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BEAUTIFUL GIRLS ($30) is an engaging and sometimes hilarious little comedy about a piano player that returns to his hometown to attend his 10-year high school reunion. Timothy Hutton portrays Willie, the piano player who hasn't met with much success as a musician in the big city. Not only has Willie returned home for his reunion, he hopes that a return to small town life will give him enough perspective to make some live altering choices about his career and marriage to his girlfriend.

With his visit home, Willie also discovers that his high school buddies haven't fared very well in the game of life either. Matt Dillon plays Tommy, a former jock, for whom high school was the pinnace of his existence. Trying to hold on to his glory days, Tommy is still involved with his very much married high school girlfriend Darian (Lauren Holly). Of course, Tommy’s new girlfriend Sharon (Mira Sorvino) is made to suffer for his selfishness. Even worse than Tommy is Paul (Michael Rapaport), who proves to be the most emotionally retarded of all Willie's high school friends. For seven years, Paul couldn't make a commitment to his girlfriend. Now that she has moved on, he finds himself unable to do the same.

Since I didn’t make it clear above, you should know that BEAUTIFUL GIRLS isn’t a star vehicle. Instead, this film is well-acted ensemble piece that shows off its a first rate cast. Uma Thurman is great as Andera, a really beautiful girl that stirs things up. Natalie Portman is delightful as Marty, a teenager who is wise beyond her years, and a lot wiser than most of the adults in the film. Rosie O'Donnell is hilarious as Gina, who philosophizes about men, women and relationships to anyone in earshot. The cast of BEAUTIFUL GIRLS also includes Noah Emmerich, Annabeth Gish, Max Perlich, Martha Plimpton, Pruitt Taylor Vince and David Arquette.

Miramax Home Entertainment has done a respectable job of transcribing BEAUTIFUL GIRLS to DVD. The film is offered in its proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, however the presentation lacks the 16:9 enhancement for wide screen televisions. Let me say up front, this transfer isn’t going to have anyone leaping in the air to extol the virtues of this DVD, but the presentation is serviceable. Sharpness and detail are pretty good, but they could have been better. There is some visible film grain, however it isn’t too bad. For the most part, colors reproduce with respectable saturation and good-looking flesh tones. However, there are moments where the colors appear a little drained. Digital compression artifacts offered no problem on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack decodes to standard surround, which is good enough for a dialogue driven movie. Everything is clean sounding, but channel separation is exceedingly limited. The simplistic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection feature, and allow on to turn on the English subtitles. BEAUTIFUL GIRLS may be a bare bones DVD, but the movie is definitely worth seeing.


Beautiful Girls (1996)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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