Presented in an anamorphically enhanced transfer in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Fox’s Brown Sugar looks pretty good, although it does leave a little room for improvement. Fox includes a fullscreen version of the film for those so inclined, but for purposes of my review, I’ll only cover the widescreen version.
The film contains a very warm and earthy palette and Fox has done a pretty good job of portraying the down-to-earth hues quite well. The fall colors that permeate the film look quite inviting and everything seemed properly balanced and contrasted without any smearing or oversaturation noted. Fleshtones were accurate and natural throughout, although black levels weren’t as deep and defined as I would have expected. During some nighttime scenes or scenes shot in dark interiors, there was a bit of breakup and murkiness seen on the print and while shadow detail and delineation were solid, some grain on the transfer caused things to go a bit soft on a couple of occasions. I did notice a couple of specks on the print, but flaws were few and far between and definitely of the non-distracting variety.
Again, Brown Sugar looks quite nice and fans of the film won’t be disappointed with the end result. However, Fox left a little on the field here and didn’t quite bring the film up to its exceptionally high standards of quality. However, given the theatrical take for the film, it’s quite understandable.
Fox gives Brown Sugar a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is appropriate for the material at hand, but somewhat surprising considering all of the hip-hop music used in the film. Being a romantic comedy at heart, the film’s transfer is very forward spectrum heavy and contained nice separation and localization in the front surrounds. Dialogue remained front and center throughout the film and there were never any problems understanding what was being said at any time. There were some occasions where the soundtrack ever so slightly drowned out some of the dialogue, but never to a point where intelligibility suffered completely. Effects were minimal and non-descript, although natural and the film’s soundtrack received nice dynamic range and fidelity and utilized your rear surrounds quite nicely on occasion.
Fox has also added a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in French, English and Spanish subtitles, and English Closed Captions.
Fox throws a few supplements at viewers for Brown Sugar, with the most notable being the Audio Commentary with director Rick Famuyiwa and editor Dirk Westervelt. The commentary is rather laborious to get through as Famuyiwa has been blessed with one of the more monotone voices I’ve heard on a commentary in quite some time. While I’m sure he’s a great guy to work for or go out and have a beer with, he’s not particularly entertaining in Fox’s feature length commentary. He and Westervelt offer up some interesting stories from behind-the-scenes and what it was like shooting the film, but there’s not a whole lot here you haven’t heard before. It also doesn’t help that there are some rather lengthy spots in the track where absolutely nothing is said and it becomes really easy to lose interest altogether. DVD aficionados won’t find much to keep them engaged, although hard-core fans of Brown Sugar might want to give this one a listen.
Deleted Scenes follow and here we get four deleted scenes from the film with optional commentary from director Rick Famuyiwa and editor Dirk Westervelt. The scenes included are “Method Man” (1:47), “Poppin’ in the Park” (2:03), “Cup of Sex” (1:06), and “Francine’s Advice” (1:02). The scenes, as well as the commentary, are a nice addition to the set and the duo does a good job of explaining why these particular scenes weren’t able to make it in the final cut. The scenes are presented in widescreen and Dolby Digital 2.0.
An Antwone Fisher Trailer finished off the extras … but wait … in a ridiculously maddening move, Fox has added other supplements on the other side of the disc rather than duplicating them on both sides. (A freakin’ extras flipper for a film that runs less than 2-hours and a DVD that contains hardly any extras?!?) You have got to be kidding …
Along with the fullscreen version of the film, on the second side of the Brown Sugar DVD, we find a couple of Music Videos - one with Erykah Badu Featuring Common: “Love of my Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)” and the other being Mos Def Featuting Faith Evans: “Brown Sugar (Extra Sweet)”.
The disc ends with a Promo Spot for the soundtrack and a Theatrical Trailer for the film.
While this isn’t a great set of supplements by any stretch, considering the box-office take for the feature, it’s an acceptable amount. Fans of the film should enjoy the deleted scenes and the commentary, but will more than likely find themselves wanting just a little bit more.
Brown Sugar is one of those films that falls squarely in the middle – it’s not a bad film by any stretch, but it doesn’t do anything to set itself apart either – it’s just one of those romantic comedies that you watch, you enjoy, and then you move on. However, Fox’s DVD provides fans with a couple of decent extras to supplement the film and the A/V specs are solid enough that there’s not much to complain about. If you saw the film in theaters and enjoyed it, by all means, pick a copy up when it streets – however, all others should pick it up as a weekend rental first.