PictureThis disk provides us with a lovely, crisp presentation of the film. The close up of Olive's face in the opening scene is superbly clear and detailed, without a trace of artificiality. This sets the tone for the rest of the movie. All the scenes, whether outdoors in sunshine or indoors, are sharp and full of natural colour. At the pageant itself, the compere's complexion is visibly waxy and fake, as are the horrific doll-like faces of the young contestants. The viewer's response here is key at this point in the film and the clarity of the image means we get the full effect.
It may be 'only' standard definition, but the quality of this DVD is better than some older material on HD DVD I've seen lately.
SoundThe movie's subject matter doesn't lend itself to a particularly dramatic surround sound experience, but all the same it is an immersive one. Like the picture, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has a natural and unforced quality that makes it a pleasure to sit through. It's also surprisingly meaty at times with a decent amount of bass, though this is mainly down to the choice of music. For a low-profile title such as this, it is very nice work.
ExtrasDirectors' commentary with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
These two clearly enjoy one another's company. They reminisce as much as they describe, but the end result is a gently entertaining and informative guide to the film and the experience of the shoot. It was particularly interesting to learn that one of the key scenes toward the end of the film was completely re-shot at the end of the day after a huge amount of trouble and money was expended attempting something far more ambitious. It just goes to show you can plan things to the nth degree, but still need the ability to think on your feet when something just doesn't work.
To sit through a commentary track after watching a movie is an indulgence for a viewer, but a good one can add enormously to the appreciation of the film. If you enjoyed the movie then this commentary definitely adds value.
Screenwriter's commentary with Michael Arndt plus Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
More reminiscing and debate about the characters and particular scenes, etc. The added dimension this time is hearing Michael Arndt's thoughts on the directors' interpretation of his screenplay. For film fans, this is pure luxury.
Four alternate endings with optional directors' commentary
Nothing dramatic, but still insightful.
Music video “Till The End of Time” by DeVotchka
VerdictThis film has a heart: it allows us to laugh at the Hoovers, but at the same time to like them. It is truly well written as it grants us space to make our own minds up about families, society, competition, risk and reward, and just plain dumb luck, but still convinces us that its point of view is the fair one. But most of all it is a good comedy. You will laugh a lot and recommend it to your friends. Top film.
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