Three Men And A Little Lady


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Details At A Glance

General
Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1990 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 99:28 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (66:28)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Emile Ardolino
Studio
Distributor
Touchstone Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Selleck
Steve Guttenberg
Ted Danson
Nancy Travis 
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music James Newton Howard

 
Video
Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan and Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 2.0 
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?1.85:1
Miscellaneous
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

The Rant

    Okay, I am really getting tired of this sort of garbage, so I am going to gather all of the rants about this abomination of a release into one section. If you don't have any desire to read the ravings of a reviewer who has finally sat down and watched one too many non-consumer friendly (or is it consumer non-friendly?) releases from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, then I humbly suggest that you page down to the Plot Synopsis heading.

    First up, we have proudly emblazoned on the rear cover of this effort a little television logo stating Regular 1.85:1, right next door to a box that says "This film is presented in a letterbox format preserving the scope aspect of its original theatrical exhibition. The black bars at the top and bottom are normal for this format. Suitable for all TV screens". So where do we start with this completely blatant piece of false advertising? For a start off, what exactly is a Regular 1.85:1 release? Well, everybody except it would seem the morons at Buena Vista Home Entertainment know this idiotically-styled format as Full Screen, or more correctly I suppose 1.33:1 Pan and Scan format. Yes folks, quite possibly in the hopes that people will be fooled into thinking they are buying a widescreen release (after all 1.85:1 can mean little else right?), we have been roundly stiffed and been given a Pan and Scan transfer here. Now to suggest that Pan and Scan is preserving the original scope of the film's theatrical release clearly is false, as is the reference to letterbox format, with black bars on top and bottom. When I saw the film in the cinema, many years ago it is admitted, it definitely seemed to be at a ratio of greater than 1.33:1 - in fact it looked deceptively like 1.85:1. So really what we have here is a blatantly misleading blurb that is clearly designed to make you think that you are getting a widescreen release, when in fact you are not. I think that this time I will be sending this off to the relevant authorities for investigation. (Ed. This has been partially addressed by Buena Vista. The current slick indicates a 1.33:1 FullScreen aspect ratio, but then also claims it is a 16:9 transfer. Close but no cigar.)

    Secondly, once again we have a complete absence of any extras, or rather special features, on offer. Now before you jump up and down, I doubt that too many in Australia would consider the magnificent choice of interactive menus and scene access as constituting Special Features. How can they be special when they are on pretty much every damn DVD made? They are a standard of the format in my view, and in any case surely having both listed is a tad redundant? After all, in this instance the only things that you can do with the menu is play the film, choose from a (limited) language listing, choose a single selection of subtitles to be either on or off, or directly select a scene. This hardly constitutes interactive menus to my mind, but maybe I am just expecting too much here. And whilst I am at it, how do three language options and one subtitle option constitute special features? Surely one language has to be standard, unless it is a silent film - and even then there would presumably be a musical accompaniment for one soundtrack anyway. And one subtitle is not a special feature - ten subtitles maybe, but not one, and even then you would be pushing it in my view. Sorry, but languages and subtitles to me are not Special Features but standard features.

    Thirdly, those magnificent things called chapters, that allow you to jump to your favourite scenes in a movie (remember the promotional blurb for DVD?). Well, how many would you expect to see in a film of just over 99 minutes? Twenty, twenty five maybe? Well, Buena Vista Home Entertainment have excelled themselves here with a grand total of...... nine! Nine chapters for a film of 99 minutes in length - to save you the maths, an average of eleven minutes per chapter. Talk about jumping to your favourite scene ... not! They really have to be kidding - just nine chapters in the whole film, and remember one of those is for the end credits which covers just the last five minutes of the DVD. Unbelievable.

