moire, and no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

There are subtitles in nine languages, including English. There are also captions in English. I watched the captions, and I'm pleased to report that they are fairly accurate (a bit abbreviated), well-timed, and easy to read.

The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 69:32, and it's nicely placed on a static silent shot.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The soundtrack is provided in English or Spanish, both in Dolby Digital 5.1. I only listened to the English, due to my incomprehension of Spanish.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, and that's important for a comedy film like this one. There are no audio sync problems, and no dropouts.

Lee Holdridge's score is well-suited to the action on-screen.

This soundtrack makes little use of the subwoofer, and not a lot of use of the surrounds. All the previous DVDs used a 2.0 soundtrack, and this 5.1 is really not much more than that, but it does split the front sound out into left, right, and centre.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


The previous R4 release had no extras. This disc has some rather nice ones.


The menu is animated with music, with a rather nice transition leading into it.

Featurette Making a Splash (24:07)

This is a rather better-than-usual making of, with lots of information presented nicely. It's presented at 1.33:1, and was probably shot for television.

Featurette Audition Tapes

This is an unusual extra. The actors were required to audition, and these auditions were video-taped by Ron Howard's assistant. She hung onto the tapes. Ron Howard provides an introduction (1:40). One of the interesting features of these auditions is that Ron Howard is reading the cues for the audition.

Commentary the filmmakers

This is one of the best commentaries I've heard. It starts in an unusual way, with a segment introducing the commentary team (3:31): Brian Grazer (producer), Ron Howard (director), and Bobaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz, writers. Ron Howard also provides a brief conclusion after the film. They talk about the making of the film, and filmmaking in general. It's both interesting and entertaining. They aren't afraid to point out spots where they made mistakes. Ron Howard points out the excellent work from the Director of Photography that really contributes to the film. They also discuss how much has changed since this movie came out.

Note that the commentary is subtitled in Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Finnish, which is really good it's a shame it isn't also subtitled in English for the benefit of English hearing-impaired viewers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The original R4 release matched the original R1 release a bare-bones single layer disc that wasn't 16x9 enhanced. Fortunately for us, that disc has been discontinued in R4, but as far as I can ascertain, that's the only version available in Region 1. That makes this disc a clear winner: it has a better transfer that's 16x9 enhanced, and some excellent extras. Let's hear a big yay for Region 4!


Splash is a delightful romantic comedy that holds up well for a film that's nearly 20 years old. This time it is nicely presented on DVD.

The video quality is good.

The audio quality is good.

The extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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