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HTF Bluray Review: Rodney Dangerfield in LADYBUGS (1 Viewer)

Leo Kerr

May 10, 1999

a764f9f4_Ladybugs cover art

[SIZE= 18px]Ladybugs[/SIZE]​

A Lionsgate release of a Paramount feature. The 1992 feature stars Rodney Dangerfield, Jackée (Harry), Jonathan Brandis, Ilene Graff, and Vinessa Shaw, and was directed by Sidney J. Furie.
The feature is a 1.77:1 version of (according to the Internet Movie Database) a 1.85:1 composition, with a DTS-HD 5.1 track, in English, with English and Spanish subtitles, and an English-SDH track. The feature runs about 89 minutes. After a slow (Java) load, the main menu comes up fairly quickly after the minimal warnings, and the ‘really cool’ Lionsgate trailer. (I really do like that one.) The packaging is a standard Bluray case, with the disc and a Lionsgate advertising insert inside.

Retail price for this Bluray title is $19.99, and was released in the United States on July 6, 2010. The program itself is rated PG-13 for ‘sex-related dialogue.’

The Feature — •••

From my relatively limited experience with Rodney Dangerfield, films featuring him tend to be excuses for him to stand around in the shot making a lot of one-liners, feeling a little bit like a Zucker-Abrams-Zucker film where they throw enough jokes around that some are bound to stick. Except, of course, there are virtually no sight-gags or other set-ups than verbal humor. Therefore, your mileage may vary.

In short, Chester Lee (Dangerfield) in seeking professional advancement in his workplace, the big boss assigns him with the task of coaching the company-sponsored, championship winning, girls youth soccer team (the titular Ladybugs.) Unfortunately for Chester, just about all of the players from the previous years are no longer with the team. And, the big boss’s daughter, Kimberly (Shaw,) is now on the team, too — along with many other girls who appear to have never played the sport before. In desperation, he asks his soccer-playing potential-future-step-son, Matthew (Brandis), for advice. The boy, hopelessly smitten by Kim, but unable to get the nerve to speak to her in school, is... interested. Until he finds the plan includes him dressing as a girl and playing on the team. Except, of course, it does get him close to Kim. Jackée plays Chester’s assistant, both in the office and on the field. She appears as both an antidote or foil to Dangerfield, and also frequently seems to be a “Greek chorus,” making comments out-loud that no one on-screen seems to hear.

A film about sex-roles, the nature of fatherhood, understanding that winning is not always everything, and, of course, Dangerfield. And, of course, being about Dangerfield, it’s also about respect, or a lack there-of. I suppose it was too much to hope for any serious exploration of sex-roles, sexual identity, or any of those other issues that the film essentially ignored, but had a nice base to stand such discussions on. If nothing else, it might have been able to make the 90 minutes a little more... substantial.

The Picture —
The picture is shockingly good. Clean, clear, and free of artifacts. The colors are natural, the frames sharp and clear. There is minimal dirt; almost entirely in the multi-pack title sequences where they were compositing four or so pieces of film, with three more layers of masking. That many passes through the optical printer; you’re bound to get a piece of hair or dust in some of the frames. The rest of the film, being essentially free of any opticals — even dissolves — is astonishingly clean. There was no halation, ringing, or other signs of excessive digital enhancement or noise- or grain-reduction. The 1080p film is encoded at about 30 megabits/second in the AVC.

Perhaps the largest quibble, which may already be a lost cause, is that the original 1.85:1 composition has either been (probably) opened out into a 1.77:1 full-frame HD picture. For this “size” frame, amounting to an extra 21 lines on top and bottom isn’t much, but at what point should the line be drawn? Is five percent too little to complain about? Too much? Six percent? Sigh.

The Sound —
The DTS-HD 5.1 track was clean, clear, and mostly smooth. Originally mixed for Dolby Stereo, there were a few trace ‘swoops’ as ambient effects might have started as the mono-surround on the stem, and got swept suddenly toward the left or the right during the remix. The original matrix-encoded stereo mix was not available, but the reprocessed mix was not objectionable. Surround and subwoofer use is not terribly expansive or extensive, but does add a sense of presence.

The Extras
Apart from subtitling, the only other ‘extra’ on the disc was an advertisement for other Lionsgate Bluray releases. I don’t suppose that really counts. On the other hand, given the lack of extras, I think the viewing population would have been much better served with a faster responding, non-Java-based menu system.

In The End — •••
It’s Rodney Dangerfield. It’s a sports-film. It’s even almost a cross-dressing film. It’s a fairly stereotypical Hollywood plot-theme. It could have been better; it could have been a lot worse. At 90 minutes, it is a little bit long. As a disc, however, the presentation is mostly pleasing. And on a quality and cost performance, this is an excellent bare-bones release.
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