With Honors (With Honours) (1994) (NTSC)

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Released 11-Jun-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 100:56
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Alek Keshishian
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Joe Pesci
Brendan Fraser
Moira Kelly
Patrick Dempsey
Josh Hamilton
Gore Vidal
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, the damned Harvard logo?
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    With Honors is the story of some fairly smug WASP students attending Harvard University during the early 1990s. It features Joe Pesci, who is often under-utilised in the movies in which he appears. He has given some excellent performances in his time (Goodfellas and My Cousin Vinnie spring to mind), but also appeared in some real duffers (I'm looking at you The Super and 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag).

    Unfortunately, With Honors is a by-the-numbers movie. From the opening scenes, you can guess pretty much where everything is headed. Brendan Fraser plays Montgomery Kessler who is a high-flyer, destined for greatness in his chosen field of "Government". Gore Vidal as his professor is delighted by the initial chapter of his final year thesis. Unfortunately for Monty, a hard drive failure (in a quaint DOS style) results in his thesis becoming digital gibberish. On the way to the library to copy the ten chapters he has already printed out, a trip results in his life's work falling down a grate into the boiler room. To his horror, he discovers that a bum named Simon (Pesci), living in the boiler room, is using his opus as fuel. Monty's thesis is held to ransom - one page will be released from captivity for every favour that Monty performs for Simon.

    The remainder of the movie unfolds as Monty forms a bond with Simon, which extends far beyond the thesis. We learn that Simon is an intelligent man, educated by living in some of the best University libraries in the USA...but a man with a hidden past. As Monty and his flat-mates Everett (quite charismatically played by Patrick Dempsey) and Jeffrey (the hammy Josh Hamilton) uncover Simon's secrets, they also realise that he is terminally ill due to the destruction of his lungs by asbestos fibres. The underlying moral of the story is Monty's discovery of the innate importance of a human life, and of love. The importance of living with honour rather than graduating "With Honors". Along the way, Monty will realise that Courtney (Moira Kelly) - his long-tern room-mate - is truly a treasure to cherish, bad guys will become good, and cynicism will turn into altruism as life's lessons are learned.

    With Honors is unremarkable in almost every respect. Unless you are a huge fan of Pesci, Fraser or Harvard University, I would suggest this film is worth an evening's rental at best. The actors largely look like they are phoning it in. The plot has one or two interesting turns, but the characterisation is poor. Pesci manages to ham it up in most scenes, with an explicit or implicit knowing "wink" to camera that is just plain irritating. Desperately trying to coin a catch-phrase (Boy oh Boy), Pesci comes across as a failed member of the "Three Stooges", and one who is not really very likeable. His attempts at pathos are generally pathetic - and not in the intended sense. This is not one of Pesci's finest hours.

    The ending of the film is telegraphed from the first fifteen minutes and there are very few surprises or plot twists to keep you interested. There are a couple of genuinely touching scenes in this movie, but they are so dispersed that they do not sustain your interest or emotions for the entire (100:56) running time.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is acceptable but unremarkable. Got an NTSC-capable display device? No...well, then you won't be able to play back this disc!

    The feature is presented full screen at 1.33:1 which is not its original aspect ratio (it has been "modified to suit your screen"....not mine, buddy). It is not therefore 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is generally sharp and any occasional minor grain is not distracting.

     Shadow detail is variable with blacks usually solid enough, but occasionally they turn into an uninspiring grey. There is no low-level noise evident. Colours are pretty natural (if sometimes subdued) throughout, with no oversaturation or colour bleeding. Skin tones are generally fine.

    The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts crop up more regularly with some minor aliasing which is not overly distracting. Edge enhancement is present occasionally as can be seen from halos around parts of the image, but again is not overly distracting. Telecine wobble is apparent in the titles but is not an issue during the movie.

     The transfer has numerous minor film artefacts which are brief and not really a significant issue.

    There are no subtitle tracks available.

    This is a single-sided single-layered disc and therefore it does not have a layer change.

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

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is adequate but again unremarkable, with no significant audible defects noted.

    There are two audio track available. Presented in either English or French Dolby Digital 2.0 recorded at a 192 kbps, whilst not particularly remarkable they are acceptable. The surround flag is enabled, but is largely unused.

    Dialogue was always clear and audio synch was never a problem.

    There is no credited original score, but there are a couple of great music tunes on the soundtrack including the superb She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult and a cover version (by The Pretenders) of Bob Dylan's Forever Young, but the remainder of the soundtrack is pretty forgettable.

    The soundstage is generally very frontal, with surround channel activity pretty well unnoticed other than for some very subtle background noise and the music tracks.

    The subwoofer was generally comatose throughout.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu features a static and silent cast photo. It allows the selection of English or French language, or one of thirty-two chapter stops.

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 disc appears to be eerily similar to this unremarkable Region 4 release. Given the NTSC transfer and the FBI warnings, I would hazard that they are identical.

Summary

    With Honors is a film...no more, no less. The script is neither witty, intelligent nor particularly entertaining. The direction and acting are adequate, but not particularly noteworthy. This is the movie-making equivalent of mashed potato. It fills out the plate, but is hardly the most notable feature of your cinematic Sunday dinner.

    The video quality is adequate, provided you have an NTSC display device.

    The audio quality is adequate, but uninspiring.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationONKYO TX-DS484
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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