Isn’t She Great

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Jacqueline Susann (Bette Midler) has the drive and ambition to become a superstar and perch herself atop the world of entertainment. But she soon discovers that she needs more than drive and ambition to make it into the big leagues, and whatever she needs to achieve her dreams she seems to be missing. While she tries and tries to crack the system and become a major star, her talent never pushes her into that next level. She does find work in smaller roles and what not, but that doesn’t satisfy her desires and dreams of stardom. So after some time she falls out of public view totally and enters a deep depression, until Irving Mansfield (Nathan Lane) appears and changes her outlook. Mansfield falls for her as soon as he sees her and longs to bring her back into the limelight. But he has trouble with that goal and no matter how hard he tries, she still remains a virtual unknown. The two soon become married and Irving comes up with an idea that might be of help to Jacqueline, she should write a book. And she does just that, writing a scathing novel about the real Hollywood titled Valley Of The Dolls. Now it seems as though she will finally have the fame she sought for so long, but will it make her happy?

When this disc arrived, I was unsure of what to expect since I missed this one at theaters and had heard very little about it. While I am not a big fan of Bette Midler, I do enjoy the performances of Nathan Lane and John Cleese so I held out some hope despite my reservations. After looking at the case and reading a little about the movie I prepared myself for a comedic movie, and this could have been my first mistake. While this film has many comedic moments, it is at heart an emotional tour type of movie that explores characters and their relationships. This is not an idea I am against by any means, but maybe since I was expecting something else it left me feeling disappointed. But when the movie gets good it is very good and can be quite funny. But when the emotions kick in, the movie seems to hit a lull and stall for the most part. I am sure Midler can handle this type of role, but here she seems to fall short of the requirements. If you’re a fan of the cast or movies of this nature then I recommend Isn’t She Great, but I would advise a rental before you plunk down the cash.

This film was directed by Andrew Bergman, who has directed several outstanding and hilarious comedies. His turn behind the camera in this movie is excellent when the material focuses on the comedy, but tends to become watered down during the more emotional moments. But the composition and images always seem in order, so it isn’t like Bergman fell short in terms of technical direction. Bergman has a knack for comedy and I hope he can work on another comedic film very soon. If you want to see more of Bergman’s films I recommend Honeymoon In Vegas, The Freshman, Striptease, and It Could Happen To You. The lead in this film is played by Bette Midler (First Wives Club, Drowning Mona) who turns in a solid but sometimes lacking performance. Her comedic skills work here to perfection, but the emotion seems forced most of the time, which hampers the effect. Where Midler falls short, Nathan Lane (The Lion King, Mousehunt) picks up all the slack in a tremendous performance. Lane shows off his comedic flair once again, but also backs it up with some solid dramatic offerings as well. The excellent supporting cast includes John Cleese (The World Is Not Enough, Monty Python & The Holy Grail), Stockard Channing (Grease, Practical Magic), David Hyde Pierce (Tv’s Fraser, A Bug’s Life), and John Larroquette (Tv’s Night Court, The 10th Kingdom).

Video: How does it look?

Isn’t She Great is presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and full frame transfers, with both on the same side of this dual layered disc. This is a very solid visual presentation, including a pristine source print and totally flawless compression. The colors appear bright and bold within a more natural color scope, with flesh tones retaining normal hues. The contrast is picture perfect also, with no detail loss I could see and complex shadows as well. A few minor issues did emerge, which keeps this from the perfect score in this category.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track won’t wake up your neighbors, but it does offer a terrific soundstage for this film. The surround use is limited but effective, with the soundtrack taking most of the activity. The subtle audio really reinforces the tone and mood of the film and while the speakers won’t shake off the wall, you’ll know they’re being used. The dialogue is the base for the audio however and it sounds crisp and clear, with no volume issues at all.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release contains the theatrical trailer, production notes, and talent files.

Disc Scores