Senior HTF Member
- Feb 24, 1999
Flirting with Disaster Studio:MIRAMAX Year:1996RunTime:93 minutesAspect Ratio:16x9 encoded 1.85:1 OARAudio:DD 5.1 English, 5.1 DD French.Subtitles:English (captions for the hearing impaired)SpecialFeatures:Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Making-Of FeaturetteReleaseDate:June 1, 2004
Having never seen Flirting with Disaster prior to this DVD review, I was not prepared for the onslaught of wit, humor, drama, and intense dialog that was about to get hurled my way. Lucky for me, I was able to view this film with some friends to make the most of the comedic experience, and I recommend that you do the same. Good comedies are best enjoyed in a group dynamic and Flirting with Disaster is a perfect example of a really, really GOOD comedy.
I can’t think of another comedy I’ve seen in the last decade that has captured the full cup of quality movie-making that I experienced from this film. This film is uproariously funny. It’s absolutely outrageous and I rank it among the very BEST screw-ball comedies/road shows to date. If you enjoy classics like What’s Up Doc, Planes Trains and Automobiles, or Big Business, Flirting with Disaster takes it to a new level.
Flirting with Disaster is crafted like a well-oiled machine…editing one scene into another with the speed and rhythm of an accomplished jazz musician. The dialog is more complex than Kathryn Hepburn/Cary Grant 1940’s banter. And the chemistry between the actors is spot-on. This is a killer cast. Mary Tyler Moore is simply brilliant, Ben Stiller is his usual excellent self, Patricia Arquette is his utterly believable wife, Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin are sublime, and that’s just scratching the surface. The acting in this film is so good you find yourself convincingly pulled in to every zanny, twisted, inside-out situation that unfolds.
But there’s something particular that makes Flirting with Disaster such a brilliantly executed screw-ball comedy; Ironically, it’s the “real world” candor of this film that gives it such stamina to entertain. Director David O. Russell takes real-life situations that we can relate to (some directly, some indirectly) and works them into a tapestry of humor that’s larger-than-life but still recognizable. Russell intelligently interweaves multiple threads of conversation and personal situations into a maze of edgy entertainment that just has to be seen to be believed. At the core this film is really about human relationships and it deals with their realities in a rather unashamed manner, and refreshingly treats the gay couple just like any other--which for Russell means with the same bawdy irreverence and depiction of neurosis that he grants to all the other relationships.
Fans of the film might be interested in this tidbit: During the closing credits this DVD restores two previously cut snippets (from the total of six brief closing-credit-scenes) that had been deemed too racy for audiences when the film was first released. I don’t have the previous DVD but I believe that this is the first time these two scenes have been available on home video.
One scene is with the gay couple in bed together with the baby and the other with the social worker sporting her pregnant physique.
Everyone should see this film. Well, not everyone. To really enjoy this movie you must be liberal of mind and be comfortable with very frank discussions and portrayals (not graphic) of sex. I probably couldn’t watch this movie with my parents, and I wouldn’t recommend watching it with any pre-teen children. This film is for adult audiences who are prepared to be shocked while they suffer through bouts of uncontrollable laughter. So pour yourself a glass of wine or grab a cold beer to loosen up, and kick back with a few of your favorite pals, pass the popcorn and give it a spin. You will be well rewarded.
GORGEOUS. By and large folks this transfer is virtually perfect and to my eyes, on my system (BenQ 8700+ DLP projector driven via 1280 x 720 DVI from Momitsu v800 DVD player), the image was silky, natural, and decidedly film-like. Whereas Trainspotting had a somewhat “harsh” digital signature from the HF boost, Flirting with Disaster had a much more relaxed and natural appearance. I don’t know what MIRAMAX did differently to master this title versus so many others I’ve seen recently from the studio, but they really did this one right. Time after time I kept saying to myself “Wow, that looks like projected 35 mm film.” It is the rare DVD that prompts me to think this way.
Detail is also excellent, and didn’t have the “filtered” look like so many DVDs that have spun in my system lately (Kill Bill). Image depth is excellent with a nice sense of 3-dimensionality in many scenes. And color. Oh my god color. I need to start a new paragraph (giving me a chance to relax and calm down
COLOR. The rich and saturated hues in this disc are just intense. I found myself constantly (in between the “looks like 35 mm film” comments) commenting to myself little phrases like “oh, look at colors in that hat” or “wow, look at the colors in that sign”. Ok, so that sounds lame even when *I* read it outloud. So maybe those aren't exactly the most emotionally gripping phrases that a fellow could make to himself...