    Fourthly, does anyone ever really give any consideration to where layer changes are placed? Buena Vista Home Entertainment don't seem to. The break in this film means the film is given an effectively 67:33 ratio, which means 67% of the film is on one level and 33% on the other. Yet this is achieved by a very poor layer change placement. This film presents a very good natural place for the layer change at around the 44:00 mark in a black scene change, which would have been completely unnoticeable, completely non-disruptive and still give a nice a nice balance to the ratio of the film - 55% on one level and 45% on the other. Why is something that is apparently so obvious completely missed by the gurus? Or am I being far too simplistic in my approach to layer changes?

    And finally, just why have we got the infinitely poorer sequel rather than the original film first? Is it expecting too much that we get the better option first? And why continue to give us mediocre efforts such as this when far more enjoyable, and indeed important, efforts that really would move in seriously sized numbers remain unreleased?

    Really, this whole package smacks of a definite buy it or lump it approach from Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Since that seems to be their attitude, I am here to beg you all to avoid this DVD at all costs. If enough of these things sit on the shelf unpurchased then perhaps Buena Vista Home Entertainment will eventually get the message. After all, there are plenty of good titles coming out in the same price range, so that we no longer have to accept anything, no matter what. Vote with your wallets people, and even better, maybe send a letter to Buena Vista Home Entertainment and tell them why you have not bought this latest sub-standard offering from them. Sorry for taking your time, but I really have had enough of this sort of sub-standard rubbish.

Plot Synopsis

    So onto the film itself. Made five years after Three Men and A Baby, this really is set about five years after too. The male triumvirate of Peter (Tom Selleck), Michael (Steve Guttenberg) and Jack (Ted Danson) are still enjoying their completely platonic relationship with the beautiful Sylvia (Nancy Travis) in New York, whilst helping in the raising of her young daughter Mary (Robin Weisman) - Jack's biological daughter from a night of passion. Sylvia, a normal healthy woman, is getting rather annoyed by the lack of action in this somewhat warped family relationship, especially from Peter whom she loves. The problem is that Peter is incapable of expressing his true feelings of love for Nancy to her face, so in a fit of mother-induced idiocy she agrees to marry Edward (Christopher Cazenove), the director of her current play. A marriage is hastily arranged in England, to where Nancy and Mary head, much to the loss of all, especially Peter. They eventually decide to go to England for the wedding where Peter is finally given the kick up the rear end he needs to confess his feelings to Nancy, and she to he, and everyone lives happily ever after. Excuse me whilst I go and vomit.

    I mean, how believable is a story based around the premise of three supposedly good looking, healthy hetero bachelors living in a completely platonic relationship with a beautiful, healthy, hetero woman? I mean give me a break. This is a very typical Disney piece of totally saccharine coated candy that is soooo sickly sweet that it ends up being totally unpalatable. I am actually staggered that someone has actually owned up to writing this piece of unnatural sugary sweet stuff. So if the story is not much to worry about, what about the acting? Well, you know how bad this is when the highlight is Robin Weisman - although to be fair just about anyone could upstage the lamentably untalented Steve Guttenberg. When you read the litany of absolute dross in his filmography (which of course does not appear on the DVD), you are truly humbled by the knowledge that yes, there is really someone even less talented than you or I who has made a reasonably successful career of sorts in Hollywood, and possibly a reasonably wealthy one too. The only thing that saves Steve Guttenberg from the list of the most non-talented actors around is the fact that he seems to know it and accepts it - the guys who do make that list seem to think that they can actually act. About the only thing that Ted Danson has ever done that is watchable is the famed television series Cheers, so there really is no letdown in his non-performance here. The surprise though is Tom Selleck - whilst he has never really risen to any great heights in my view, at least on a couple of occasions he has at least managed creditable B grade efforts. This is not one of them really, although he is the best of a bad bunch of lead actors here. Nancy Travis is hardly the greatest actress around but she has made a couple of reasonably decent films that I enjoy - most notably So I Married An Axe Murderer. She is decent enough here and at least well outshines the male leads. The direction of Emile Ardolino is nothing to write home about, and really it seems like he was following the formulaic approach dictated by Disney as opposed to bringing any fresh insights to this rather banal tale.

