Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
U.S. Rating: R
Film Length: 93
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Release Date: NOW
Based on a comical stage play by Christopher Durang, director Robert Altman brought Beyond Therapy to celluloid as a neurotically comical movie featuring an all-star cast. Jeff Goldblum is Bruce, a bisexual man who wants to see other women against the approval of his jealous male partner Bob (Christopher Guest). The film opens up with Bruce meeting Prudence (Julie Hagerty) in his seemingly favorite restaurant by means of responding to personals in the newspaper. After Prudence learns of his sexual lifestyle she is determined to never meet up with him again.
But as fate intervenes, they are meet up via personals again under different names. Each of them are a little funny in their own ways, and once they start chatting there is a little clicking going on in their minds. Bruce then finds himself caught in a love triangle between Prudence and Bob. But the new couple can’t seem to get away from problems because everyone seems to have them: Bob’s inquisitorial mother Zizi (Geneviève Page) and each of their erratic psychiatrists Charlotte and Stuart (Glenda Jackson & Tom Conti) who are crazier than their patients. By the end of this movie they all need a vacation because none of them can use therapy for their problems. Finding true love is something they will have to find on their own.
Everything about this film has stage play written all over it. The select locations, the directing, the acting, the motions and facial expressions, the decisions and actions of the characters are all what is considered great for live theatrics. I’ve seen many live stage plays and I would have loved to see this play in live action because it probably would have been hilarious. As a film I think Beyond Therapy misses the mark. I felt it just didn’t work. The directing, the actions and expressions of characters etc. just don’t feel right on film and that is probably why I didn’t enjoy this film that much. The comedy would seem to work better in live action.
There are a few things that bother me about this film like the sloppy editing that left me lost between scenes. The beginning of the film is full of these frivolous scene extensions that are distracting from the conversation between Bruce and Prudence. The film gets caught up many times having several conversations happening at once all at the same volume level. This was frustrating because I really can’t tell which one I should listen to if any at all.
The photography is rather amateurish with a heavy use of the zoom switch by the camera operator. This became tiring rather quickly. Even the photography didn’t have a movie feel to it because it felt as if the camera was always watching the actors in the distance as if they didn’t know they were being filmed. This feeling was emphasized because much of it is shot through plants and trees, or peeping through windows from buildings afar zooming in through the glass. While maybe the intention was to pretend you are peeping in on their lives, I didn’t enjoy this method. But I did make it through this film. There are some memorable moments, notably the ending in the restaurant. There are quite a few laughs in this scene but it took a lot to get there. I can’t say this movie was boring, but because of the way it was presented it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Video Quality? /
The video presentation is typical of lower budget ‘80s films. The black level is slightly washed out reducing the dynamic range from the relatively good white level. Colours are a little muted but never undefined looking, but flesh tones lean a little to the red side. Overall this widescreen enhanced 1.85:1 image looks soft and is grainy throughout. It is an adequate presentation, but no the best looking film. At least the feature presentation looks much better than the theatrical trailer that is marred with artifacts.
Audio Quality? /
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack features sounds of the midrange and up making dialogue and effects sounding thin. The jazzy and offbeat music score is satisfactorily clean but the strained dialogue is a little painful to hear. This is a very simple soundtrack, and a very inconsistent one too. There are quiet scenes that are broken by distracting sounds like car crashes that seem to have no meaning in the film other than for humour. At times, the dialogue would be completely lost in the sound effects making it unintelligible. When I raised the volume to compensate for the low recording, the volume level would jump the next moment and I’d have to turn it down again. Normally I’d listen to a film louder all the way through, but I found this not the most pleasing soundtrack to listen to because of its stridency.
Special Features? /
This is not a studly package of features, but it does give you a 5x7 theatrical poster replica with chapter stops on the backside. Also included is the theatrical trailer and a teaser trailer that is widescreen enhanced.
I like to enjoy a good comedy once and a while, I didn’t find Beyond Therapy to be entirely amusing as a film. The DVD presentation is only satisfactory in both the audio and video department so as a fan you might be a little disappointed. If you’ve never seen it before, try it for a rental and see what you think.