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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Howard Deutch
Cast:
Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson, Craig Sheffer, John Ashton, Elias Koteas, Molly Hagan, Maddie Corman, Jane Elliot
Writing Credits:
John Hughes

Tagline:
Before they could stand together, they had to stand alone.

Synopsis:
Think everyone over 17 has forgotten what it's like to be 16? Filmmaker John Hughes hasn't. Now Hughes delivers another funny, savvy, crowd pleasing look at adolescence in this story about a high school misfit (Eric Stoltz), who falls so head over heels for the senior class siren that he's blind to the charms of his beautiful and devoted best pal (Mary Stuart-Masterson). Some fun, some heartache, Some Kind of Wonderful!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3.486 million on 1082 screens.
Domestic Gross
$18.553 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 8/29/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Howard Deutch and Actor Lea Thompson
• “The Making of Some Kind of Wonderful” Featurette
• “Meet the Cast” Featurette
• “The Music” Featurette
• “John Hughes Time Capsule” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Some Kind Of Wonderful: Special Collector's Edition (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2006)

1987’s Some Kind of Wonderful marked the end of a cinematic era. After making a name for himself with hits like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, filmmaker John Hughes left behind the world of teenage concerns and concentrated on more adult subjects. This led to some successes like 1987’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles along with duds like 1988’s She’s Having a Baby.

Hughes didn’t stretch outside of safe territory in Wonderful. Artistically talented high school senior Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) comes from a blue-collar background. His dad Cliff (John Ashton) pushes him to become the first member of the family to go to college, but he seems to lack ambition – at least to pursue what his father wants. Keith hangs out with tomboyish classmate Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), and she clearly crushes on him. However, Keith pines for sexy Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), though she seems to be out of his league since she mostly associates with the rich kids.

When he ogles her, Keith incurs the wrath of Amanda’s snotty boyfriend Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer), but this doesn’t prevent him from pursuing her. Eventually she dumps Harvey to protest against his scummy ways and agrees to go out with Keith. The rest of the movie follows their relationship and its effect on others.

My biggest gripe about Wonderful comes from the fact it’s a thinly-veiled remake of 1986’s Pretty in Pink. Whereas Pink was a fantasy for all the quirky girls, Wonderful acts as hope for the oddball boys. Stay true to yourself, do what you believe, and you’ll end up with the hottest girl in town.

It’s a load of tripe in either direction, but Wonderful makes the message go down much more smoothly than the dopey Pink. Some of the greater appeal stems from the characters and the actors, as both are superior in Wonderful. In particular, Stoltz offers a radically stronger performance than Molly Ringwald in Pink. The script doesn’t give Stoltz a lot to work with, but he manages to turn Keith into a charming, satisfying personality. We believe him as something of an outcast, but Keith’s not a freak. Stoltz really does a nice job in the part. He brings out an innocent, genuine quality to Keith that endears him to the audience.

That level of quality extends to the others as well. Masterson’s Watts is infinitely more likable than the annoying Jon Cryer’s Duckie. I really grew to hate the latter, whereas Masterson manages to turn a potentially grating character into someone sympathetic and likable. Given the importance of the Keith/Watts relationship, that’s crucial. Her chemistry with Stoltz allows the movie to thrive.

In smaller parts, both Ashton and Elias Koteas as Duncan the skinhead create some laughs. Ashton makes the most out of a scene in which he inadvertently embarrasses his teen daughter in school, and Koteas loosens up his one-dimensional role to amuse us. These moments are gratuitous and not connected to the plot, but at least they’re enjoyable.

Truly, my only real complaint about Wonderful comes from its derivative nature. I always thought it was odd that the same people made the same movie twice in two consecutive years, and that decision remains perplexing to me now. Wonderful and Pink aren’t just loosely similar; they really are the same film with some minor variations.

Nonetheless, I won’t complain too much since Wonderful provides a much more satisfying experience. Better acted and more logical, Wonderful surpasses Pink in virtually every way. It’s a sweet and endearing flick.

Trivia note: Wonderful betrays a Rolling Stones obsession on the part of the filmmakers. The most obvious reference comes with Amanda Jones, as “Miss Amanda Jones” is a song off the Stones’ 1967 release Between the Buttons. In case you missed that reference, the song appears twice in the movie: once as an atrocious cover from some forgotten 80s band called the March Violets and once in its original form.

Wonderful doesn’t stop its Stones allusions there, though. “Keith” is clearly named after the unkillable Mr. Richards, and “Watts” takes her name from legendary drummer Charlie. Perhaps other references appear as well and I just haven’t made the connections, but these name choices clearly aren’t coincidental.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Some Kind of Wonderful appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie displayed a lackluster transfer.

