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Alan Parker
Johnny Simmons, Paul Giamatti, Ethan Hawke
Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Roddy Doyle

When Jimmy Rabbitte wants to start a band, he has open auditions at his house.
Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 8/30/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Alan Parker
• “25 Years Later” Featurette
• “The Making of Alan Parker’s Film The Commitments” Featurette
• “Looking Back” Featurette
• “Dublin Soul” Featurette
• “The Making of The Commitments” Featurette
• Music Video
• Still Galleries


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Commitments [Blu-Ray] (1991)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 31, 2016)

Just as 1983’s The Big Chill boosted interest in classic Motown, 1991’s The Commitments gave a shot in the arm to 1960s R&B. One twist: whereas Chill used songs as a backdrop to events, in Commitments, the music becomes a major plot point.

Set in Dublin, 20-something Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) gets recruited to manage a band that will play classic American R&B. Jimmy assembles the group from locals and sets them on their way to potential fame and fortune, with a mix of complications along the way.

I know I saw Commitments back in 1991, but I can’t tell you much about that experience. I think I kind of sort of enjoyed it, but the movie did little to stick with me over the last 25 years. I watched it, I found myself vaguely interested in it, I moved on with my life.

Now that I’ve given it a second look in 2016, I can offer a definitive opinion of Commitments: I kind of sort of enjoyed it. While the last 25 years haven’t hurt the movie, they’ve not done much to make it more memorable than it was in 1991.

Perhaps I come down too hard on Commitments because I feel I should like it more than I do. After all, I love music, and I enjoy the styles featured in the movie. A story about the origins and rise of a band should be right up my alley, especially when shepherded by a talented director like Alan Parker.

So why does Commitments leave me semi-cold? Perhaps because it lacks the thrill of discovery one expects from a story like this. Music should be about passion, but none of the participants seems all that interested in their work. They play in the band as something to do, mainly – they develop an attachment more out of a sense of camaraderie than anything else, and even that connection seems tenuous.

I think the gold standard for a story like this comes from 1996’s That Thing You Do! The Tom Hanks movie captured the ups and downs of its subject in a vivid, delightful manner that makes it s consistent treasure.

On the other hand, Commitments seems more scattershot, partly because it tosses so many characters at us. Sure, Thing came with a fairly large cast as well, but it concentrated on a few of them well, so we felt like we got to know them.

Nominally, Jimmy offers the main character in Commitments, but this doesn’t play out in an especially rich manner – I don’t feel like I see a lot of development in Jimmy between the movie’s beginning and end, and the same holds for the rest of the cast. We associate them with general traits/characteristics and not much else.

As for the music, Commitments comes packed with classics, and they receive decent reproduction. I wouldn’t watch the movie for the songs, though – why listen to these versions when we can play the superior originals instead?

None of these factors make Commitments a bad movie, of course. As I noted earlier, I think it offers a moderately engaging experience, with just enough drama and humor to keep us involved. The film simply never threatens to live up to its potential, though.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

The Commitments appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The image held up reasonably well.

For the most part, sharpness worked well, as much of the movie showed nice clarity and accuracy. Interiors could be a little fuzzy but not to a substantial degree. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and source flaws were minor. I noticed a small speck or two but nothing more.

Colors seemed adequate. Commitments went with a drab palette much of the time, so it didn’t feature a lot of tones. Nonetheless, the elements we got looked solid. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows delivered smooth material. I felt the transfer reproduced the source reasonably well.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield generally provided a forward emphasis and those elements were accentuated with a moderate amount of general ambience. The soundscape featured street sounds and plenty of music, of course, but it didn’t present an especially involving array.

The surrounds failed to add much. Even during scenes where the track could’ve provided involvement – such as a rainstorm – the material focused on the front and did little with the back speakers.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was clear and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Effects appeared clean and accurate, and they packed a good punch when appropriate.

Music showed nice clarity and range. The songs sounded good, as they demonstrated clean highs and punchy bass response. This wasn’t a particularly ambitious track, but it worked fine given the movie’s scope.

This 25th Anniversary Blu-ray offers a good mix of extras, and we start with an audio commentary from director Alan Parker. Recorded for a 2004 DVD, Parker offers a running, screen-specific look at how he came to the project, the source novel and its adaptation, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, photography and connected domains.

Parker makes this an effective commentary. He touches on a good variety of subjects and does so well, especially when he touches on the challenges of working with so many inexperienced actors. Expect many useful details in this informative, engaging chat.

A new piece, 25 Years Later goes for 19 minutes, nine seconds and features comments from Parker and actors Robert Arkins, Glen Hansard, and Ken McCluskey. “Later” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, photography and editing.

In theory, it’s nice to hear new perspectives from the actors. However, Parker dominates “Later”, and he tends to cover material already discussed in the commentary. A few fresh thoughts emerge but much of the featurette seems redundant after Parker’s comprehensive commentary.

During The Making of Alan Parker’s Film The Commitments, we get a 22-minute, 37-second show with Parker, Arkins, novelist Roddy Doyle, and actors Dave Finnegan, Maria Doyle, Angeline Ball, Andrew Strong, Michael Aherne, and Johnny Murphy. This one examines story/characters, cast and performances, and music. In terms of information, we tend to hear some of the same material from other pieces. However, the behind the scenes footage adds value.

Looking Back fills 47 minutes, 11 seconds with info from Parker, Roddy Doyle, Aherne, McCluskey, Murphy, Arkins, Strong, producers Lynda Myles and Roger Randall-Cutler, screenwriters Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, casting directors Ros and John Hubbard, director of photography Gale Tattersal, and actors Dick Massey, Felim Gormley and Bronagh Gallagher. “Back” views the source novel, its adaptation, and path to the screen, auditions, cast and performances, auditions and improvisation, the movie’s reception and aftermath.

Although it follows a few other extras, “Looking Back” manages to provide quite a lot of new information. The added participants/perspectives helps, and we get a frank appraisal of different areas. This creates a solid program.

With the 14-minute, 53-second Dublin Soul, we hear from Roddy Doyle, McCluskey, Massey, Aherne, and Independent Member of Parliament Tony Gregory. “Soul” delivers notes about the Irish settings featured in the film. It adds more good info.

Next comes Making of The Commitments. It lasts eight minutes, five seconds and includes Parker, Strong and Ball. Created to promote the film in 1991, it seems superficial and consists mainly of movie clips.

After this we locate a music video. “Treat Her Right” Arkins and Parker open this with an introduction and then we see the video for Arkins’ performance. It’s a pretty straight performance piece and not especially interesting; the intro offers the most fun part of this five-minute, 51-second piece.

Finally, the package includes two Still Galleries. We see “Production Stills” (14) and “Behind the Scenes Stills” (10). Neither adds much to the package.

As a tale of a band’s rise and fall, The Commitments offers some entertainment value. However, it lacks much depth and never lives up to its potential. The Blu-ray provides generally positive picture and audio along with an informative set of supplements highlighted by an excellent commentary. The movie leaves me less than enchanted, but I feel pleased with this release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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