Plot: What’s it about?
Toni Whitney (Tina Majorino) is a bright young girl, but she seems to be reserved and doesn’t make new friends too easily. This worries her father Harry (Keith Carradine), who is the harbor master and in addition to his family matters, he is currently busy with complaints about a poor fishing season. Some of the fisherman chalk up the low intake to bad luck, but one bitter local claims it is because of Andre, a seal adopted by the Whitney family. Andre was orphaned and had little chance of survival, but Toni and her family took it under their care and now Andre has prospered, returning each summer to visit his friends. But that one fisherman thinks Andre is the reason for poor fish numbers, though most suspect his comments are more bitter than truth, since he lost out on harbor master to Harry, thanks in part to Andre’s presence. Soon, Andre’s antics draws in media attention, turns the local world upside down, and even begins to draw Toni out of her shell, but what will become of Andre, when all is said & done?
Sure, the movie realm is flooded with stories about young girls and their lovable seals, but Andre has a special intangible texture that makes it rise above the rest. In fact, after I saw Andre in theaters, I was hard pressed to even remember the other films about girls and seals, which says a lot about the power of this picture. This film is clearly aimed at family audiences, but manages to be better than most within the seal genre, with a more solid storyline, a much more talented seal, and the presence of star Tina Majorino. Majorino (star of films such as Waterworld, Corrina Corrina, and New York Crossing) reportedly turned down several other seal related films to do Andre and I think she made the wise choice, all things considered. I mean, we all remember 1994 as “The Summer of the Seal” and with good reason, as mulitplexes were overloaded with seal pictures, but Andre proved to be the brightest, without question. A masterful mix of slapstick antics, razor sharp dialogue, and amazing performances from both humans & our main attraction, the seal, Andre will stand as one of the best seal themed movies of all time. The industry was stunned when it lost out in the Best Picture race, but time will reveal the true lasting power of Andre and if you ask me, this is one legacy that will live on forever.
Video: How does it look?
Andre is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a by the numbers visual effort, which means it looks good and should please viewers, but it never makes you take notice, so to speak. Some transfers have a special spark that pushes them over the top and this one doesn’t, but it still looks terrific. The colors are warm and consistent, flesh tones look natural, and black levels remain well balanced throughout. A solid visual treatment in all respects, which is good, since Andre has some wonderful visuals to absorb.
Audio: How does it sound?
A basic, but acceptable Dolby Digital 5.1 track is used here and since this film has a reserved audio presence, we couldn’t expect much more. The music sometimes livens up the mix, but this is pretty much a laid back, front channel based experience. That works well however, since the material is non impact driven and more focused on dialogue, as well as a more subtle, real world sound effect design. It all sounds good in this mix, though as I said, you won’t be bowled over by the end result. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, a French language track, and English subtitles, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As per usual, Paramount hasn’t done much with the supplements, not even a theatrical trailer or promotional featurette.