DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Flirting With Disaster: Collector's Edition (RECOMMENDED)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Jun 1, 2004.

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  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]


    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




    The Feature...

    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. [​IMG]

    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.



    Picture...

    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 [​IMG] )

    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... [​IMG] Just watch the DVD and I think you'll understand why I'm so enthusiastic about the color saturation on this disc. The colors had a richness and varied palette than I normally associate with HD program material. Very, very nice.

    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... [​IMG]


    Picture: 4.75/ 5
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    Sound...

    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
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    Special Features...

    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.
    [/list]
    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. [​IMG]



    In Closing...

    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.


    OUTRAGEOUSLY RECOMMENDED
     
  2. Michael St. Clair

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    The laserdisc included the 'cut' epilogue snippets, and I'm pretty sure the VHS did too.

    As far as I know, only the first DVD had the cuts.

    Oh, nice review. Definitely an underappreciated film. [​IMG]
     
  3. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    You are compelling me to double dip.

    This is one of those films that I pull out for friends who have never seen or heard of it, along with Diggstown and The Dish. They almost always love it and wonder why they had never heard of it before.

    Brad
     
  4. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Brad,

    Yep. You gotta get it. Your comments are exactly the reason why I think everyone should have this movie...it's one of those "What?! You never saw it? Oh...we HAVE to watch this movie tonight!" type of films.

    I had never seen it until this review...and on Friday when some friends came over for a flick and I showed them the stuff waiting to be reviewed for Disney they were like "What!? You never saw Flirting With Disaster?! Oh we've GOT to watch it!" Obviously we did and I loved it and wondered why I hadn't heard about it before... [​IMG]

    Now I'll get to do the same for others... [​IMG]

    p.s. never saw either of those other two titles. Hmmm. Maybe I should pick them up on your recommendation?
     
  5. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

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    [​IMG]

    Excellent review David. I was on the fence about whether or not to add this to my collection, but after reading your review I think it would be outrageous of me not to. [​IMG]
     
  6. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
    Reviewer

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    I loved this movie when it came out and for some reason wasn't aware of it even being available on DVD. Purchase was a given when I saw it on the release schedule and the great review about image quality is just a feather in the cap.

    I found a promotional photo of the armpit scene and made a birthday card from it with a greeting like, "I hope your birthday is filled with new experiences." Needless to say my friend was thrown off by that one for some time.
     
  7. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Well this is one of those examples that if it wasn’t for the HTF, I would have never known about this. I will definitely try this since I’m a Ben Stiller fan and enjoyed his latest film “Along …” which got a negative review here. I suppose this is better than that! [​IMG]
     
  8. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    OK... this was never discussed. Is this higher, than "highly"...[​IMG]

    Terrific review Dave.
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Consider yourself lucky -- the original DVD release was a travesty: atrocious transfer, poorly mastered and didn't include the two sequences that play during the credits. I'm looking forward to seeing this new version.

    M.
     
  10. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    Neither Diggstown nor The Dish are at all like Flirting with Disaster, so don't conclude that I was recommending them based upon your liking of this title. They are just films that fall into the category of "good films that were never seen or heard of by my friends".

    Diggstown is a fun con movie with James Woods, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Bruce Dern. It has a light, comedic tone throughout, and is a good title if you're a fan of the con man genre.

    The Dish is an Australian film (perhaps with some American production) about the radio tower in a sheep paddock that supported communications with the first landing on the moon. It's a rather adorable film with a great 1960's pop soundtrack. Sam Neill and Patrick Warburton are in it, along with several other folks who would be unknowns to an American audience.

    I saw Flirting With Disaster twice in the theater during its original theatrical run, and it was one of the first DVDs that I acquired. I just hope I Heart Huckabee's (scheduled for release in October) lives up to the high expectations that I have for it since it's the first feature from David O. Russell in five years.

    Brad
     
  11. Niko Nykanen

    Niko Nykanen Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh GOD have I been waiting for this DVD to be released for a long time! ...with 16x9 transfer that is. Sadly there is no commentary från O´Russell. He did a good job on Three Kings so I was kinda expecting a commentary for this one. Oh well. I´m glad I finally can buy this movie!
     
  12. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

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    I did not purchase the first DVD release but will get this version. I'm sorry the supplements were not better. Oh well. Great movie anyway.
     
  13. BBbrowd

    BBbrowd Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the great review, David. I love this movie so much and have been waiting for this new DVD release. I did not even bother to buy the previous DVD because of the horrible transfer, so I've had to live with my VHS of it. Thank goodness it is getting the quality release it deserves.

    This is one of the funniest films in recent times, and what a cast! Everyone is great. It's filled with quotable dialog. Just amazing.

    I never thought of linking it to What's Up Doc, or Big Business, two other films that I love. I guess that means I should see Planes Trains and Automobiles.
     
  14. Chris Moe

    Chris Moe Screenwriter

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    I rented this a long time ago on VHS and then recently re-rented it from Netflix. I love the movie but the first DVD was so bad that I was really holding off on buying, very happy to hear that a new version is coming. Great news.
     
  15. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    I wonder why they put the CE label on this release. I'm not complaining, since I paid $15 for it, but this release stands in stark contrast to the packed Trainspotting DVD. Were they originally going to include more features? Deleted scenes, outtakes, and a 5 minute featurette are not so special.
     

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