Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

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Released 16-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Andy Tennant (Director)
Deleted Scenes-8
Alternate Ending
Music Video-Mine All Mine
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 104:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Andy Tennant
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Reese Witherspoon
Josh Lucas
Patrick Dempsey
Fred Ward
Mary Kay Place
Jean Smart
Ethan Embry
Melanie Lynskey
Candice Bergen
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.90 Music George Fenton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Portuguese
Russian
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Icelandic
Arabic
Croatian
Slovenian
Estonian
Spanish Titling
Portuguese Titling
Russian Titling
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Arabic Audio Commentary
Croatian Audio Commentary
Slovenian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, "happily ever after" images

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

Plot Synopsis

Romantic comedies are a staple Hollywood product. Some are run-of-the-mill, some are truly dreadful, and some are quite delightful. The good ones seem to be those that find some original twist, something a bit unusual, something that hasn't been done.

You guessed it this film is one of the good ones. It starts in a fairly conventional way, establishing that Melanie Carmichael (the gorgeous Reese Witherspoon) is an up-and-coming fashion designer in New York, presenting her first big show. She's attractive, she has style, and she's a bit nervous these are good traits in our heroine. Then we get to see her boyfriend, the good-looking Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey), who is supportive, and high-powered. He proposes to her in a novel way (if you have a romantic bone in your body, you'll love this scene!), and she says yes. OK, there's a slight drawback his mother is Mayor of New York, Kate Hennings (Candice Bergen, in a role she can play to the hilt), and a woman of strong opinions. Mayor Hennings is sure there's a skeleton in Melanie's closet, and she wants to know what it is.

She's right. Melanie has a skeleton, or two, or several... You see, before she can get married to Andrew, she'll have to complete her divorce from Jake. Jake? Jake Perry (Josh Lucas) is her old small-town sweetheart, the man she married right out of school back in Alabama. She hasn't been home for seven years, but she's headed home now, because she needs Josh's signature on the divorce papers. She'd like to swoop in, get the signature, and get out, but things just don't work out that way.

The story is a little heavy-handed in the juxtaposition of redneck small-town with big-city sophistication, and some of the less pleasant aspects aren't pursued as they might be in another kind of film, but this film is clearly entertainment, pure and simple.

There are some lovely comic twists in this diverting comedy of errors. It's a sweet little story, and I recommend it as a pleasant diversion.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. Given that it's a Panavision film, that's the expected aspect ratio.

The image is beautifully clear, quite sharp, but with just the slightest touch of softness to remove harshness this contrasts with the R1 release, which is sharper, but harsher we won that one! Shadow detail is good, but not perfect. There is no apparent film grain, and no low-level noise. There is no visible edge enhancement, either.

Colour is excellent, with some nice deeply saturated colours once we get past the opening scene (which is set in twilight, in a thunderstorm). There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are no notable film artefacts, but I did see one small spot (just to prove it was film, perhaps?). There is next to no aliasing, and no moire to speak of. There are no MPEG artefacts. This is a clean transfer, as we might reasonably expect for a film made last year.

There are subtitles in thirteen languages (including Eesti Keel, which is a new one on me I gather it is Estonian), but I only checked the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles. They are reasonably accurate, although I noticed a number of deviations from the spoken word. They are well-timed, and quite legible. They seem to have been done with a bit less care than usual take, for example, 37:14, where a line is subtitled as "Batten down the hatchets" that's not what was said, and it's not what you'd expect to be said, either.

The disc is single-sided and dual layered. The layer change comes at 51:37, just a fraction before a cut. It's a bit obvious, but hardly the worst you'll ever see.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in four languages, but I only listened to the English. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1, but I have no idea why (maybe it's a status thing?) the surrounds are never used for anything significant.

The dialogue is clear and understandable, even with the wide range in depth of accent it's quite interesting to listen to the variation in Melanie's accent, from educated New York to broad Alabama, and various levels in between. There are no obvious audio sync problems.

The music is interesting, with a blend of contemporary and other music, plus numerous songs. George Fenton's score is well-suited to what we're seeing on screen. The song that matches the title of the movie appears twice, with the second version, by Jewel, commissioned especially for this film.

This is a romantic comedy, and it has no call for huge explosions, earthquakes, or other sub-wooferish noises, so we shouldn't be surprised that the sub switched itself off partway through the movie. The surrounds get next-to-nothing to do, too a little bit of score leaks into them, but otherwise you might as well have only your front speakers: left, centre, and right, hooked up.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menus are animated with music. They are simple and effective.

Audio Commentary director Andy Tennant

Despite the big Buena Vista warning (does any other company bother warning us before commentaries? (Ed. Yes, Columbia Tristar now do as well)), Andy Tennant doesn't have anything too controversial to say. His commentary is interesting, pointing out places where scenes were removed, where actors had trouble with their lines, even a spot where Reese tripped over the camera's dolly track. There is one shot where he was told off for removing 8 frames (that's one third of a second) the frames were reinstated. He tells a number of anecdotes about where particular ideas came from perhaps the warning at the start should have read "don't tell this director about your life or it will end up in a movie". In all, this is quite a decent commentary.

The commentary is subtitled in a variety of languages, but unfortunately English is not one of them, so hearing impaired viewers will miss out.

Deleted Scenes Off the Cutting Room Floor

This is nice stuff a stack of scenes that were deleted from movie, each with an introduction from the director explaining why the scene was removed. The times listed are for the intro, then the scene itself:

The character of Erin was completely removed from the film after test screenings; she survives in the form of one newspaper headline shown under the closing credits. I think this was a good idea.

Original Ending

This was the original ending of the film, and it got very negative reactions at test screenings (it's easy to see why). We get a brief intro (0:21), the ending (2:24), and then a comment from the director (0:53).

Music Video Mine All Mine SHeDAISY (3:41)

The song which plays under the second half of the closing credits, performed by three women, two of whom really need to sue their hair colourist.

R4 vs R1

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

The Region 1 version of this disc came out in February 2003. The Region 4 disc is very similar, using the same menu design, same cover photo, and the same extras.

The Region 1 disc is missing:

The Region 4 disc is missing:

The Region 1 disc looks a little sharper, but also harsher, and has reduced shadow detail. Some may prefer the look of the R1, but I think the R4's very slightly softer image is much more film-like, and less wearing to watch.

Summary

Sweet Home Alabama is a pleasant romantic comedy, given a really nice transfer to DVD.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is very good.

The extras are interesting, and well worth having.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, May 11, 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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