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MGM Studios DVD presents
Mermaids (1990)

"I know you're planning a celibate life, but with half my chromosomes that might be tough."
- Mrs. Flax (Cher)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 11, 2001

Stars: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder
Other Stars: Michael Schoeffling, Christina Ricci
Director: Richard Benjamin

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sexual themes and situations)
Run Time: 01h:50m:04s
Release Date: February 06, 2001
UPC: 027616858481
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+A-B+ D+

DVD Review

Okay, I admit up front that I've always adored Winona Ryder (even before I found out that we share the same birthday). But that's not the only reason this picture gets high marks from me. It's a very funny comedy with a sparkling cast and a touch of heart-rending pathos to boot.

While Mermaids is really centered on Winona's character, Cher gets top billing as free-spirited single mom Mrs. Flax. She moves from town to town with her two daughters, Charlotte (Ryder) and Kate (a tiny Christina Ricci), moving on every time a romance doesn't work out or something just doesn't suit her. Her desire for escape takes the family to East Port, Massachusetts in 1963, where they meet Lou Landsky (Bob Hoskins), a charming and garrulous shoe salesman. While Kate is a champion swimmer and is happy to spend her life under water, Charlotte is horribly conflicted. Although her family is Jewish, she wants to become a nun and spends her time obsessing about her sins and her lust for the local convent handyman, Joe (Michael Schoeffling). When she actually kisses Joe, Charlotte completely loses herself in faux-Catholic guilt and runs away in search of a father and a perfect family. Along the way, there's plenty of good humor and warmth that make this a very enjoyable movie.

The whole cast does a splendid job, aside from Schoeffling, who doesn't have a heck of a lot to do besides looking hunky. Ryder in particular is excellent; I'd forgotten how good she was as a youngster, back before she began confusing chain-smoking with characterization. Ricci astonishes in her first role at the age of, what, nine? It's no surprise that she's gone on to a fairly successful career. As always, Hoskins delivers a complete picture of a character with many sides. Even Cher does a stellar job as Mrs. Flax, perfectly cast as a maternally inept sexpot.

Comedian Richard Benjamin's direction is workmanlike. There's nothing particularly flashy here, but the timing is excellent and the story never drags.

As might be guessed from the 1963 setting, the movie has a great soundtrack with tons of fabulous music, making the film highly appealing to those over 30. Unfortunately, this is marred slightly by the obligatory chick-flick 'dancing in the kitchen' scene which never fails to nauseate me in its calculated trigger-tripping. Stop it, already!

Other than that flaw, this is a highly entertaining and highly recommended comedy/drama.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic picture is quite good. Although a little on the soft side, there is not any visible edge enhancement or ringing. Colors are quite good throughout. Black levels vary from excellent to weak, but the picture is consistently watchable. There is some visible grain, but it is not present to a distracting degree. Overall, very nice.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround audio is very pleasing. There is no hiss or noise present, and the surround channel is solid and forceful without being overbearing or obnoxious. Dialogue is consistently clear and mostly center-oriented. Music comes through without distortion and with excellent range and bass levels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc's sole extra is a theatrical trailer in good condition, presented in anamorphic widescreen. Chaptering is barely adequate. The French and Spanish subtitles are nice, but when will MGM return to providing English subtitles as well? Grr....

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

A very highly recommended comedy-drama, given a very nice transfer, though lacking in extras. Just ignore the 'dancing in the kitchen' finale.


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