    All of the foregoing suggests that there are really good reasons for avoiding this film: and there is except for a couple of minor points that actually involve some rather funny moments. After all, this film does contain the great party-stopping scene when Peter sticks on the tape of Ernie from Sesame Street singing Rubber Duckie! That always makes me laugh for some reason. The other highlight is the totally matter-of-fact way that Peter addresses Mary's question of do you have a penis and what is it? But you would hardly fork out money for a DVD just for two minutes of classic comedy, especially when there are much funnier, and much better presented DVDs out there in the marketplace. I would suspect that even fans of the male leads would be hard-pressed to indulge in this piece of mediocrity.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This rather lacklustre transfer is presented in a blighted Pan and Scan format that is obviously not 16x9 enhanced. If you want a good definition of average when describing DVD transfers, this would be it. At no time does this offer any sort of quality and it is dogged by a rather flattish looking image with very little at all in the way of really solid definition. Indeed on occasions this descends into a very distinctly fuzzy look. It is not an especially clear transfer either and there seems to be a consistent problem with what seems like grain throughout the film. Shadow detail was not especially great throughout the transfer, but thankfully there did not seem to be any great problems with low level noise.

    The flattish feel of the transfer is also highlighted by a curiously lacklustre palette. This is especially noticeable in the lack of any vibrancy in the greens in the transfer. Trees and lawns that really should jump out at you with their vibrancy are just so muted that they are noted because of it. The whole transfer just seems underdone as far as saturation of the colours are concerned, and at times is so bad that there is a lack of distinction between foreground colours and background colours. Still, at least the transfer is consistent in this regard. There is obviously no hint of oversaturation at all, and little indication anywhere of colour bleed.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer at all. There were some instances of aliasing in the transfer, most notable in the ties worn by Edward for the wedding scenes which display a nice lack of solidity in the patterns. It is really not too noticeable though, and certainly does not detract from this lacklustre transfer. Film artefacts were quite a problem throughout the transfer but none were really distracting, just noticeable.

    This is an RSDL format disc with the layer change coming at 66:28. This is not a good placement at all, resulting in a very unnatural extended shot of Peter that is entirely noticeable and rather disruptive to the film.

    This really is your definitive lacklustre DVD transfer in just about every respect.

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2..0 surround encoded efforts apparently: English, French and Italian. I listened to the English default whilst very briefly sampling the other two soundtracks - made difficult by the usual Buena Vista problem of languages only being selectable from the main menu, and not on the fly via the remote.

    There were a couple of instances during the film where the dialogue was quite difficult to hear and understand, but this is more a film problem than a transfer problem. These were quite brief and not too disruptive to the film. There did not appear to be any problems at all with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original music score comes from James Newton Howard, one of the better ones from the crop of modern film composers. Whilst this is not an overly distinctive effort, it is nonetheless quite decent and does a nice job of supporting the film.

    Whilst the soundtracks are apparently surround encoded, you would really be hard-pressed to notice it and this really seems to lack any sort of surround support. The overall sound is quite frontal, and I suppose is quite a natural sounding effort given that this is an entirely dialogue driven film. Accordingly, the lack of bass channel support is not noticed. Overall, this is a decidedly average sounding soundtrack that really has not much wrong with it, but lacks any sort of distinction about it.

Extras

    Extra - adj., 1. being more than what is usual or expected; additional 2. a person or thing that is additional 3. something for which an extra charge is made. Aha! There is the problem. This is a standard priced disc and therefore no additional charge is levied, therefore no additional materials are included. Nice theory I suppose except their premium priced product also seems to dip out on extras.

Menu

R4 vs R1

    Well no matter how bad this effort might be it is still infinitely better than Region 1 since they do not yet have this DVD.

Summary

    A mediocre film on a decidedly sub-standard DVD. Avoid.

    A lacklustre video transfer.

    An unmemorable audio transfer.

    A non-existent disappointing extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras  
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
15th June 2000

Review Equipment
   
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL