Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 97:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gus Van Sant

Starring Matt Dillon
Kelly Lynch
James LeGros
Heather Graham
Eric Hull
Max Perlich
James Remar
John Kelly
Grace Zabriskie
George Catalano
Janet Baumhover
Ted D'Arms
Neal Thomas
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Elliot Goldenthal

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)
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 for the Hearing Impaired
German 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

    Quite by accident I was introduced to the directorial work of Gus van Sant in a kind of reverse chronological order - first enjoying the well crafted, emotionally rewarding but comparatively mainstream coming of age dramas Finding Forrester and the much lauded Good Will Hunting, which launched two actors' careers - one for which I am thankful, the other not so much. It wasn't until some time later that I had the opportunity to enjoy the juicy satire of To Die For, which won Nicole Kidman her first Golden Globe, the intriguing My Own Private Idaho and the director's first major work, Drugstore Cowboy. Sandwiched in there is a certain remake of a classic which, to borrow from J. K. Rowling, is 'that which must not ever be named, or seen, or spoken of...' and more recently audiences have been able to witness the inexplicable horror of the Columbine High School tragedy in van Sant's chillingly realistic Elephant. He is undoubtedly one of American's most eclectic directors, and this film from 1989 certainly has the look and feel of an original thinker and craftsman.

    Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch play husband and wife drug addicts living in the northwestern reaches of the United States circa 1971, whose lives, and those of their devoted friends (Heather Graham and James Le Gros) revolve entirely around the pills and paraphernalia they are able to relieve local pharmacies of. Unlike later films about drugs, however (Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream and the latter stages of Steven Soderbergh's Traffic spring to mind), the audience isn't dragged into complete despair nor made too aware of the moral issues involved. Van Sant likes his characters and spends time with them, allowing us to see them as flawed but honest, never preaching to us nor manipulating our emotional responses to their behaviour. The film and its characters have a 'take it or leave it' mentality that is low key and unobtrusive. After their criminal activity places a little too much heat on the group they hit the road and the film follows their journey through a free-spirited USA, trailed by a dedicated copper intent on breaking their little racket. Life choices present themselves as the story builds to its end, and thankfully, the resolution is free of preaching or cheap emotional payoffs.

    Drugstore Cowboy is an indie fully deserving of a wide and open-minded audience.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is certainly not spectacular but accomplishes its job satisfactorily. It is presented at its accurate aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with 16x9 enhancement.

    Sharpness levels are acceptable although not terrific, and shadow detail, whilst suffering too much at times, is reasonable.

    Colours are a little inconsistent, with some blurring. The palette is not particularly adventurous.

    The transfer does suffer from intermittent grain, but considering the age and budget of the film, I was not overly concerned.

    Film to video artefacts are occasional, with some aliasing interfering at times. Compression artefacts are something of a concern at times, too.

    The print is relatively clean, although I thought there was a little too much dirt hanging around.

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


    The audio tracks on the disc are undemonstrative and dialogue-driven, which perfectly suits the film. We get a total of four tracks - one Dolby 2.0 English track and three dubs in German, Spanish and French, all in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. Audio sync is excellent.

    There were no detectable dropouts or blemishes.

    The music in the film is a terrific collection of 70s hits - sure to be a winner amongst many aficionados of one of the greatest decades in popular music.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are basically silent throughout, but they are not missed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The lone extra is a fairly poorly presented theatrical trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

    Disappointing! Compared to the Region 1 release, we miss out on:


    Drugstore Cowboy is a terrifically off-beat film.

    The video transfer is acceptable.

    The audio is unremarkable but suits the film well.

    The lack of extras is disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Friday, February 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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