Grain created the biggest problem. Much of the film exhibited rather high levels of grain, and this gave the image a messy feel. A few other specks and marks appeared as well, but the grain was the main distraction.

Sharpness was decent. Most of the movie came across as reasonably distinctive and concise. Wide shots occasionally looked a bit indistinct, but the flick was acceptably defined for the majority of its running time. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only a little edge enhancement was detected.

Colors were erratic. Occasionally they looked reasonably dynamic and lively, but they usually suffered from the vague murkiness that often affected Eighties flicks. Though I didn’t think the tones were weak, they lacked much vivacity. Blacks were similarly decent but somewhat flat, and shadows tended to be a bit dense. This was a consistently watchable transfer that never became better than that.

Though I liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Some Kind of Wonderful, it wasn’t especially memorable either. Music most benefited from the expanded soundfield. The songs demonstrated good stereo spread and also spread to the surrounds with decent involvement. Effects played a smaller role and didn’t do much through the movie. They presented a minor sense of atmosphere but not much else. Still, the music opened things up in a satisfying manner.

Audio quality was fine for a movie from 1987. Again, music was the most important element, and the songs seemed reasonably lively and dynamic. At least they offered more satisfying bass when compared to the thin tones of Pretty in Pink. Speech seemed concise and crisp, and effects were acceptably accurate and clean. This was an unexceptional mix but it worked for the film.

A moderate mix of supplements fills out the DVD. We begin with an audio commentary with director Howard Deutch and actor Lea Thompson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They cover music and the opening sequence, cast, characters and performances, reshoots and a few problems, set design and locations, and story issues.

Although Deutch’s solo chat for Pink was a dud, I hoped that the introduction of Thompson into the mix would add some life to the proceedings. After all, the real-life married couple fell in love during Wonderful, so one would expect lots of great stories and notes, right?

That’s what one would expect, but not what one would actually get. Deutch does seem chattier here than during Pink, but we don’t learn a whole lot more. Thompson offers very little information. She throws out the occasional note but leaves the meat of the track to her hubby. The only minor sparks occur when they bicker about whether or not a particular scene was a reshoot. Deutch reveals some moderately interesting story concerns as well as a few other decent tidbits, but this remains a lackluster commentary. There’s still too much dead air and not enough information to create a particularly useful track.

A few featurettes follow. The Making of Some Kind of Wonderful goes for seven minutes, 45 seconds, and mixes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from Deutch, Thompson, writer/producer John Hughes (from 1986) and actors Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Stoltz. We learn how Deutch came onto the project, cast, characters, and performances, interactions and conflicts on the set, and what John Hughes brought to the teen genre. That’s a lot to pack into a short piece, so “Making” suffers from a lack of depth. Some enticing tidbits emerge – especially when we hear how Deutch and Stoltz didn’t get along – but this show acts as nothing more than a quick teaser.

Greater depth comes from the 13-minute and 25-second Meet the Cast. It includes Deutch, Stoltz, Thompson, Masterson, Hughes (1986), and actors John Ashton, Maddie Corman, Chynna Philips (1987) and Molly Hagan. This piece tells us more about casting and characters as we learn why the actors wanted to work in the film. We also learn a few more insights into characters and performances. Many good stories emerge here, especially the touching one Corman tells about her dying mother. These add up to an engaging little program.

For the five-minute and seven-second The Music, we get notes from Deutch, Hughes (1986), Masterson, and Stoltz. We learn how Hughes integrates music into his films and get some specifics about the tracks in the flick. I wouldn’t call this a substantial piece, but it covers the subject with reasonable efficiency.

For the final featurette, we find a John Hughes Time Capsule. This 10-minute and 48-second program presents a 1986 interview with Hughes conducted by actor Kevin Bacon. They discuss how Hughes represents high school life and his childhood influences, how he went from writing to directing, and some thoughts about Wonderful. Hughes doesn’t give us a ton of information, but we get enough insight to make the show worth a look.

25 images appear in a Photo Gallery. It includes the usual mix of publicity stills and behind the scenes shots. None of these seem particularly memorable.

The DVD opens with some Previews. We get ads for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Failure to Launch and Totally Awesome. No trailer for Wonderful appears here.

Because I disliked Pretty in Pink, I didn’t expect to enjoy Some Kind of Wonderful. After all, the latter literally remakes the former. However, Wonderful ended up as a much more likable and better-made movie that proved quite satisfying. The DVD offers pretty average picture and audio along with some decent extras. This isn’t a special DVD, but it’s perfectly acceptable, and the quality of the movie means it merits my recommendation.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7692 Stars Number of Votes: 13
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main