Paradise (1991)

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Released 18-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 106:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mary Agnes Donoghue

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Melanie Griffith
Don Johnson
Elijah Wood
Thora Birch
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music David Newman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
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
French Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes, quite a lot
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Paradise, as a film, is probably of most interest with respect to its cast. Hands up those of you who remember Don Johnson (TV show Miami Vice) - all suntan and Armani suits with the sleeves rolled up? Two points for anyone who can remember Melanie Griffith (now Mrs Banderas - formerly Mrs Johnson (twice in fact) and credible star in Working Girl) in the days before her lips resembled an impromptu collision between a zeppelin and a steamroller? To balance out the cast of has-beens we have two will-bes thrown into the mix. The (still) diminutive Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings trilogy) and the soon-to-become very attractive Thora Birch (American Beauty) appear in major roles as the cute kids of this sentimental saga.

    Paradise is somewhat of a chick-flick, and whilst I found it bearable (just), my wife rather enjoyed its syrupy mix of troubled marriages, loss, blossoming friendships and of course, the ultimate redemption of everyone involved. Wood plays Willard Young, a ten year-old boy who has been sent to the countryside to live with his mother's friend while she stays at home to deliver her new baby. Willard is under the misunderstanding that his father is away on "sea duty" - in actual fact he has left his wife for another woman. Birch, as Billie Pike, is the rough-and-tumble nine year-old girl who lives next door to Willard's temporary family. The two form a fast friendship over the course of his stay in the small, shrimp-fishing hamlet of Paradise.

    Willard is hosted by the Reed family - Lily (Griffith) and Ben (Johnson) - who are living in a state of emotional permafrost. Willard discovers that the iciness of the Reed's once loving relationship was caused by the death of their three year-old son a couple of years back. Over the course of the movie, each of the characters undergoes a change as Willard's presence sparks a chain of events which will make each of them come to realise what is truly important in their lives.

    Paradise is not much of a movie to be honest. Whilst the acting is of a reasonable standard overall (Griffith reminds us that she can actually act), Wood and Birch occasionally struggle with the scale of their roles and deliver sometimes cloying, sometimes wooden performances. The dialogue is occasionally rather clunky (Hey! I'm here. I exist...") and frequently unbelievable as far as the kids are concerned. At times it's like these young 'uns are Dawson and Joey filmed ten years before Dawson's Creek. There is little truly innovative in the plot department, and the ending is in little doubt after the first reel has run its course. The tear-jerking intentions of the film are obvious, but it fails to deliver ninety per-cent of the time. Some of the cinematography is rather fetching, thanks mainly to the beautiful landscapes of South Carolina, but that doesn't really make up for the overwrought storyline. Nevertheless, as a purchase from the bargain bin or as a weekly rental this may provide some lightweight entertainment - possibly slanted towards those of a female persuasion.

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

Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is quite acceptable.

    The film is presented 16x9 enhanced in a ratio of 1.85:1, which is the original aspect ratio. There is little in the way of significant grain to spoil the transfer and it appears satisfyingly sharp throughout. Black levels are fairly deep with no major low level noise present. Shadow detail, whilst not being breathtaking, is adequate.

    Colours are quite solidly rendered but the weather tends towards the gloomy which gives a slightly subdued feel to much of the palette. Skin tones look natural enough - other than the "I've just overdosed on beta carotene" tan of Don Johnson.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts present. Edge enhancement is visible throughout, and on a larger projected image strays close to becoming mildly distracting at times. There is a bright halo around the characters for much of the movie. On my setup, aliasing was not an issue.

    There are quite a few film artefacts present - both positive and negative. They are not sizeable enough to be truly annoying however.

    There are both English, and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles available. I sampled both, and they seem to do a good job in either incarnation - being fairly accurate and with only minor edits. The latter subtitles offer some additional audio cues.

    The disc is in a single sided and dual layered RSDL format, with the layer change passing unnoticed at a scene change at 69:24.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is acceptable but unremarkable.

    The sole English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at a lowly 192 kbps. The surround flag is not enabled. It is free from major defects with no clicks, pops or hiss noted. Dialogue was always clear and audio sync was just fine throughout.

    Original music is credited to David Newman whose other main offerings include Heathers, War of the Roses, The Flintstones and Ice Age. This score serves its purpose dutifully, with appropriately melancholy strings passages and more jaunty interludes for the kids' bonding escapades. It will not make you rush out to source the soundtrack, but is unlikely to cause any offence either.

    The soundstage is of course totally frontal. There is some simple stereo separation between the main speakers, but nothing to write home about. With Pro Logic II enabled your effects speakers will see some light use, but there is little beyond some simple redirection of ambient effects. This is a dialogue/character driven film, so the lack of a significant surround presence is not overly missed.

    Depending on your bass management and Pro Logic status, the subwoofer may carry some minor bass activity, but nothing of note.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on offer.


    The main menu is a static photo of the main protagonists, with a loop of the orchestral score in the background. It allows the purely functional options of playing the feature, selecting one of twelve chapter stops, selecting languages or activating subtitles.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what little information I can garner, the Region 1 release appears similar to our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.


    Paradise is an unsurprising film which holds most interest in the early performances of Thora Birch and Elijah Wood. This is a tale of the impact that ten year-old Willard Young has on the fractured marriage of Ben and Lily Reed when he spends the summer at their home. The coming-of-age aspect allows for some cutesy interaction between Birch and Wood, but there is little here to lift this wannabe tear-jerker above the mundane. Worth a rental for fans of the stars or those who are easily brought to tears.

    The video quality is reasonable, with the main limitation being edge enhancement.

    The audio transfer is rather uninspiring, but solid enough.

    There are no extras present.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Friday, September 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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