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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - March, 2014

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"Fried Green Tomatoes" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

While visiting a relative at a nursing home, Evelyn (Bates) meets Ninny (Tandy) and is suddenly drawn into her fascinating stories about life in Whistle Stop, Alabama. The tale revolves around a friendship between Idgie (Masterson) and Ruth (Louise-Parker) who have some unique adventures together. Ruth marries an abusive husband and Idgie sets out to rescue her and her newborn baby. When the husband comes looking for his family in Whistle Stop, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. Ruth and Idgie run a café together selling, of course, fried green tomatoes (served hot!) as their signature dish.

As Ninny tells the story, Evelyn is inspired to pull herself out of the rut her life has become. She works to improve her marriage, lose weight, and take control of her surroundings. Finally, when Ninny’s house is condemned, Evelyn takes her into her home.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 1991, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 17 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
  • English, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary Louise-Parker
  • Directed by Jon Avnet
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Brief
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This is a fascinating film that had tremendous staying power in its day and makes one wonder why it hasn’t been transferred to Blu-ray before now. It was nominated for two Oscars; one for Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Tandy) and one for Best Screenplay. If you enjoy a good story, this movie will occupy a fun two hours and change. This release has seven minutes of added footage but I couldn’t determine where the new material was. The flow and pacing of the plot is excellent. It’s one of those films where you don’t realize two hours have passed by the end. Highly recommended.

Technical

The image quality is somewhat raw as well as a touch soft. There is no evidence of digital scrubbing or major restoration. While the print is clean, there is plenty of film grain; especially in wide-angle shots and outdoor scenes. The color palette ranges from warm in the flashbacks to a cooler presentation in the present-day material. Everything looks natural and nicely saturated although there is a bit of red push in the flesh-tones. Nighttime scenes look a little murky with some crushing of detail. Fortunately there is no edge enhancement used.

No potential is untapped in the excellent DTS-HD Master Audio encode. Dialog and sound effects are crystal-clear and correctly placed and a lush musical score helps to broaden the sound stage. While this isn’t really a subwoofer or surround kind of movie, I felt this was one of the best soundtrack restorations I’ve heard recently.

Extras

Bonus features include a 65-minute making of documentary, audio commentary from director Jon Avnet, a collection of recipes pulled from the story, production stills, script excerpts, and deleted scenes. All in all, it’s a very complete set of extras.