Picture Perfect (1997)

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Released 27-Mar-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 97:38
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Glenn Gordon Caron
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Illeana Douglas
Jay Mohr
Jennifer Aniston
Kevin Bacon
Kevin Dunn
Olympia Dukakis
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Carter Burwell
James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Picture Perfect was mostly promoted, and these days mostly remembered (or not), as the debut of Jennifer Aniston from the hit TV sitcom Friends in a full length motion picture. Apart from that, this romantic comedy doesn't really have that much to endear it by, although some original elements in the plot pokes through a sea of predictability every now and then.

    Many have criticised Jennifer Aniston for essentially reprising her "Rachel" character in this film, but I beg to differ. Although Jennifer has been playing variations of the Rachel character in just about every film she has acted in, to the point where I'm seriously starting to suspect it is her real personality, here her character is so self-centred, condescending, shallow, and downright mean-spirited for most parts of the film that I found it difficult to empathise with her. Hang on, maybe she is reprising "Rachel" after all ... :-)

    Kate Mosley (Jennifer Aniston) is a copywriter for Mercer Advertising. She knows exactly what she wants in her career as well as her love life, but she doesn't seem to be able to make any progress in obtaining either. On top of that, she has a pushy mother, Rita (Olympia Dukakis), who is constantly reminding her of her lack of progress.

    She has the hots for dashing advertising exec Sam Mayfair (Kevin Bacon), who incidentally has a very daggy hairstyle that must have looked passé even in the nineties, but he refuses to be involved as he considers her "too nice" and he only dates married/attached women (a fear of commitment, perhaps?).

    Promotion and recognition at work also seem to elude her, and she is not even included in the account team servicing a new client despite the fact that she was the one who came up with the marketing concept. The reason: big boss Mr. Mercer himself (Kevin Dunn) thinks that she doesn't "dress up" for the job she aspires to - both in terms of expensive clothes as well as lifestyle. To put it simply, he likes employees that are mortgaged to the hilt because they are then committed to the company and won't be looking around for other employment.

    Let's put aside the faulty logic of the above statement (if I was stuck in a low paying job with a huge mortgage I'd be even more tempted to shop around, but hey that's me), clearly Rachel, oops ... Kate, isn't going anywhere fast in terms of career or love life, through no fault of her own (apart from her attitude and lifestyle, that is).

    So, her close friend and work colleague Darcy O'Neil (Illeana Douglas) decides to do her a favour. She starts spreading a rumour that Kate is secretly engaged to handsome Nick (Jay Mohr) and distributes a photo of the two of them together. In reality, the photograph was taken at a recent wedding and they hardly even know each other.

    Bingo! Success at last! Mr. Mercer is now satisfied that Kate is the right stuff after all (he thinks Kate and Nick are currently shopping for a big expensive house) and immediately gives her a promotion. In addition, Sam is now magically attracted to the forbidden fruit and can't wait to seduce Kate away from her fiancé.

    If you think the above sounds rather far-fetched, well ... you'll just have to go with the flow. Incidentally, the film carries the sequence of events off rather well and convincingly - just as long as your brain remains in neutral.

    Just when things are starting to go well for Kate, Nick suddenly becomes famous when he does an unselfish good deed by saving someone's life in a fire. Now everyone wants to meet Nick... Kate manages to trace Nick in Massachusetts and concocts a sneaky scheme whereby she is willing to pay him to pretend to be her fiancé until they can stage a mock "fight" and "separate" - after which she will be left with a Perfect Life. The good-natured Nick is happy to oblige, but soon finds himself attracted to her and wishes that their pretend engagement was for real...

    So, how will it all end? Will Kate ever realise that Nick actually likes her? Will her plan actually succeed?

    The script is tight and well-executed, and surprisingly manages not to feel completely predictable. However, I am not sure I am completely comfortable with the basic premise that it's okay to lie in order to get what you want. The film does try to address the morality of the concept, but basically concludes by saying it's all harmless fun - I'm not sure I quite agree. It certainly makes it hard for me to identify with Kate as poor Nick seems to be getting a raw deal for most of the film. I certainly find it very hard to imagine exactly why Nick finds her so attractive, given her selfish attitude and myopic perspective. Maybe that is why the film did not do so well at the box office.

    For what it's worth, the film is a pretty damning indictment of the morality and shallowness of the kind of people who work in advertising, but I'm not sure whether that is intentional or not.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a rather pleasing and watchable 16x9 enhanced transfer, presented in the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    Although the overall look of the film is slightly soft, it's because no edge enhancement has been applied and that can only be a good thing. Detail levels are reasonable, and colour saturation is pretty close to being "spot on", although flesh tones have a tendency to veer towards the orange side.

    The film source is fairly clean, though has a very slight tendency every now and then to break into very minor grain, but never to the point of annoyance. MPEG artefacts are limited to very slight ringing around opening titles and minor pixelization in blurred background images.

    Overall, I would rate this a good transfer even though it is on a single sided single layered disc. There is an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track, as well as some Scandinavian subtitle tracks. The English subtitle track is reasonably accurate, although it does contract some lines of dialogue in order to fit into two text lines on the screen. It also names the titles of background sounds and provides translations of the lyrics (including the lyrics to the song played over the closing titles). It will also indicate which character is uttering a particular dialogue line if the character is off-screen.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track (in English) on this disc, in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the lower transfer bitrate of 384Kb/s.

    The soundtrack might as well have been in Dolby Digital 2.0, because I did not hear much from the rear speakers, and the subwoofer got really sleepy about 30 minutes into the film and went to sleep and didn't bother to wake up for the rest of the film.

    The film is very dialogue-oriented, and therefore front & centre focused. Although the audio track was pleasant enough to listen to, it sounded somewhat harsh and insubstantial compared to recent films and some of the lines of dialogue were fairly difficult to catch.

    The background music consisted of selections from various pop songs of the era and has obviously been chosen very carefully as the lyrics always seemed to comment on and reflect on what was happening on-screen.

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

Extras

    This is a bare bones disc with no extras apart from a theatrical trailer.

Menu

    Static but 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:28)

    This is pan & scan and accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

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 say Region 4 wins due to the 16x9 enhancement, though it would have been even nicer if we could have had more extras.

Summary

    Picture Perfect was supposed to be the film-goer's perfect introduction to Jennifer Aniston. The plot is tight and well executed, but somehow I wasn't quite comfortable with the basic premise of the story. The video transfer is above average, but the audio transfer is somewhat mediocre. Extras are limited to a theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, April 05, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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