This is without a doubt the ultimate chick flick. Guys who find themselves subjected to the film can take heart in fact that there are a few moments that they will find interesting. Although this film will likely not give you a better understanding of your wife/girlfriend, it will most assuredly provide insight into your mother-in-law. Turns out she really is as crazy as you thought she was. There is also a subdued but pivotal performance by James Garner, who steals practically every scene he’s in with his wonderful “suffering in silence” Shep. There are some genuinely funny moments throughout the film, but it does take some decidedly dark turns in the abundant flashback scenes.
Siddie (Bullock) talks to a reporter from Time magazine about her mother and reveals some unflattering gems about her childhood. The interview sparks a feud with her bitter mother. Enter the Ya Ya sisterhood, three of whom kidnap Siddie in an attempt to help her understand her mother better. Through flashbacks and mementoes Siddie comes to better understand her mother and perhaps herself.
The DVD contains an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. What makes the sound impressive is not an aggressive use of surrounds. The rear channels are almost never used and there is so little bass that my sub went into sleep mode during the film. The true brilliance of the sound is the music. The film has no actual score but makes excellent use of source music ala The Sopranos. The music is always clear and vibrant, mixing well with the film’s dialogue.
There are two commentaries provided on the disc. One track marked as a “filmmaker’s track” includes most of the film’s crew. (Callie Khouri, Lisa Stewart, Bonnie Bruckheimer, Hunt Lowry, Andrew Marcus, and T Bone Burnett) They provide a reasonable amount of behind the scenes information, but there are many gaps in the commentary.
The second commentary I found more interesting and featured Ashley Judd and again director Callie Khouri. This track was far more conversational and provided more insight into the relationships of the cast and crew and what moods the film was trying to create. This track also has several long gaps of silence.
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood is presented in its original theatrical release aspect ratio of 2.35:1. For a film this recent I found the transfer unremarkable and disappointing. There is an abundance of grain visible, particularly in darker interior scenes. I also noticed quite a bit of film artifact, particularly nasty at about 1:13:42.To balance the scales somewhat, you will find the color to be exceptionally bright and accurate. Darks are reasonably solid. Exterior scenes are superior and come much closer to what you would expect from such a recent film. The airplane ride is particularly outstanding as an example.
“Unlocking The Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” is a short feature that relies primarily on interviews with the cast. The film also features text based information on the cast and crew as well as an informative scrapbook of the film. Of course, the theatrical trailer can be found on the disk. A country music video of the featured song rounds out the collection of extras found on the disk. The menus are very simple and quite easy to navigate.
All in all there are some memorable moments in the film. The acting is certainly the best thing about it. There are a few performances that will result in notice at the next Academy Awards ceremony. It should be noted that the film is still very recent and playing in second run theatres at the time of release. Girls will simply love the film. Guys, it’s not really bad but you might find yourself raising your hand when Judd asks: “OK, who wants to drown?”