It Had to Be You (1998)

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Released 4-Dec-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Trailer-Roger Dodger; The Real Thing
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:16)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 91:45
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Feder
Studio
Distributor
Flashpoint
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Natasha Henstridge
Michael Varton
Michael Rispoli
Olivia d'Abo
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Luis Bacalov


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, moderately
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Okay, let's see if you can guess the plot of this film from the title and the following setup:

    Charlie Hudson (Michael Varton) is engaged to be married to Claire Parker (Joelle Carter). He is a budding writer, she a publishing executive. She has to go to London to do something with a new writer. He is sent to New York to make certain wedding arrangements. He stays at The Plaza in Room 417 during his time in the Big Seedy Apple. Anna Penn (Natasha Henstridge) is engaged to be married to David Allen. He is an advertising executive, she a fourth grade teacher. He has to go to Paris to sign up a new advertising account. She is sent to New York to make certain wedding arrangements. She stays at The Plaza in Room 517 during her time in the Big Seedy Apple. Charlie's best man, best mate and former partner on the beat is Henry Taylor (Michael Rispoli). Anna's maid of honour, best mate and general confidant is Tracey Meltempi (Olivia d'Abo). Both like a tipple and both are unlucky at love.

    Guess where this film is going? Got it haven't you?

    Well, you almost certainly have got it right. I won't of course spoil it by actually telling you what the rest of the story is, but if you can't get it from the above then you obviously don't watch many films. However, if you recall a film by the name of An Affair To Remember and I say that it has been pretty well ripped off, along with a truckload of other run-of-the-mill romantic comedies, you should by now be right on track with the story. Yet despite the blatantly obvious direction this film is taking from the very first minute, it does so with a decent amount of charm.

    Whilst it certainly is no masterpiece even in a genre blessed with some fairly cruddy efforts, it is by no means the worst rom-com I have ever seen and by the end of the ninety-odd minutes of the film, I was quite happy to sit down and watch it again. Okay, a large part of that is due to Natasha Henstridge who, let's face it, is not the greatest actor the world has ever seen but is fairly easy on the eye. The other part is that I have a bit of a soft spot for Olivia d'Abo, so all things considered, the wanting to watch the film again so soon is hardly surprising. The fact that it has a degree of charm and there really is nothing diabolical about the film - it is after all fairly easy on the brain and easy on the eye - indicates that it is a pleasant enough way to wile away ninety minutes.

    The film apparently went straight to video and it is easy enough to see why - there simply is nothing really here that grabs you enough to suggest that it would attract a crowd into the cinema, shelling out $10 apiece to do so. Unlike most direct-to-video releases though, this is not entirely crud. Whilst she is no Meryl Streep, Natasha Henstridge is quite engaging here as the sweet, slightly geekish teacher and comes across rather well. Michael Varton is not up to her mark, and sort of walks his way through the role without much thought or input. Michael Rispoli stands out as the pick of the bunch here as the alcoholic, street-wise cop. Olivia d'Abo unfortunately seems to have some problems in determining whether she is supposed to be English or American. I cannot say the direction is especially great and cinematography is about what you would expect for this sort of film.

    I certainly would not consider this a worthwhile purchase, there being plenty of better romantic comedies around, but as a renter it is probably worthwhile having a look at this. It has some charm to it and despite the blatant obviousness of the whole film, it is likeable enough.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Whilst the film appears to have been made in 1998, it did not garner a video or DVD release until 2000. That might actually account for the main problem with the transfer, as the storage might not have been the best. Overall, however, there really is nothing much wrong here and the presentation is pretty good.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. The intended theatrical ratio of the film would have been 1.85:1, so the transfer is on the money.

    The transfer is generally quite sharp throughout, with just a few obligatory uses of slightly soft focus to enhance some of the tender moments. Nothing that we haven't seen plenty of times in over 100 years of film! The transfer is clear with just a slight graininess at times that really was not that much of an issue in the overall flow of the film. Shadow detail was very good and there is no low level noise to worry the viewer.

    There is certainly nothing to complain about with the colours. Obviously New York is not the sort of place where you would expect to find bright, vibrant colours during the day - there are plenty at night, all artificial of course - and so the film does not really have them. What it does have is a very faithful look that is extremely reminiscent of the Big Apple. Whilst the colours tend towards the warmer, more neutral side of things, the transfer is still reasonably vibrant. Flesh tones are very natural, blacks have a decent depth to them and there is nothing approaching oversaturation of colours.

    There appears to be no problem with MPEG artefacting in the transfer. Similarly there are few problems with film-to-video artefacting in the transfer. The only noticeable issues, and to be fair there was not many of them, was some minor aliasing - such as in the coat collar at 17:50. The main problem with the transfer is the presence of film artefacts - usually rather noticeable black spot ones. They seemed to be rather more prevalent earlier on in the film, with the later sections a little better looking.

    This is a single sided, single layered DVD. There are no subtitle options accompanying the film, which is rather disappointing.

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

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Whilst there might be people who will bemoan the lack of a six channel surround sound soundtrack, it simply is not necessary in this sort of dialogue driven film.

    The dialogue comes up well and there are no problems understanding any of it. There is nothing at all awry with the audio sync.

    The original score comes from Luis Bacalov, someone I have not heard of before. That, however, does not stop the score from being quite a reasonable effort. Sure it is not a masterpiece by a long shot, but it supports the film quite well and the songs that are also thrown into the mix add to a decent musical aspect of the film.

    Whilst a bit more space in the sound might have been useful, there really is nothing that amiss with what we have. It is free of any obvious problems and quite well mixed so it does not have an obvious frontal feel to it.

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

Extras

    Since this a rental release, I suppose the lack of extras is to be expected. This is the first release I have seen with an opening advert from FACTS regarding piracy.

Menu

    Functional with minor audio and animation enhancement.

Trailers - Roger Dodger (2:24) and The Real Thing (4:59)

    The advertising before the menu is reached... Both are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, they are not 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There is nothing wrong with them and nothing remarkable about them. On the evidence of this, I would not want to see Roger Dodger - which of course means that the trailer has not done its job. The Real Thing, apart from having a rather long trailer that probably gives away all the best bits of the film, is an Aussie flick that looks like it could be worth checking out.

Theatrical Trailer (2:16)

    Presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Since the film went straight to video by all accounts, it is hardly a theatrical trailer but an extended advert. Nothing wrong with it.

R4 vs R1

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

    From the available reviews of the Region 1 release, there appears to be some confusion as to whether that version is 16x9 enhanced or not. Other than that, the only appreciable difference between the two versions seems to be differences in the trailers. Oh, the Region 1 release is of course available for purchase whereas the Region 4 is not yet so available.

Summary

    It Had To Be You is not going to be confused with anything approaching a classic, being as predictable as the incompetence of Soccer Australia. However, it does have its charms and it really is not a bad renter to while away ninety minutes. Don't be put off by the M rating - it is seriously overstating the situation (a short scene where Claire strips down to her underwear and makes advances to Charlie).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Lou H
The DVD Bits - Chris A

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