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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Woody Allen
Cast:
Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake
Writing Credits:
Woody Allen

Synopsis:
On Coney Island in the 1950s, a lifeguard tells the story of a middle-aged carousel operator, his beleaguered wife, and the visitor who turns their lives upside-down.

Box Office:
Budget
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$125,570 on 5 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$1,404,061.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 3/6/2018

Bonus:
• ďThe Cast and Crew Discuss Making Wonder WheelĒ Featurette


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RELATED REVIEWS


Wonder Wheel [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 9, 2020)

While most Woody Allen movies take place in the current day, the legendary filmmaker occasionally indulges in more nostalgic efforts. Into that category comes 2017ís Wonder Wheel, a view of New York in the 1950s.

Harold ďHumptyĒ Rannell (Jim Belushi) operates rides at Coney Island, where he lives with his second wife, Ginny (Kate Winslet). One day his estranged 26-year-old daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) appears and re-enters his life.

The product of Humptyís first marriage, he disowned her when she married a gangster named Frank. Now Carolina seeks her fatherís help, as she fears Frank wants to kill her because she gave information about him to the FBI.

In addition, Ginny feels like she never realized her potential, as she used to aspire to become an actor. Ginny finds an outlet for her disappointment via an affair with younger lifeguard Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake), a move that complicates when Mickey and Carolina meet and threaten to turn romantic.

Going into Wheel, I expected a warm, nostalgic comedy ala Allenís flicks like 1987ís Radio Days. However, Wheel provides a dramatic affair with little of Allenís usual mirth.

Not that Wheel goes down the ultra-serious Bergman-influenced path of 1978ís Interiors. However, it only occasionally displays any sense of lightness, and those elements usually stem from the use of peppy period songs, as the material itself remains pretty dramatic.

This simply feels wrong for Allen, as he seems unable to give the story the reality it needs. Rather than treat the tale and characters the believability they require, Allen gives the whole product a contrived tone that doesnít work.

Really, Allen channels his internal Tennessee Williams here, as Wheel often comes across like an adaptation of a stage play, and one that favors Williamsí style of melodrama. Heck, Humpty even reminds me of an older, more beaten-down Stanley Kowalski!

Though Allen deals with working class characters, he forces them to speak in florid, theatrical ways. At one point, Ginny says ďIt was someone I loved Ė a drummer whose rhythm pulsated with lifeĒ.

Who talks like that? This turns into exceedingly ďstagedĒ dialogue, and these tendencies take us out of the film.

Not that the characters or situations ever seem especially compelling. Ginny, Humpty, Carolina and Mickey all feel fairly dull, and Allen canít develop them into interesting roles with much internal life, no matter how much he thinks he makes them deep and meaningful.

Given how much the movie concentrates on the lives and interactions of these characters, our detachment from them becomes an issue. If we donít invest in these events, the project collapses.

Though I donít want to overstate these problems, as Wheel manages moderate narrative thrust, enough to keep us from boredom. However, that feels like a pretty low bar.

As usual, Allen recruits a good cast, and they all hold up pretty well in their underdone parts. Unsurprisingly, Belushi does worst, as he hams his way through Humpty a bit too much, but Winslet manages a bit of Ginnyís inner life and almost creates an interesting character.

Almost, but not quite. Wonder Wheel fares better than a lot of Allenís 21st century work, but that doesnít imply a compliment, as heís made some pretty weak movies in that span. Wheel remains watchable but it doesnít really click.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Wonder Wheel appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a strong presentation.

Sharpness looked terrific. Virtually no signs of softness emerged, so the movie seemed tight and well-defined.

No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. Source flaws also failed to create problems.

Wheel heavily embraced Hollywood Standard orange and teal. Within those parameters, the colors appeared clear and concise.

Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. All of this left us with a great transfer.

One shouldnít expect much from the movieís DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundscape, as it remained decidedly low-key. Though the mix expanded past Allenís old mono days, it still seemed modest in scope.

Music showed good stereo imaging, and effects used the side and rear speakers in a decent manner. Seaside or boardwalk Coney Island scenes offers some activity, and a storm brought nice involvement. Nonetheless, most of the mix remained subdued.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded natural and distinctive, without edginess or other issues.

Music sounded peppy and warm, while effects were clean and accurate. This was an acceptable track for this chatty character piece.

The Cast and Crew Discuss Wonder Wheel lasts three minutes, 11 seconds and brings comments from producer Erika Aronson and actors Kate Winslet, Jim Belushi, Juno Temple and Justin Timberlake.

We see them at the movieís premiere, and they provide a few thoughts about the flick. Though we get two or three useful notes, this mostly acts as a forgettable promo reel.

Though it takes place in the New York of Woody Allenís young adulthood, donít expect a warm piece of nostalgia from Wonder Wheel, as it veers in a dramatic path. Also donít expect a particularly interesting movie from this fairly flat character piece. The Blu-ray offers excellent visuals along with adequate audio and one minor supplement. While not a genuinely bad film, Wheel doesnít do much to succeed.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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