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Blu-ray Review Girls Just Want to Have Fun Blu-Ray review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by MatthewA, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 2000
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    Salinas, CA
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    Janey Glenn (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a Catholic school military brat who loves to dance. When a local TV dance show gives her the opportunity at an audition, she gets in. There, she partners with working-class Jeff (Lee Montgomery) to win, despite the desires of spoiled rich brat Natalie Sands (Holly Gagnier) to beat them by any means necessary. A derivative plot and a disappointing soundtrack keep Girls Just Want to Have Fun from being as much fun as it could have been, but the campy, up-to-the-minute 1980s fashions and performances from Parker and Helen Hunt as her best friend, Lynn, add interest. This Image Blu-ray features a weak video transfer and serviceable audio.

    [​IMG]Have Fun (1985)

    Studio: New World Pictures (distributed by Image)

    Year: 1985

    Rated: PG

    Length: 87 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Resolution: 1080p

    Languages: English 2.0 PCM Stereo

    Subtitles: none

    MSRP: $17.97

    Film Release Date: April 12, 1985

    Disc Release Date: April 3, 2012

    Review Date: April 18, 2012

    The Movie:

    2.5/5 (add a point for camp value)

    Girls Just Want to Have Fun began its life in 1979 when Philadelphia-based rocker Robert Hazard (née Rimato) wrote and recorded the song from the point of view of a teenage boy frustrated that “that’s all they really want, some fun.” The song languished in relative obscurity until five years later when a sassy Brooklynite named Cyndi Lauper re-recorded it from the girls' point of view. With a few female-appropriate lyric changes, her vibrant Synthpop rendition reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in six other countries and remains an iconic 80s anthem. New World Pictures, the house that Roger Corman built, but had sold in 1983 to a group of investors who wanted to take it mainstream, took notice of the song’s popularity. They also couldn’t help but notice the popularity of the dance movies Flashdance and Footloose around the same time, or TV’s Solid Gold. The desire to capitalize on those elements resulted in this film, appropriately titled Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

    The girls in Girls Just Want to Have Fun are Janey Glenn (Sarah Jessica Parker), whose family has just moved to Chicago, and Lynn Stone (Helen Hunt), a free-spirited girl with whom she shares an interest: the Chicago-based dance show Dance TV. Both go to the same Catholic school. The show has announced an audition to find new dancers, but Janey’s strict father (Ed Lauter), a military Colonel, refuses to let her. That doesn’t stop her, though. Meanwhile, lower-middle-class Jeff Malene (Lee Montgomery) also decides to try out for the show on the insistence of his best friend Drew (Jonathan Silverman). While Janey and Jeff dance with other partners in their audition, they both do well enough to make the cut. Another girl at the audition, spoiled heiress Natalie Sands (Holly Gagnier), is also chosen. But she plans to win at all costs. She sees Janey and Jeff rehearsing together and calls Janey’s father. She also invites Jeff to her coming out party, where some unexpected guests take revenge as Janey, Lynn and Jeff’s sister Maggie (Shannen Doherty) watch. As Jeff and Janey rehearse and argue over their disparate approaches to dancing—he's a self-taught dancer with no use for formal training, while she has taken dance and gymnastics classes for a decade—they also develop feelings for one another. However, an outside force threatens their chances to win the dance contest: Natalie’s father (Morgan Woodward). He owns the factory where Jeff’s father (Biff Yeager) works and uses that fact to threaten Jeff’s family’s livelihood unless he drops out of the contest.

    There’s no denying that this film is cliché with a capital “C.” The plot rehashes enough elements of every dance movie since Saturday Night Fever that its script almost qualifies as a mashup. Director Alan Metter’s sitcom-style staging and compositions are equally routine, and its dance sequences lack either the punch of the era’s music videos or good coverage of the dancing. The soundtrack does feature the original song, but in a cover version by studio singers that at least bothers to differentiate itself from the more popular Cyndi Lauper version (ironically, she appears in the film in an uncredited cameo as the woman in a diner, making the need to resort to a cover version baffling). The rest of the soundtrack seems to be made up of songs The Pointer Sisters, Sammy Hagar and Kenny Loggins had rejected; they serve the sequences adequately but never stand out. But the film does have some saving graces, mainly its two female stars. Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt have a strong rapport as these new best friends, and they have a way with a funny line. Although the script has no plot twist and turn that hasn’t been seen elsewhere—and would be seen again, as John Waters would use the dance contest premise more effectively in Hairspray three years later—it does provide some genuinely amusing situations and dialogue. There’s also no shortage of 80s New Wave fashion, with enough big hair, spandex and leg warmers to choke the entire line-up of Poison. This alone makes it worth a look as a time capsule of what was considered fashionable at the time.

    Though the box calls the film an "outrageous comedy hit," the public didn’t exactly rush to the film. It fell short of breaking even by less than $200,000, grossing $6,326,051 against a $6.5 million budget. But it always seemed to be airing somewhere on cable TV for years.

    The Video:


    Originally presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this Image Blu-Ray is framed at 1.78:1 in a transfer that is far from totally awesome. The color has weak saturation, contrast is average at best and the amount of sharpness leaves a bit to be desired. On the plus side, natural film grain is retained and there are no signs of edge enhancement or compression artifacts. The end credits are so soft they look as though they were upconverted—badly—from an SD source.

    The Audio:


    Presented as a PCM 2.0 stereo track, film’s Dolby Stereo soundtrack fares slightly better. Despite occasional surround activity from revving motorcycles and cars, it is essentially mono in all but the non-musical scenes. There, the left and right speakers get some noticeable action. Dialogue is serviceable, with some very mild distortion that one can probably trace back to the conditions on the set, but one won’t have to strain to hear the dialogue.

    The Extras:


    The only extra is an SD, 4x3 trailer that runs 1:26 and gives away some of the film’s best lines.

    Final Score:


    Girls Just Want to Have Fun is a harmless, occasionally funny bit of fluff. It offers few surprises, and those hoping for a soundtrack that could compete with the likes of Flashdance and Footloose will be disappointed. But its two stars lend an undeniable charm and the 80s fashion flashbacks are sure to invoke nostalgia. This Blu-Ray disc may be the best they could afford to do with the elements, but it’s not going to win any prizes.

  2. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    Sad that they couldn't do a better transfer on this- from what I've read elsewhere it sounds like it was an upconverted standard-def transfer. Would have bought it otherwise- this movie is an extreme guilty pleasure.

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