Baby Boom (1987)

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Released 7-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 105:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Charles Shyer
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Diane Keaton
Sam Shepard
Harold Ramis
Kristina Kennedy
Michelle Kennedy
Sam Wanamaker
James Spader
Pat Hingle
Britt Leach
Linda Ellerbee
Kim Sebastian
Mary Gross
Patricia Estrin
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Bill Conti


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Danish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, - Huggies for baby Elizabeth.
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Those of you who were around in 1987 may remember a film called Wall Street telling us that "Greed is Good". Baby Boom, coincidentally also made in 1987, starts off with a similar view on the world, depicting the life of a driven female executive working 70-80 hours per week and loving it. During the film her life changes and we follow along with her as she finds more to life than work, and even a little romance. From the contrasting viewpoints of these two films it seems we haven't come very far nowadays in coming to terms with work-life balance.

    Early in the film we meet J C Waitt (a pleasing performance from Diane Keaton) who earns "6 figures a year" and is known around the office as 'The Tiger Lady'. As she says to her boss, we "eat, sleep and dream our work", a statement that is borne out when we view the sterile relationship she has with her live-in boyfriend (Harold Ramis). Their life is thrown upside down when J C finds she has been made legal guardian for the young baby daughter of a distant cousin who has died unexpectedly.

    At first J C decides to place young baby Elizabeth up for adoption but has trouble dealing with her guilty feelings. She soon relents and decides to try and juggle a job and a family. As you might have guessed the inevitable chaos ensues and she soon loses her boyfriend. At work her sleazy deputy is also making life difficult (James Spader in another nicely judged performance). Unable to find a workable balance she leaves her work behind and tries to move to the country for a more relaxing life, but winter in Vermont is hard to deal with for a city girl. Luckily Sam Shepard is on hand to help her recover the balance missing from her life.

    This film is not going to win any Oscars for originality, but I had pleasant enough memories of it from when my wife and I watched it back in the 80s. The second time around it is still a nice way to spend a couple of hours, with a good mix of comedy and romance. I'm not sure how it is described on the DVD box, but a note accompanying my review copy called it "riotous" - don't believe it! At times it borders on being a little preachy, but thankfully these moments are few and far between. The film was enough of a success at the time to lead to a short lived sitcom starring Kate Jackson (with Sam Wanamaker reprising his role as J C's boss). This is one to watch in a cozy room with a friend, and is worth a rental or possible purchase if you like the stars and find it in the bargain bin.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer on this DVD is very disappointing. At times I felt as if I was watching a VHS tape. The only plus is that this is the first time I have seen the film in widescreen format since its cinema run.

    The film is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 which is its original production ratio. It is not 16x9 enhanced which is a major disappointment given the rather poor quality offered.

    The transfer displays very soft focus, at times looking almost foggy (see 37:40 as an example) with poor shadow detail (as at 8:17) and some low level noise. The overall effect is that the print looks rather dull, even in daytime shots. It looks better on a smaller screen, but if your equipment is over 80cm or so you will be unhappy with what you have on offer here.

    Colours are generally muted, though the autumn leaves in Vermont (at 55:55) look quite nice. Skin tones are reasonable though they can vary in colour at times.

    The print looks to be in reasonable physical condition, with only the occasional fleck to be seen, though there is some grain about as well (probably from the lack of 16x9 enhancement). Minor aliasing can be seen on the check shirts the country folk favour and there is some telecine wobble during the closing credits.

    I watched the 'English: Hard of Hearing' subtitles extensively and found them to be pretty good. Audio cues are frequent, and the meaning of the dialogue is retained (if not literally). As often happens, I would have liked to see an indication of change of mood in the music. There are nine subtitle tracks in all, which fall off the bottom of the viewable area if you zoom the screen to full size on widescreen equipment.

    There is a short layer change at 54:18.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is generally better than the video transfer (which is not too difficult this time around).

    There are 5 audio tracks, all of them Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo tracks encoded at bitrates of 192 Kb/s. I listened to the English track and segments of the Italian. You can also choose German, French or Spanish. The Italian track is recorded at a good level but sounds a bit like an old Steve Reeves sand and sandals epic.

    This film is primarily dialogue driven and benefits from good clear dialogue and excellent audio sync.

    The music by movie veteran Bill Conti is nicely judged, and supports the mood of the film nicely. The volume of the music is also nicely matched to the dialogue.

    There is limited surround activity, though this is not really a problem given the nature of the film. I tried listening in ProLogic mode which spread a little music to the rear speakers, but it did not affect the overall ambience. The music is nice and full across the front of the screen and the dialogue is well placed. As this is a 2.0 track there is of course no LFE channel, but the bass adds a little support to the music at times.

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

Extras

    We have a trailer.

Menu

    The menu is static with no audio and from it you can Play the movie, choose Scene Selections (16 on offer), go to Language Options or play the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Theatrical Trailer

    This runs for 1:57 and is presented at an aspect ratio of around 1.85:1, non 16x9 enhanced. It actually looks better than the main feature, which is rather unusual (it is much sharper in focus with better colour). I found it a rather amusing introduction to the film, and it is well worth a look.

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 version of the film is essentially similar to the Region 4, and apparently suffers from extensive edge enhancement (perhaps they tried too hard to overcome the fuzzy picture?). The Region 2 appears to be 16x9 enhanced, and reviews I have seen suggest the picture is quite good, so that it may well be the preferred version

Summary

    This is a pleasant comedy, with a touch of romance thrown in, which is available at mid price. Unfortunately the poor picture means it cannot be wholly recommended, and it is another recent MGM release I have seen without 16x9 enhancement, a disturbing trend. The audio quality is fair, but again the lack of extras stands out, so that this looks a rental at best, unless you really like the film and find it in a bargain bin around the $10 mark.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

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