Hollywood News Made into a Movie
The package is pretty basic. Standard jet black jewel case -- easily replaceable if damaged. The cover is the same as the movie poster. The spine has thumbnails of Billy Crystal and Julia Roberts' heads at the top, "America's Sweethearts" typed out in the middle and just below that, headshots of Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack. The back has a few stills images from the film, a synopsis, credits, and a list of specifications and extras. Like I said, pretty basic.
On the inside is the disc, one-sided with no artwork but instead a solid red coating. There is also a very thin booklet that comes with it. Hardly a booklet, more like a fold-out. Front has an alternate poster artwork from the DVD cover, back has the Scene Selections listing. Open that and a few notes on how this film project started and came together are included.
When you pop in the DVD the Columbia Pictures intro plays and immediately after cuts to the first menu. Here, you can select to watch the movie in either Widescreen or Fullscreen. The obvious choice for me would be Widescreen, but it's always nice to have the other option.
After selecting your preferred format the main menu comes up. The four main characters' full bodies are shown in front a imitation Hollywood sign background with "America's Sweethearts" in the same font and in place of the Hollywood sign. Everything is still except for two spotlights that wave around behind the cast and for an excerpt of the score that plays for about 30 seconds and then loops. This layout for a menu is common to have the movie play automatically after a certain amount of time, but that is not the case here.
The menu have five different areas to click on with an animated bag of popcorn as the selection unit. There's "Play Movie", "Audio Set Up", "Subtitles", "Scene Selection" and "Special Features." The whole reason for even reviewing this set is for the Special Features so let's cover that next.
This is how the extras are listed on the back of the DVD:
- Digitally Mastered Audio & Anamorphic Video
- Presented in both WIDESCREEN and FULLSCREEN Versions
- Languages: English 2-Channel (Dolby Surround) and 5.1 (Dolby Surround), French
- Subtitles: English, French
- Deleted Scenes with Director's Introductions
- Theatrical Trailers
- Production Notes
The Widescreen presentation is a letterboxed 2:40:1 and 16x9 enhanced.
There are three trailers that come in this set. One for America's Sweethearts (2:31), one for My Best Friend's Wedding (2:31), and one for The Mask of Zorro (3:13).
The deleted scenes are set up a little funny. There is an option to watch any of the cut scenes with "Director's Commentary." On the back of the DVD case it stated very clearly that there were "Introductions" before these scenes. Well, there are. Click on any of the scenes with "Commentary" on and director Joe Roth talks about why the scene was cut before it starts. There is no commentary while the scene is playing. With a little trust I find out that you only have to press "On" for the Director's Commentary once to be able to watch any of scenes with the there introduction. Only reason I kept pressing "On" was because there is no Play All option for the deleted scenes. There are five clips and these are the choices...
"Hector's taking a bath" - Scene 67 (0:53; 1:59 with Introduction): The first seven seconds of Hank Azaria in the bath was kept in the movie. The rest shows a young, clumsily awkward girl lift here head out of the bath over Hank's private area after Azaria shouts in rage. She thinks his sudden lunge of disapproval had to do with her retainer. She goes on and on mouthing off when Azaria decides to leave the room, stop her and say a complimentary speech to her about the time they've spent together. After all that he's finishes off by saying "...and get out." This scene was removed do to the negative reactions by women and the potential R-rating it would have on the film.
"Eddie calls his Wellness Guide" - Scene 90-91 (1:07; 1:59 with Introduction): This scene brings back Alan Arkin driving on the Vegas strip (in the Cadillac he was promised early in the final cut of the movie) being called by John Cusack to for advice on having dinner with Gwen. This scene was removed because it took place before the mutual dinner with Julia Roberts and would have slowed down the relationship built between them.
"Leaf surprises Eddie" - Scene 107 (1:30; 2:38 with Introduction): If you've seen the film you might be asking "who is Leaf?" Leaf is the daughter of Christopher Walken's character Hal Weidmann who stands up during the end of the film to say that she had sex his Gwen current boyfriend, Hector (Hank Azaria). Apparently in this scene she also had relations with Eddie (John Cusack). Kerri Lynn Pratt who plays Leaf barges into Eddie's hotel room all jumpy and starts to makeout with Eddie who had just woken up out of bed with Kathleen. This was one of Joe Roth's favorite scenes to shoot, but was cut out because of how unforgiving it would be to Gwen and Kathleen and that it made no logical sense to the audience. It seemed like a wise choice too since it was so out of place and worked better for the Leaf character to save her for the end of the film.
"Hal gets towed" - Scene 68 (0:45; 1:53 with Introduction) Hal is stranded in the desert after his car breaks down and gets towed by a Hispanic who can't understand anything Hal is saying to him. One of the gaffers played the tow truck operator. Joe Roth tried to place this scene in five different areas of the second act to keep Walken alive in the movie, but eventually cut out because of how absurd it was. It was also better left out in my opinion because without it we see less of what's going on with Hal which speaks more to his persona and who he is as a filmmaker.
"Danny schmoozes Hal" - Scene 131 (1:09; 2:25 with Introduction): Danny pours his heart out after the premiere to Hal about how much he admires him. Just like "Hall gets towed" this scene was written on the set of the film in a day and shot after Walken's final scenes in the original script were shot. This scene was cut because it was absurd and got in the way of a resolution.
With every introduction, Joe Roth talks a little about the other cut scenes and at the end of "Danny schmoozes Hal" he says he hoped we enjoyed this scenes which leads into an on-the-set recording of Julia Roberts saying "Thanks everybody. I'll miss you all." So, again, I am not happy there wasn't a Play All option.
Last of the features are the Filmographies and Production Notes. Both these features are included under Filmographies on the DVD. There are notes for Joe Roth, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Crystal, John Cusack, and Hank Azaria. This seemed more suitable to be included in the booklet with this set. Any extras that require reading paragraphs of uncharted info on a monitor or TV screen is better suited on paper.
The film itself is not bad. It's definitely a chick flick, but a chick flick written by Billy Crystal is just wonderful to watch. There's a lot of predictable moments and cringe-worthy scenes and once I got past that I had a blast with the script and the characters. It's worth a watch just for a carefree couple of hours of fun.
Well, that's it you guys. Hope you all enjoyed my review. Again, I know it's been sometime since my last one, but I guarantee more are on the way. Thumbs it up if you liked it and please leave me a comment below telling me what you thought or if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!
-- John H., the Space Cowboy