As Good as It Gets (1997)

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Released 3-Mar-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Audio Commentary-James L Brooks, Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, et al
Theatrical Trailer
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 133
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James L. Brooks
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jack Nicholson
Helen Hunt
Greg Kinnear
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Skeet Ulrich
Shirley Knight
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
French
Dutch
Arabic
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Both my wife and I quite disliked As Good As It Gets when we saw it theatrically. Neither of us found it all that believable that Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt or their characters could make any sort of couple, and I had a significant problem with Jack Nicholson's character developing a romantic interest in anyone at all, much less Helen Hunt's character.

    The second time around, I rather liked the movie. I found it much more believable, even though I started watching it with quite a closed mind, expecting to dislike it as much as I did the first time around. Jack Nicholson plays an obsessive compulsive romance novel writer named Melvin Udall. Amongst his obsessions is the fact that he eats breakfast at the same eatery every day, at the same table, with the same waitress, Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt). He also has a cleanliness obsession, and brings his own plastic cutlery with him to eat breakfast with.

    Melvin has a gay neighbour, Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear) who has a dog, Verdell (Jill). Melvin hates both his neighbour and his dog, and treats them both abominably.

    Carol has a son, who has asthma. One day, Carol is not at work because she is sick and worried about her son. This discomfits Melvin greatly, who arranges to have a private paediatrician visit them to take personal care of her son, at Melvin's expense, as long as she returns to work to wait on him.

    Here, the movie takes a turn towards romantic comedy, where Melvin, Carol and Simon take a road trip to Baltimore so that Simon can cajole his folks for money. Along the way, they all discover something about each other.

    I still think this movie is somewhat flawed as a romantic comedy because Melvin and Carol don't strike me as being suited to each other, but I will concede that this is a piece about the development of all three characters away from their initially severely dysfunctional selves.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Columbia Tristar have outdone themselves with this essentially flawless transfer. I had to look long and hard to find the slightest thing to complain about. This is another reference quality video transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear throughout, with the only trivial quibble being a small amount of grain in the initial few scenes, which disappeared forevermore after these scenes. Shadow detail was excellent, and no low level noise was apparent.

    The colours were perfectly rendered at all times, with never a hint of over or undersaturation.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a fraction of a second of minimal aliasing late in the movie on some venetian blinds in Melvin's apartment. Film artefacts were virtually non-existent.

    This disc is an RSDL disc. The layer change is placed at 66:22, between Chapters 16 and 17. It is moderately disruptive to the on-screen action, but not particularly so.

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and the English Audio Commentary track, encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to both the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and the Audio Commentary soundtrack. Because there is no Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track except for the commentary track, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is the default soundtrack.

    Dialogue was almost always clear and easy to understand, with only the odd word here and there hard to make out.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Hans Zimmer was appropriate but quite light on at times. Frequently, there is nothing but dialogue going on during this movie. This is not a problem, given the nature of this movie, being a dialogue and character driven piece of work.

     The surround channels were used lightly for music. Ambience was basically limited to rare occasions in the front channels only.

    The .1 channel didn't make a peep as far as I could tell.

Extras

    The Dolby Digital City trailer and DVCC splash are on this disc.

Menu

    The menu design is a standard Columbia Tristar menu. Functional, but plain. The menu is not 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary

    This track is presented as a Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded audio track, with the commentary voices mixed into the centre channel. Judging by the way the conversations go, this commentary track was recorded in several stages, with James L. Brooks, Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear at one sitting, and James L. BrooksHelen Hunt and others at another sitting, and later mixed together with snippets from other crew members, such as Richard Sakai (Producer) and Hans Zimmer (Music). Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt never refer to each other directly, but rather in the third person, which is what leads me to conclude that they were not at the same sitting.

    As a result, there are significant periods of silence within the audio commentary track, and there are some odd-sounding cuts between conversations. There is a section of the audio commentary track which sounds extremely distorted, from 28:30 to 29:00, and there is an audio dropout at 50:07. Jack Nicholson tends to mumble, as well.

    However, there is a significant amount of good information to be found in this commentary track, despite its somewhat disjointed feel. Because so many people contribute at one stage or another to the commentary track, there are a lot of different perspectives being offered on the movie. This is interesting in itself.

    Overall, this is not one of the best commentaries I have ever listened to, but neither is it one of the worst. It is certainly infinitely superior to having no commentary track at all.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented in the unusual aspect ratio of 1.66:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Filmographies

    This is an acceptably comprehensive list of the stars' and the director's film credits.

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 this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    There is nothing compelling here to favour one version over the other.

Summary

    Second time around, I enjoyed As Good As It Gets, though I could not see an Academy Award performance from either Jack Nicholson or Helen Hunt in this movie even though they both won Oscars for their roles. Worth owning.

    The video quality is reference quality.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    The extras are highlighted by a reasonably good audio commentary track.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Wednesday, March 24, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
NZHT - Damon B
DVD Net - Steve K
The Fourth Region - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
NZHT - Darren H

Comments (Add)
A must see, probably a must own -
Verdell -