Plot: What’s it about?
Eddie Thomas (John Cusack) and Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are the most popular couple in Hollywood, both on and off the screen. The two have made a number of films together and those movies have raked in the cash, in massive amounts. In fact, neither has done much without the other, but all that has changed, since Gwen fell in love with another man. After she left Eddie, she has been in two box office bombs and as for Eddie, he snapped and has been in a mental relaxation center ever since. But if ever the two needed to get back together, it would be now, as their final film together has been completed and of course, a press junket needs to follow. The man in charge of this junket is Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal), who quickly moves the junket into the middle of nowhere, in an effort to divert the attention of the press away from the film itself. At the same time, he has Gwen’s assistant Kiki (Julia Roberts) work to get Gwen and Eddie to get along long enough to complete the junket, all while the film’s reclusive director (Christopher Walken) refuses to let anyone see the film until the junket’s premiere showing. Can Lee and Kiki manage to keep this ship afloat, all while Kiki seems to have fallen in love with Eddie?
I wasn’t too thrilled about America’s Sweethearts when it hit theaters, but because Billy Crystal was in it, I decided to give it a chance. As I expected, Crystal turns in a very humorous performance, but in the end, this movie is average in all respects. I think this is one of the cases where executives assume star power means good movie, but that is not the truth here. In addition to Crystal, we also have Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Christopher Walken, but it just never comes together like it should. The writing is actually solid at times and offers great potential, but everyone but Crystal and Zeta-Jones seems to be sleepwalking through this one. Which is a shame, as the premise is quite good and could have been worked into a terrific, very funny motion picture, if the right cast was optioned. I guess I’m just not taken by Roberts and her usual subpar effort, as I think she really sunk this one, without a doubt. If you’re interested though, America’s Sweethearts is worth a rental, if just to watch Crystal in a top form performance.
Now that she’s been handed an Oscar for no good reason, Julia Roberts seems to be pleased coasting on her name value. Her last couple of movies have tanked at the box office though, so perhaps the masses have come to their senses. Roberts has talent and can play certain roles, but outside of romantic comedies, I’ve never been too impressed by her skills. In America’s Sweethearts, she’s supposed to be a non glamorous assistant who turns glamorous, which seems like a shallow enough role for her, I admit it. But she doesn’t come off as too interested, as her performance reeks of being phoned in. This is what happens when you bring in a name for their name, when a more gifted worker could have fared much better. Other movies with Roberts include Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Mystic Pizza, and Erin Brockovich. The cast also includes Billy Crystal (Forget Paris, The Princess Bride), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment, The Mask of Zorro), and John Cusack (Grosse Pointe Blank, Sixteen Candles).
Video: How does it look?
America’s Sweethearts is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition also included on this dual layered disc. As per usual, Columbia delivers an outstanding visual effort for this day & date title, leaving little room for complaints. The print used is clean and shows minimal flaws, while the color scheme is dead on and flesh tones are natural, just as it all should be. I saw no problems on the contrast side either, as detail is well defined and black levels are always well balanced. This is not quite a perfect visual presentation, but it comes close and as such, I doubt anyone will be let down in the least.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t at all disappointed with the included Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but this is a dialogue based picture, so keep your expectations in check. As this is driven by vocals, the surrounds aren’t used a lot, but some presence was detected. I found the musical score to be rich and well presented, while sound effects come through well, but never call for much power to be used. The main issue here is dialogue and it sounds excellent, always clean & crisp and never any volume errors, impressive work indeed. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, a French language track, and subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, a selection of deleted scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailer.