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Benny & Joon - Blu-ray Review

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Benny & Joon - Blu-ray Review

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3 Stars

As inconsequential as it is, Jeremiah Chechik’s Benny & Joon remains a charming look at one young couple’s handling of love and separation anxiety.  With the opening music provided by the Scottish duo known as The Proclaimers, the mood and spirit of the film definitely belongs to another decade.  The 90s were an interesting time for young people and that angst – as bubbly as the movie presents it at times – is fully realized by the picture.  Yet, in spite of this 90s encampment, Benny & Joon remains a breezy romantic comedy for these modern times.

Starring Aidan Quinn, Julianne Moore, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Johnny Depp, this four-character driven affair balances itself with a stable look at eccentricity.  Maintaining its ‘from a watcher’s point of view sort of thing’, the movie documents the events of two young people falling newly into love against the wiser tides of age and experience.  Benny (Quinn) is struggling to make ends meet as he cares for his schizophrenic sister Joon (Masterson) and the last thing he needs is for Sam (Depp) – who feels he is Buster Keaton reborn – to fall in love with her.

Of course, that’s what happens – even as Benny finds himself tripped up by a waitress named Ruthie (Moore).  Each and every entanglement spirals out of control and makes for a complicated and untidy mess and - from Benny’s point of view – what was at once familiar and comfortable is now laid to waste by Sam’s quiet presence and Ruthie’s constant baiting.  The script is frothy and, while it is true that the performances being the heaviness to the picture, there is seldom a foul note as written by Barry Berman.

The absurd moments this film relishes in – Joon directing traffic with a paddle and, later, making grilled cheese sandwiches on the ironing board with an iron – are part of its charm.  Benny & Joon is all about awkwardness and it explores this note in whimsical and surprising manners.  Sam, ever the quiet one, fancies himself to be caught in the silent comedy and Depp channels Keaton and Charlie Chaplin like a pro.  His replication of the dinner roll dance routine (first captured on film by Fatty Arbuckle and not Chaplin) is a memorable scene of pure pantomime.

Yet, Depp’s performance isn’t the only highlight.  The gentleness of Quinn in his scenes alongside Masterson is a complete winner; he means her no harm in spite of their differences and it is understood that everything is done with her best intentions at his core.  It’s an honest and complicated performance – as is Masterson’s who nails her performance with delicate grace as the misunderstood female in love with the odd man out.

With supporting roles that feature performances by Oliver Platt, William H. Macy, and CCH Pounder, Benny & Joon achieves its misfit poignancy without tipping the boat into the too-sweet-to-taste rivers of honey that surround it.  Predictable but never annoying, Chechik’s film provides a very sane look at the joys of never fitting in.

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{2jtab: Film Details}

Benny & Joon - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: PG
Director
: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Writer: Barry Berman
Cast:
Johnny Depp; Marry Stuart Masterson; Aidan Quinn; Juliann Moore; Oliver Platt
Genre
: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Tagline:
A romance on the brink of reality.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I hope you're happy... I hope you're happy with what you have done to her. "
Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Release Date: April 16, 1993
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 12, 2011

Synopsis: Benny (Aidan Quinn) runs a small car repair shop. He must also take care of his mentally ill sister Juniper, better known as Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). After losing a bet, Benny is forced to bring another eccentric into his house: Sam (Johnny Depp), the cousin of a friend. Not inclined to conversation, Sam expresses himself by performing Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton routines (and brilliantly!) Not surprisingly, he immediately hits it off with Joon. As Sam and Joon fall deeper in love, Benny for the first time in life experiences the pangs of jealousy. As can be gathered by this synopsis, Benny and Joon may not strike responsive chord with everyone; those who like the film, however, are almost militant in their devotion.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Benny & Joon - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 11, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; Blu-ray 3D

The transfer from MGM is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec and, unfortunately, the print used suffers in quality in that it is inconsistent from scene to scene.  Elements of haze and fuzziness impact some of the exterior shots – not all, though.  Contrast is fine and details are clear; the colors are also deep and bright and showcase some fine exteriors from Spokane, Washington.   The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix is relatively low and some fine tuning will be required for optimal listening.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The commentary provided by Chechik is low-key and mainly details character analysis and motivations rather than how the picture was made.

Special Features:

There aren’t a lot, but they are interesting.  The behind the scenes footage showcases Depp’s rehearsals for the dinner roll scene and some of the costume selections by the cast.  There are two deleted scenes, both with commentary detailing why they were cut, and the theatrical trailer is provided.

  • Deleted Scenes (5 min)
  • Behind The Scenes (18 min)
  • The Proclaimers music video
  • Theatrical Trailer

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{2jtab: Trailer}

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