Sometimes, when I am writing my review and I come to the “genre” section, I wish I could find an entry marked “crap”. If there was ever a serious film effort that deserved such an entry, this is it. Let’s be honest… made for TV movies have a bad reputation for a reason. For that matter, so do films that have child actors as their star. This film suffers from the unenviable fate of being both. Mary Tyler Moore and Burt Reynolds may be on the cover, but the kid is in nearly every frame of the film.
This is on… of those sickly-sweet TNT movies that have been produced time and time again (though they usually seem to show up on CBS). The plot is a familiar one. An older divorced woman (Moore) takes in her free-spirited granddaughter, and the little girl’s presence melts her hardened heart. The point is a simple one, but it takes this meandering film a long, long time to get there. I have heard of films that go nowhere fast, but this one goes nowhere slow. The pace is even more broken up with the added necessity of commercial breaks, which sometimes show up at awkward times.
This is obviously a film whose only purpose is to make some extra walking around money for Moore and Reynolds. I can think of no other reason that these two actors would spend so much time working on a haphazard script with such and obnoxious little girl.
There are a lot of problems with the audio on this disc, but one is by far the worst of all. Dolby Stereo was a bad choice for this film, as it is for all true films. The problem with presenting the audio in this format is that it takes everything away from the center speaker, leaving the viewer with dialog that comes from the sides of the room, instead of from the mouths of the actors on the screen. This is unrealistic and very distracting. The use of a mono track would have been much better than this stereo offering, as at least the audio would have come from the screen.
Secondary problems include an overall muddy audio presentation, and a severe problem with tying a sound to its on-screen location. This is a half-hearted effort if I ever saw one.
Not surprisingly, this film is presented in a full screen format. If there was a way to make an inferior product, TNT did their best to find it. However, the original film was in full screen as well, so you really can’t ask any more of the DVD.
What you can ask for, however, is a better video transfer. This is a colorful film, but those colors appear dirty and washed out. In fact, the whole film is a bit on the dull side. The lighting is part of the problem, as it creates halos in some scenes, and shadows in others. Also, there is an odd problem with the digital compression. The faster an object moves, the more blurry it becomes. This transfer could really benefit from a higher bitrate.
On the plus side, however, the picture seems to be blemish free. I can forgive a lot of problems if the picture doesn’t have any scratches, pops or dust, and this one is that. It also has none of the grain problems that are present on so many low-budget films. There are a few good things here, but there should be many more.
There is not a single extra on this disc. In fact, the one-screen menu only has two choices, “play” and “scene selection”. If you are looking for special features of any kind, this is clearly not the disc for you.
This title might make an excellent gift for your grandmother for Christmas. Beyond that, I see no reason why anyone should be allowed to spend money on this atrocity. I have no problem with sweet stories, but this one pulls out every cliché possible. For a similar film with a real message, check out the new Special Edition release of Driving Miss Daisy. Now that is a great film.