Benny & Joon (1993)

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Released 5-Sep-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 94:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:07) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jeremiah Chechik
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Johnny Depp
Mary Stuart Masterson
Aidan Quinn
Case DV-4
RPI $36.95 Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded 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
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, During end Credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    I remember seeing Benny & Joon shortly after its theatrical release on VHS video in 1993. It's the sort of movie that you might have skipped over in the new release section of your local video store if there had been more on offer. But, when the selection for the night is bare, it's the sort of film you take home hoping it will be watchable and the wife (or girlfriend at the time I think) will not get the chance to say "why did you pick this rubbish?".

    About the only thing I really remembered about it was that it featured I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers as its opening theme song. This song had been released some 5 years earlier by the Scottish duo and had enjoyed only mild success in the US. After the song appeared in this film, it rocketed back up the charts (not sure if it hit number 1 but I think it got close).

    Aidan Quinn plays Benny, a mechanic who has looked after his mentally unstable sister Joon (short for Juniper - played by Mary Stuart Masterson) ever since their parents died. Joon likes to paint and also set things on fire around the house and as such must be supervised constantly. When their current housekeeper quits due to the strain of looking after the very difficult Joon, Benny must either leave her at home by herself or find a replacement. Meanwhile, Joon somehow gets to play cards for unusual stakes with the locals that Benny usually plays cards with and subsequently loses. The stakes include the 'ownership' of one of the player's cousins, who also just happens to be slightly unstable. Sam (played by Johnny Depp), is a bit of a misfit and clown, but moves in with Benny and Joon despite Benny's initial misgivings.

    Sam finds his way into the heart of Joon, but will Benny consent to the unlikely relationship when he is having troubles of his own with women? Seems that because he is always looking out for Joon, he never has had time to date or go out very much himself. Joon and Sam start to plot to find Benny the perfect match while trying to keep their relationship a secret.

    A simple story that does having a poignant touch to its telling, this should entertain anyone who is a fan of the romantic comedy genre.

    There is a small printing error on the slick. There are 16 chapters on the disc, though the inside cover only lists the first 14.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1 and features 16x9 enhancement. The disc is Auto Pan & Scan encoded.

     This is another quality disc from MGM in terms of the video transfer. The transfer is very, very sharp without any trace of edge enhancement. Shadow detail is also excellent with deep blacks and no loss of clarity on any of the darker scenes. There is no low level noise.

    Colours aren't exactly bright, but they are well rendered and present no problems in terms of bleeding or oversaturation.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present. Aliasing pops up on a couple of occasions. At 44:19, on Julianne Moore's dress, it is quite distracting and the the shimmer on the railway tracks at 78:24-78:29 is also very noticeable.

    The major downside to the transfer is the amount of film grain that is dominant throughout the transfer. It is probably about the most noticeable I have ever seen. The number of other film artefacts are quite small and this would be considered quite a clean transfer in terms of the usual white and blacks flecks and spots.

    There are eleven subtitle streams present. I sampled the English and English for the Hearing Impaired and found them to be highly accurate and very easy to read.

    The disc is presented as a single sided, dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change at 50:07 is noticeable but not overly disruptive. It's in the scene where Benny is visiting Doctor Garvey. Benny pauses noticeably.

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

Audio

    There are five Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks present on this DVD; English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. I listened to the English track. It's nothing spectacular, as you would expect from a 2 channel track for this type of film from this era. It does its job and that's all you can ask. The songs used throughout do deserve particular mention, as they are very well recorded and are quite prominent in the soundstage.

    Dialogue is clear at all times and there are no audio sync problems.

    The original score is by Rachel Portman. It is quirky and whimsical at times, and at others is quite poignant. There are several contemporary songs used throughout as well, the most obvious being the opening and closing credits number by The Proclaimers.

    There is no surround use. The subwoofer was likewise silent.

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

Extras

    The only extra we get is the original theatrical trailer.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in the theatrical aspect of 1.85:1 and pleasantly featuring 16x9 enhancement this is the original theatrical release trailer that runs for 1:57 minutes. Quite a nice trailer that doesn't spoil the plot and has the song In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel playing over it.

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 Disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 Disc misses out on:

    Our disc is sadly lacking in the extras department and as a result there is quite a significant difference here. The extras on the R1 disc make it a real collector's edition, especially the inclusion of the video from The Proclaimers - they did, after all, give hope to many of the dorky people in the world (like me)! What a great extra that would be. From the reports I can find, the quality of the image and audio is pretty much on par with the R4 copy. A clear win to the R1 disc in this case.

Summary

    Benny & Joon is a quirky romantic comedy that certainly won't appeal to all, but I found it to be at least a little different from the rest. It has laughs and some tender moments as well.

    The video transfer is pretty good and certainly above average for a film nearly ten years old. It is let down by excessive film grain. The audio is average and fairly limited. The extras are virtually non-existent.

    Oh, and by the way - the wife didn't think it was rubbish, either!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, November 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Region 1 Version - Details & Review. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)