Scenes from a Mall (1991)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Nov-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 83:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paul Mazursky
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bette Midler
Woody Allen
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Marc Shaiman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Spanish
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Scenes From A Mall is not directed by Woody Allen, even though he plays a starring role in it. I didn't realise this until I watched the film. However, it's pretty obvious it's not a Woody Allen film in hindsight, because it is set in California (where the shopping malls are bigger, brighter and snazzier than anywhere else on Earth).

    It is actually directed and co-written by Paul Mazursky, who also gave us Down And Out In Beverly Hills. It can almost be regarded as a "sequel" in that it is also a film about the lives and neuroses of an upper middle class family in Beverly Hills. It is not as quirky as the earlier film, but has its own charms.

    On the sixteenth wedding anniversary of the Fifers, Nick (Woody Allen) sends his kids off on a skiing trip (with only $50 of pocket money, despite their protests). He then has a (relatively) quiet and blissful morning with his wife Deborah (Bette Midler) before they decide to go to the mall to pick up a few things, such as their presents to each other plus food for the night's anniversary party with their closest friends.

    The whole film is a very clever parody of the values and mores of the well-to-do. Nick is a lawyer trying to close a big deal. Deborah is a marriage counsellor who has just written a new book. Their lives seem ... well, perfect.

    Of course, beneath the surface, nothing is perfect. Nick finally reveals to Deborah that he's been having an extra-marital affair. At first Deborah seems to take it well, but her veneer breaks down and soon she's threatening a divorce. Suddenly their whole marriage start to unravel before their eyes and there is lots of soul-searching on both sides. Eventually, they kiss and make up, but Deborah then decides she also has a secret to confess ...

    The idea of Woody Allen playing a character who is a lawyer living in California who is actually interested in shopping at a mall seems completely preposterous. I'm sure both Paul Mazursky and Woody Allen enjoyed challenging our preconceptions. Woody even has a great line where he defends the virtues of living in California vs. New York City (an obvious reference to the opposite position he took in Annie Hall). However, I can't help but feel that Woody looks distinctly uncomfortable throughout the whole film.

    Incidentally, for those of you who are shopping mall aficionados (like me, heh!) you may be interested to know that although the mall exterior scenes are obviously that of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, the interior scenes were a combination of a studio soundstage and the Stamford Town Center in Connecticut. The real Beverly Center has a fairly dim interior with a brown/gold colour scheme from memory, so the filmmakers obviously wanted to strike a more bright and cheerful look (which kind of reminds me of the mall at Santa Monica). Of course, I've yet to find a mall with a champagne and caviar bar complete with a ballroom floor, but hey, I continue to look ...

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in widescreen 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The intended aspect ratio is 1.85:1, based on a 35mm film source. There is a thin black border surrounding the entire frame, however it should be invisible on overscanned displays.

    The overall look of the transfer can be regarded as "bright and cheerful." The film source is relatively clean, and grain is well under control.

    Detail levels are slightly above average and colour saturation is good, though not perfect. Only the beginning pan across the cityscape looks a bit hazy and dull, but I attribute that to smog.

    Compression artefacts are limited to very minor instances of Gibbs effect ringing. There is a fair amount of telecine wobble at the beginning of the film, but fortunately it settles down.

    There are a number of subtitle tracks on the disc: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish. It's hard to choose between the two English tracks. On one hand, the non-hearing impaired track is clearly more accurate, with far less dialogue simplification. However, the hearing impaired track has the odd transcription of non-dialogue sounds (like grunts and Foley effects). Both tracks transcribe background song lyrics.

    This is a single sided single layered disc.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on the disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).

    Despite the remastering to 5.1, this is a dialogue focused film. I did not really notice any significant stereo or surround effects, and the surround channels only contain the faintest of murmurs for background music.

    In particular, there were many wasted opportunities to create an enveloping feel to the soundtrack - traffic noises, mall ambience, and so on. I did not even notice any panning of vehicle effects. I suppose given the original soundtrack was released in Dolby Stereo I should not have expected anything.

    Dialogue is fairly clear, although I noticed some clipping distortion whilst Nick was talking on his car phone from about 12:45-13:11. I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

    The original music score is by Marc Shaiman and seems to be extremely forgettable, since I can't even recall it. Various Cole Porter and Christmas songs are featured in the soundtrack. The end titles are accompanied by Louis Armstrong singing Give Me Your Kisses (I'll Give You My Heart).

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

Extras

    There are no extras. The menus are 16x9 enhanced but static. They are available in several languages.

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 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    I would rate both versions as substantially identical.

Summary

    Scenes About A Mall is about a couple on a visit to the mall on their sixteenth wedding anniversary. It becomes an occasion for both of them to confide their secrets to one another, which will test the strength of their marriage to the utmost limits.

    The video transfer is above average.

    The audio transfer is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, February 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
a mall with a champagne bar and ballroom floor - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)