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Bright Lights, Big City: MVD Rewind Collection (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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Bright Lights, Big City (1988) - Blu-ray Review

Michael J. Fox. Kiefer Sutherland.  Phoebe Cates.  Donald Fagen.  That’s right, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame.  Alongside Dianne Wiest and Jason Robards, they are all assembled under the roof of one movie: Director James BridgesBright Lights, Big City.  It is the movie that, while MARRS’ “Pump Up The Volume” plays, Fox, eager to shed his wholesome image as Marty McFly and Alex P. Keaton, does blow in the bathroom again and again and again. 

Set to the tunes written by or handpicked by Fagen, Bright Lights, Big City bounces through the downside of the New York yuppie life with an eagerness to please thanks to Fox’s performance as a young man caught in a downward spiral of alcohol and drug addiction.  Everyone in this movie is rubbing his or her nose.  And for good reason.  The amount of cocaine being snorted off bare naked asses could easily fund a small Columbian army.  

"This is a movie that, for those who have never lived through the 1980s or originally saw it, is a tough haul."

Fox plays  24-year-old Jamie Conway, a fast-rising hard-partying yuppie who has lost his mother to cancer and his model wife to another man, and now spends his evenings in night clubs with a bag of blow in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.  Image shed, dude.  Image shed.  His friends, offering any substance available that he can either drink or shove up his nose, are no help as he struggles to balance work and pleasure and all the ups and downs that come with it. 

With Less Than Zero appearing a year earlier, Bright Lights, Big City makes for one hell of a counterpunch as one writer struggles to make it though ONE night without chemicals.  The movie is a tough one to sit through thanks to all the damn mistakes that Jamie makes throughout the movie.  His life is completely out of control and, because he is not honest with himself, there is no outside force or influence that can steer it clear of all the potholes he keeps hitting. {googleads}

This is a movie that, for those who have never lived through the 1980s or originally saw it, is a tough haul.  It is not amusing.  The engrossing performances – led by a hunger to snort even dust particles in the hopes for cocaine traces – rule the day here.  Fox as an addict.  Sutherland as his pal desperate to lay a Penthouse Pet and so on.  Don’t dive in expecting anything but messy lives and unsettling performances. 

And the music, part jazz and blues and the other part pop and weird funk songs (including a Prince B-side), carry the audience through to the other side of the narrative.  There has to be a sunny day for Fox’s character.  He wants to publish his stories.  But writing takes focus and, right now, that focus is being snorted and eventually drowned out. 

Bright Lights, Big City (1988) - Blu-ray Review

Survive the night life all over again with Bright Lights, Big City, a film that – thanks to the vision of James Bridges (The China Syndrome) and Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa) – still feels relevant.  Hauntingly so.  The MVD Rewind Collection presents Bridges’ final film on blu-ray thanks to a crisp new HD transfer. 

If the talking alien-looking baby in this movie doesn’t freak you out, then maybe the finger-chomping ferret flung about in close quarters will.  Being trapped in the week-long life of a yuppie spiraling into nothingness can be pretty damn interesting . . . from a distance.  Heartbreak Hotel indeed.

3 beers

Bright Lights, Big City (1988) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
107 mins
: James Bridges
Jay McInerney
Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates
: Drama
It's 6.00am. Do you know where you are?
Memorable Movie Quote: "Wanna buy a ferret?"
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 1, 1998
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 20, 2018
Synopsis: Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future) "couldn't be better" (Los Angeles Times) as Jamie Conway, an aspiring writer who abandons the wheat fields of Kansas for the skyline of Manhattan - and the city's seductive party subculture. Hitting the clubs night after night, Jamie soon spins out of control, and he risks losing everything - and everyone he loves.


Bright Lights, Big City (1988) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: MVD Visual
Available on Blu-ray
- November 20, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

MVD Rewind proudly presents Bright Lights, Big City on blu-ray with a detailed-heavy 2K restoration. This new scan is loaded with juicy details as the night life of the 1980s gets the deluxe treatment. Even for a night shoot, this one keeps its edges in check. It has dark layers, yes, and those shadows are well-defined and crisp but the new 1.85:1 aspect ratio does not disappoint. Obviously, the film looks better than ever. Crisp contrasts and solid textures lead the charge in this transfer. Colors are solid, with reds being a standout. Blacks are, too. Surprisingly, there's enough fine detail on display to make this seem revelatory. The era-ready color palette looks terrific, too. The disc comes with a new DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo track.



  • Cinematographer Gordon Willis provides a solid commentary for the new release.  Author/Screenwriter Jay McInerney provides another.

Special Features:

MVD’s Rewind Collection sails on with another great release from the 1980s.  This time the supplementals include two new commentaries, two new featurettes, a photo gallery, and the original theatrical trailer.  The film's poster, smaller and folded, is also included in the case.

  • Commentary with Author/Screenwriter Jay McInerney
  • Commentary with Cinematographer Gordon Willis
  • Jay McInerney's The Light Within" featurette
  • "Big City Lights" featurette
  • Photo Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer


Bright Lights, Big City (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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