Hanging Up (2000)

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Released 10-Oct-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of-HBO Making Of:Getting Connected,The M/O Hanging Up
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 90:49
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Diane Keaton
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Meg Ryan
Diane Keaton
Lisa Kudrow
Walter Matthau
Adam Arkin
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $39.95 Music David Hirschfelder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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
German
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Hanging Up tells the story of three high society sisters whose father suffers a minor stroke. The middle sibling Eve (Meg Ryan) finds that she alone is left to deal with the crisis, because her sisters are too absorbed in their publishing and acting careers to lend support. A smattering of memories, both joyful and painful, revive the experiences that defined Eve's relationship with her father, which ended on bitter terms when they last spoke. His poor health and encroaching dementia forces Eve to attempt some sort of reconciliation by disconnecting herself from the rabble of daily life. With the static gone, she looks to her heart for the answers that may bring her family peace.

    Played mainly for laughs, the actual movie is not as dramatic as all that. Written by Delia and Nora Ephron, the pair who modernized the romantic comedy subgenre with When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail, this latest offering again employs the winning combination of snappy dialogue and neurotic characters, although far less effectively. Diane Keaton (who also directed) plays the gushy publisher/icon older sister Georgia, while Lisa Kudrow (Friends) is typecast as the brain cell-challenged soap star. Needless to say, Meg Ryan turns in a photocopy of her previous roles as a quirky, vulnerable, but likeable Modern Chick, and Walter Matthau is superb as Lou, the doddering, acerbic father -- one of the few real people in the movie.

    Yes, the Ephron formula is wearing thin. This semi-autobiographical tale assumes that the world gives a d*** about how the Ephron sisters dealt with their father's death. To me it seems that Nora and Delia have lost the critical objectivity that should have consigned this project to the office shredder. But what else can you do when Hollywood wants to turn every word you write into a movie?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Framed at 1.85:1, the 16x9 enhanced transfer image looks fine, although it lacks the vibrance of Columbia Tristar's reference quality efforts.

    Sharpness was good except in a few isolated instances. The worst example occurred on a close-up of Meg Ryan smiling at 27:46, who on freeze frame displayed a rather unflattering array of baby teeth as I scribbled the counter time. It is hard to believe that such amateur hour cinematography survived the editing process, but that possibility is more plausible than a foul-up at the esteemed Sony DVD Centre. An attempt to minimize a slip in Ms Ryan's bankable facade may be the culprit. Did anyone see this problem on release prints?

    Shadow detail was terrific, although at the expense of solid blacks. The technicians at Sony probably made a judgement call about trading one for the other when given less than ideal source material to work with. The result is totally acceptable, great even, but the low contrasts are largely responsible for keeping Hanging Up out of the topshelf ranks.

    Predictably, the colours were saturated and natural looking, but without that lustrous quality. Pumping up the colour level on my Loewe slightly helped to lend more life, while the default levels were perfectly serviceable for a character-based melodrama. Flesh tones were excellent and colour bleed was not a problem.

    The only kind of film artefact I noticed was a grainy sky at 2:40 as Eve drives over a bridge, and mild film grain was apparent under close scrutiny. Aliasing, compression artefacts, scratches, and speckles were absent.

    Hanging Up swaps layers at 60:10 without disrupting the flow of the narrative too much. With a dialogue-intensive film such as this, opportunities to break would be scarce.

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

Audio

    The good but not great video transfer comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that could have qualified as a stereo mix if it weren't for a handful of perfunctory rear effects. I did not listen to the German 5.1 track.

    Most importantly, the continuous dialogue sounded clear, distortion free, and in synch.

    David (Shine) Hirschfelder's piano compositions, which left no lasting impression, were delivered with good fidelity and separation across the front stage. More notable was the inclusion of two songs: Singalong Junk by Paul McCartney, last heard in Jerry Maguire four years ago, and Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow by Dean Martin, the song that plays at the end of the first two Die Hard movies. These choices betray either laziness, poor judgement, a short time frame for securing the rights for the real songs requested by the film makers, or complete ignorance of where they were used before. At any rate, the songs also had a bold presence.

    The surrounds were used most prominently to accent flashbacks to Eve's past. Putting my ear up to the rear speakers during the brief runs of original music revealed a whisper that came through to create a limited soundfield. My B&W subwoofer got bored very early on and decided to go offline to address some personal matters.

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

Extras

Menus

    16x9 enhanced and easy to navigate. No animation or music -- not that those things matter too much.

Dolby Digital City Trailer

Theatrical Trailer (2:15)

    Framed at 1.85.1 and not 16x9 enhanced, the perky trailer caused me to reserve this title for review, since I never got around to seeing it at my local multiplex. The fulsome sound was in Dolby Digital 5.1.

HBO Featurette-Making of Getting Connected, the Making of Hanging Up (10:47)

    While this is fish bait even compared to the half hour fluff pieces packaged on many recent DVDs, footage of the golden Ephron sisters, with their starry eyes and Colgate smiles, is worth keeping in mind as you read the abuse that critics hurled at Hanging Up. Members of the cast are also interviewed, along with shots of Diane Keaton in action behind the camera. The video is full frame and the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Isolated Musical Score

    This is an odd extra given that very little music exists in the film, with two of the songs already familiar to Die Hard and Jerry Maguire aficionados. Fans of David Hirschfelder's piano runs should be delighted, though. The track was presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Deleted Scene (9:34)

    Framed at roughly 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this lengthy deleted scene appends a complete New York flashback sequence to Lou's gripe about his daughters going to New York. While we see more of the character's early personalities, this scene ultimately adds nothing to the narrative. The source appeared to be a rough cut workprint. An interesting extra.

Outtakes (5:28)

    I love outtakes! Jackie Chan had the right idea by running the blooper reels over his end credits. Making them a DVD supplement is a welcome trend, at least in my opinion. Meg Ryan makes herself even more appealing with her numerous laughing fits on set. Looks like a fun way to earn a few million dollars. The grubby workprint image is matted to 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Talent Profiles (6)

    Filmographies and bullet point bios are supplied for Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron, Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and Walter Matthau.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on a full-frame (open matte) transfer of the movie. As this is hardly a tragedy, the Region 4 release is as good a choice as any.

Summary

    Hanging Up deserved the trashing it got from critics. For a picture with a good cast, fine production values, and a story pregnant with thematic potential, the end product manages to be incredibly dull, visually mediocre, and emotionally barren. Audiences with a less critical eye may find it an way entertaining to spend a Saturday evening, though preferably on free-to-air broadcast.

    Columbia Tristar's DVD features an excellent video transfer that just falls short of legend status, while the modest sound design is captured adequately by the Dolby Digital track. The extras do add much needed value to the DVD, since Hanging Up is the kind of stinker I used to dread back in my VHS rental days.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Thursday, September 21, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV-7000 (European model), using Component output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

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