My Blue Heaven (1990)

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Released 19-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 91:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Herbert Ross
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steve Martin
Rick Moranis
Joan Cusack
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Ira Newborn


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Ah yes, they simply don't make comedies like this anymore, do they? This film is classic Steve Martin, providing the perfect vehicle for him to excel in what is a classic comedy / feel-good movie of yesteryear. This movie is completely innocent, very funny, and totally absorbing and disarming, making it a thoroughly entertaining way to spend 90 minutes of your life. The story itself was penned in 1990 by the lady who had just the year before written When Harry Met Sally, and who would go on to write Sleepless In Seattle, among other popular romantic comedies, so the story benefits from a very satisfying romantic subplot, but, thankfully, without getting sentimental with it. The story of My Blue Heaven may be well honed, but it required two great comedians, Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, to take this charming story and transform it into a truly great comedy. Note that these two stars had just come off the success of working together on Parenthood the year before, and you can see in this follow-up that they clearly enjoyed working with - and off - each other.

    Steve Martin really is a comedic genius. His timing and delivery are impeccable. This film showcases him at what is arguably the peak of his career. This role is tailor-made for him, providing the perfect vehicle for his style of comedy and allowing him to shine as the cocky, brash, over-confident, but completely likeable Mafia figure turned informant, Vincent "Vinnie" Antonelli. The story as narrated by Vinnie is set in the idyllically peaceful suburban town of Fryburg, where Vinnie is escorted by FBI Agent Barney Coopersmith (Rick Moranis) to begin a new life under a new identity, as part of the FBI's witness protection plan. But if Barney expects that Vinnie will be content to just lie low and keep out of trouble until his final testimony in court - as other criminals-turned-informant might be tempted to do in such circumstances - then he is in for more than a few headaches. Vinnie of course has no intention of keeping out of trouble and so immediately attracts the attention of the town's young Assistant District Attorney, Hannah Stubbs (Joan Cusack), who is as equally flabbergasted at the brash but charming Vinnie as she is attracted by the new FBI Agent who keeps pulling rank on her to prevent Vinnie from being  prosecuted for his numerous petty crimes. Pretty soon we have Vinnie running riot in this small town, Vinnie helping Barney to break out of his conservative shell, and Vinnie match-making the exasperated Hannah with Barney. Oh, and also Vinnie completely winning over the hearts of Hannah's baseball-mad sons and eventually the whole town into the bargain! What we end up with here is a mixture between a traditional buddy movie, a traditional light romance and more than a healthy dose of the over-the-top, goofball humour that makes a Steve Martin film so much fun. It's all very clean, innocent, heart-in-the-right-place kind of humour that surely cannot fail to entertain.

    It is probably true that this style of unsophisticated comedy wouldn't work if made again today. Maybe the world was indeed a much more naive place back in 1990, enabling its audiences to be more readily absorbed into the forget-your-troubles cocoon that a film like this provides. But even if the comedy in this film is rather naive and light-hearted by today's modern standards, then perhaps it just goes to show that we might have lost something along the way since. I for one am more than happy to sink into the world of My Blue Heaven again and again for repeat viewings. If only all comedy could still be this clean and this simple, and yet still deliver with this much fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    For a bare-bones, budget priced DVD release, the video transfer not only does the job but is a real delight.

    The presented aspect ratio is 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is close enough to the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1.

    The quality of the transfer is surprisingly high for a thirteen year-old print of a medium-budget film. Sharpness and shadow detail are eminently acceptable. Resolution is quite sharp, with only minimal film grain and no real low level noise issues to detract.

    Colour in the transfer is very warm and tending to quite striking in parts. Director Herbert Ross and cinematographer John Bailey have opted for bold colours to convey the idyllically green grasses and blue skies of this idyllic suburbia. The DVD's video transfer captures these bold colours very well. Black levels are also quite solid and there are no colour bleeding issues, even in one bar/nightclub scene that employs harsh, brightly coloured fluoro lighting. The only complaint to make with the colour in this transfer is that skin tones are often over-cooked, coming across at times noticeably too red.

    There are no MPEG artefacts to worry about. Film-to-video artefacts consist of numerous instances of mild aliasing and some minor telecine wobble around the opening credits. Film artefacts consist of numerous little film flecks sprinkled throughout the feature, but all are extremely minor and so not distracting in the least.

    Both English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle streams are provided. I sampled the former for a good portion of the feature and found the subtitling to be clear and relatively accurate, although the subtitle stream itself is placed annoyingly high up in the frame.

    This disc is single-layered, so there is no layer change time to note.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is all that can be expected for a budget-price DVD release - it suffices, but is relatively flat.

    There is only one audio track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix (encoded at a rather paltry 192 Kb/s). This would appear to be the original theatrical audio mix.

    This is a dialogue-driven movie, and so dialogue quality is crucial. The audio transfer delivers, with clean, clear vocals from the centre channel. There are no instances of muffled lines or missed gags. Audio sync is also fine.

    The soundtrack to this film is relatively scarce, consisting only of the odd, well-chosen song to break up the dialogue in key scenes, for example when Vinnie takes Barney shopping or when the pair end up in the nightclub. Apart from these few songs, there is virtually no music score. The DVD's audio transfer captures the stereo of the songs well, albeit just rather loud in comparison to the surrounding dialogue scenes. Given the importance of the use of these songs in, say, the nightclub scene, the increase in volume for these songs would appear to be intentional. The audio transfer provides ample dynamic range and clarity.

    The use of stereo in the mix is however disappointing, given that the film is dialogue-intensive, all driven out of the centre channel, and with next to no sound effects panning employed across the left and right channels. In fact, apart from some minor ambient sound effects at low volume, the only times the left and right front channels jump to life is to deliver the stereo in the songs, which they then do quite effectively, before dying down again as soon as the song finishes.

    The use of the surround channels is also minimal and exactly the same comment may be made; that is, for the most part, the surrounds are only used at very low volume for ambience, but they do jump to life effectively to fill out the soundstage during the songs.

    The subwoofer virtually has the night off - not surprising given the nature of this movie and its complete lack of any demanding LFE. Even in the occasional action sequences where some sound effects are called upon, we only get gutless, low-budget, library sound effects. Have a listen to the rather wimpy gunshots in Chapter 27 and you'll hear what I mean.

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

Extras

    There are no extras.

  

R4 vs R1

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

    This title is available in Region 1, also as a bare-bones release with no extras. But worse, the Region 1 release suffers from a butchered pan & scan video transfer, with no alternate widescreen transfer provided.

    This title is yet to be released in Region 2, but if/when it is it will be identical to our Region 4 disc, noting that our PAL disc has been dual-zoned for this purpose.

    The current Region 4 version is the clear winner.

 

Summary

    My Blue Heaven is a classic comedy of yesteryear. Simple, light-hearted, unsophisticated, silly, feel-good, totally absorbing fun. Fans of Steve Martin's humour and delivery already know this to be up among his best. Rick Moranis also plays off him well and the two stars are obviously having fun. How could you not enjoy this film?

    It is presented here on a bare-bones DVD with absolutely zero extras (the bad news), but at least with a great video transfer, a decent audio transfer and a bargain basement price (the good news). This disc should find a home in any serious comedy DVD collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA.
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

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