Some scenes also have natural film-grain but as you know by now that doesn’t bother me one bit.
No compression artifacts I can find and shadow detail and black level are all rock solid.
So is there anything wrong? Well, in a few scenes if I looked hard I could see some minor halos on occasion (is that sounding dismissive enough?). But it was so minor that it in no way intruded into the picture to the point of any distraction. And you all know how unforgivable I can be about that EE thing, so that should tell you something. I’ve read some other reports that cited a “harsh” or “digital” look to the picture but honestly folks my impression is just the opposite. Given the silky, natural, film-like character of the image on this DVD, I’m well satisfied. I wish more DVDs looked this good.
Also I think it's worth mentioning for the anal-OAR types that this disc accurately preserves the 1.85:1 aspect ratio in the 16x9 (1.78:1) frame with very mild letterboxing which most folks will never see due to the overscan on their sets. This is a good indication that no horizontal picture information was cropped during the 16x9 encoding process as some studios often do to "fill" the 1.78:1 frame with a native 1.85:1 image. Running the BenQ via DVI produces virtually no overscan that I can detect on my system so for the first time I'm noticing these type of things which never revealed themselves when running 480P.
If you liked the movie enough to buy that stinky 4x3 lbxed DVD (or if you own the laserdisc), you have *no* excuse not to pick up a copy of this gorgeous 16x9 disc. If you have a decent 16x9-compatible display then you *really* have no excuse...
Picture: 4.75/ 5
Audio sounded just fine to my ears, though it is quite a bit front-heavy. I wasn’t really expecting this title to give my 5.1 system a thorough work-out and the audio sounded nicely full, with a decent frequency response and tame dynamics that sounded appropriate for the film. As one would expect, this film is not a 5.1 showpiece.
Dialog is clear but never harsh or irritating which is important given the very heavy dialog-driven content. I think I remember a few instances of surround activity but honestly I was either too distracted by laughter or shock to remember well. When I get a chance I’ll rewatch some scenes with the explicit purpose of monitoring the audio and I’ll post an update (more details) here. (got to get this review posted ASAP!)
Sound: 4/ 5
Ok, let’s be honest. Extras are sparse. I like what we’ve got, but I could have imagined much more (like feature commentary with Russell or a more in-depth featurette). Still, what we have here is nice and given the single-disc status of this title I’m happy to report that the first priority of picture quality on this DVD has not suffered at the hands of overloading with “bonus” material to challenge the bit-rate. Hey, life is a glass half-full if you want to find happiness…
[*]Deleted Scenes: All are video in origin (ie, not 16x9 and in generally poor picture/sound quality) but nice to have included here. One was clear why it wasn’t included in the final film (boring and when nowhere), but two really packed a punch and I think the movie would have been even better had they been left in tact (two examples: the “warm water technique” scene and the “do you play golf?” scene).
[*]Mistakes: which really amounts to “outtakes” which includes both outtakes from scenes that made it into the final film as well as some that pertained to the deleted scenes. Short but sweet.
[*]Original Featurertte: is a bit disappointingly short at about five minutes in length, but it’s got some nice candid interviews with the lead actors and directing talent David O. Russel. This sequence was shot when the film was contemporary (probably for the purpose of promotion) and is nice to have but I would have appreciated it being longer or also interspersed with some modern-day interview segments.
That’s it! But look at the bright side…after you finish watching the movie you and your guests can sit back and enjoy all the extras without folks starting to get board and moving around like they’re ready to leave. Just call me Mr. Glass-Half-Full.
Flirting with Disaster is an outrageously funny road-trip style screw-ball comedy that deserves to be seen by anyone who’s enjoyed movies like What’s Up Doc or Planes Trains and Automobiles who wouldn't mind watching a comedy with a bit more of a "bite". Flirting with Disaster is quite a bit edgier and isn’t timid about shocking you with its candid handling of relationship baggage and sexuality which may offend some, but delight others. And while fans may decry the lack of exhaustive extras, I think that given the stellar video quality on this disc, it’s still well worth the recommendation. Heck, I’d be recommending this disc even if it had NO extras at all.
If you can handle it, you won’t regret the good laughs in store for you and your friends when you invite them over to watch Flirting with Disaster in your home-theater. Be sure to make a movie-night out of it and stock the fridge with beer; this movie was custom made for the occasion.