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VOLUNTEERS ($25) takes me back to the good old days, before Tom Hanks was an Academy Award winning movie star, back to a simpler time, when all Hanks did was try and make people laugh. Yes, VOLUNTEERS is from those glory days of BOSOM BUDDIES and BACHELOR PARTY. Sure, BACHELOR PARTY is an unmitigated piece of trash, but it is the kind of rude and hilarious comedy classic that I never grow tired of watching. Of course, VOLUNTEERS is nowhere as funny as BACHELOR PARTY, but the film is still rude and politically incorrect enough to be fun. In VOLUNTEERS, Hanks portrays a snobby rich boy named Lawrence Bourne III. Unfortunately, Lawrence’s graduation from Yale coincides with his accumulation of a $28,000.00 gambling debt. Lawrence expects his wealthy father to bail him out, but the old man decides to teach Lawrence the one lesson that he could never learn in an Ivy League school, so his father refuses to give him the money.

With the bookie’s collection man on his tail, Lawrence ends up learning a lesson in self-reliance the hard way- stowing away on a Peace Corps plane bound for Thailand. Once in Thailand, Lawrence tries to leave the Peace Corps because he is unqualified, but he discovers that his father pulled a few strings to make sure that he learns his lesson. Finding himself stuck in a small jungle village with two other volunteers, the gung-ho Tom Tuttle (John Candy) and the beautiful Beth Wexler (Rita Wilson), Lawrence tries to make the best of a bad situation. As soon as Lawrence begins settling into his assignment of helping the villagers to build a wooden bridge across a river, the situation is suddenly complicated by the arrivals of a drug lord, communist guerillas and the CIA. VOLUNTEERS is the typical fish out of water story, sprinkled with tasteless jokes, a bit of romance and the kind of hilarious shenanigans one expected from Tom Hanks and John Candy back in 1985. The cast of VOLUNTEERS also includes Tim Thomerson, Gedde Watanabe, George Plimpton, Ernest Harada, Allan Arbus and Xander Berkeley.

HBO Home Video has done a rather nice job with their DVD edition of VOLUNTEERS. Not only is the movie properly framed at 1.85:1, the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is very pleasing, rendering a sharp and nicely defined image. Film grain is occasionally noticeable, but is never distracting. Colors aren’t as highly saturated as a new movie, but they do hold their own. There are no problems with chroma noise or smearing of the more deeply saturated hues. Blacks are solid and the image reproduces a good level of shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts are well disguised by competent DVD authoring.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack produces respectable stereo sound. Dialogue is clean and always intelligible, while James Horner’s score is reproduced with a nice musical quality. Subtitles are encoded onto the DVD in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus are basic, providing the expected access to the scene selection and set up features. Supplements include a theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies, which are also accessible through the menu system.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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