Plot: What’s it about?
It seems that John Cusack is never going to grow up. For some 15 years now, he’s been making movies that appeal to the same audience. Now this is good. Movies like “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer” were more of a slapstick variety, and his later movies seem to appeal to the same group of people, only as they have aged. I guess I can relate to movies like “Grosse Point Blank” a little better now (especially since my 10 year High School reunion is coming up next year), because they deal with issues that are more suited to me. Cusack, into his thirties now, still delivers some memorable performances and it’s with his latest “High Fidelity” that just might hit a bit too close to home for some of us. High Fidelity is really nothing more than a diary of one Rob Gordon. Rob is in the midst of breaking up with his most current girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle) and in a manner called “breaking the fourth wall” (this is essentially looking straight into the camera and talking to the audience) describes for us, the top 5 most troubling breakups of his life to date…
Rob is the owner of a record store called Championship Vinyl. The store specializes in selling music the way it was before the “digital revolution”, LP’s. While not the most successful store in the Chicago area, it provides Rob with an income, but not much more. Rob’s two “employees”, Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black) are essentially just customers of the store who won’t leave. Though annoying to Rob, they provide him with companionship and someone to talk music with. The whole movie is about Rob trying to justify and figure out what has happened with his latest love. Laura is set on being a successful lawyer, and it’s finally gotten to her that Rob has no ambitions for the future. As Rob starts off recounting the girlfriends of the past, he tries to catch up with them now, only to find that they have all gone on with their lives. Some single, some married but Rob manages to dissect what went wrong with all of his previous relationships only to figure out what to salvage with his most current one.
The main theme, aside from relationships, is music. It’s the common tie that has held true to Rob and all his previous encounters. Weather it’s organizing his record collection chronically or debating with Barry and Dick about what the best number one track of a record is, music plays a very important part in Rob’s life. I have to admit that I (and probably a LOT of you out there) can really relate to this movie on one level or another. The soundtrack is great, which I went out and bought, and features tracks from Bob Dylan, The Kinks and Velvet Underground just to name a few. Also, be on the lookout for several cameos by some other stars. Tim Robbins, Sara Gilbert, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack and Lisa Bonet all have small, but important parts in this movie. Odds are that if you liked Grosse Point Blank, this will be right up your alley as well. Now I must digress…I bought the soundtrack on CD and not LP!
Video: How does it look?
One of the things that High Fidelity has received attention for is that parts of it were inserted into some of the recent “Toy Story” discs. Though only a few seconds of the movie was actually viewable and the image was scrambled, it got some press nonetheless. Nevertheless, the real image on High Fidelity is very sharp and vivid. Disney has finally got it down. We wanted anamorphic transfers and they have finally started delivering them (on their new titles, at least). The 1.85:1 image looks great, and most of the movie is set in very controlled surroundings or at darker nightclubs. The image shows a little grain here and there, but for the most part, it’s a very good transfer. Edge enhancement is noticeable in a few spots, and the black levels are right on. Chalk this up as another good transfer for Disney.
Audio: How does it sound?
Obviously a movie whose central theme is music, should have a soundtrack that really rocks. This does…sort of. The soundtrack features some great songs, but a lot of them are drowned out by dialogue, though at times all 5.1 channels are ablaze with any number of great songs. Dialogue is clean and has no distortion, and for the most part the actions are limited to the front three channels. There are times, the thunderstorm scene at the end for example, where the sound is very dynamic and it surprised even me…overall, not a bad mix and it does justice to some of the songs that play a part in the movie.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Ok, ok…now we’re talkin here. As mentioned above, Disney seems to be getting the picture when it comes to supplements on their new DVD’s. In addition to a trailer, there are close to a dozen deleted scenes, and the most notable (which I felt should be included in the movie) contains one with yet another cameo by Beverly D’Angelo. However, it’s clear to see why a majority of them were left on the cutting room floor. Also included is a conversation with John Cusack and Director Stephen Frears. Broken down into segments, both have a high respect for each other and it sheds a little more light on the movie. I wish they would have gone ahead and included a commentary track, but this is just enough to keep you satisfied if you’re a fan of the movie at all. All in all, this is a nice little disc here and it has just enough supplemental material to leave you wanting more. However, the next time you break up with your significant other, pop this movie in…you’re not alone and, it would seem, there’s hope! At the very least you’ll be seeing a great movie with a great soundtrack.