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Paramount Studios presents
He Said, She Said (1991)

Laurie: You're shaking. Don't tell me you've never done this before.
Dan: Not with you.

- Elizabeth Perkins, Kevin Bacon

Review By: Daniel Hirshleifer   
Published: November 08, 2001

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Perkins
Other Stars: Nathan Lane, Sharon Stone, Anthony LaPaglia
Director: Ken Kwapis, Marisa Silver

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:55m:38s
Release Date: October 23, 2001
UPC: 097363234340
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C C-BC+ B-

DVD Review

It seems like an interesting premise: the story of a relationship, told from the man's perspective, and then retold from the woman's. Not only that, have a male director direct the male sequence, and a female direct the female sequence. Then snag Kevin Bacon, Nathan Lane, and Sharon Stone to be in it. Sounds like a winner to me. How could it have gone so wrong? I'd say three things brought down He Said, She Said, the writing, the choice of events to portray from each perspective, and Elizabeth Perkins.

Dan Hanson (Kevin Bacon) is a right-wing, immature, reactionary, womanizing journalist for the Baltimore Sun, who happens to have a cubicle across from Lorie Bryor (Elizabeth Perkins), a liberal intellectual. The two don't get along, and their ire is even more firmly entrenched when they have to compete for the Op-Ed page. Not being able to decide whom to choose, the editors decide to print both columns. The gimmick is a hit, and Lorie and Dan hit it off with each other. Soon Wally Thurman (Nathan Lane) offers them a spot on his television news program. However, just as everything is looking up, something makes the relationship hit the skids. Could it be Dan's sultry long-time friend, Linda (Sharon Stone)? Or could it be something else?

I will give credit to Ken Kwapis and Marisa Silver for coming up with an intriguing idea: shooting a relationship from two points of view. However, only the idea is intriguing. The movie is just boring. It's not bad, but it certainly isn't good. There isn't one funny line of dialogue in almost two hours. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that this isn't a good situation for a romantic comedy to find itself in. Not even wonderful Nathan Lane could bring a smile to this reviewer's lips. The writing is dull when it needs to be sharp, and relies too much on common clichÈs about men and women.

Something I didn't understand is why the film didn't really stick to its premise. The first half gives us a certain sequence of events, seen through Dan's eyes. Now, the assumption would be that the second half would be almost all of the same events, seen through Lorie's. But no, Lorie's story uses only a few events from Dan's, and then a whole series of new events that we didn't see before. To make matters worse, some of those scenes are really important to their relationship (like when they first sleep together, which Dan's side just glosses over; in fact, Lorie's version is much more sexually explicit than Dan's, oddly). How is the audience supposed to get the humor out of seeing the different ways men and woman view the world if we're not seeing the same events through different eyes? The film defeats itself with this.

Maybe it's just me, but the movie seemed really stilted. Yes, a couple conceived the idea, but it was written by one man, and I think it shows. Dan's side of the story shows both people as rational adults who sometimes get emotional. Both Lorie and himself are seen through something of an objective view, making them both likeable (for the most part), and interesting. Not only that, both of them are seen as being able to grow emotionally. In Lorie's view, she's an emotional wreck, and Dan is emotionally crippled. Only at the end of her story do either seem to show any sort of growth, and then it seems like a giant leap, unlike in Dan's, where the growth was gradual and natural. Is the point here that women are complete messes who can't handle anything but unconditional love from their mates? I don't think that's true, but that's the impression one gets from He Said, She Said.

The final problem comes in the casting of Elizabeth Perkins. I have nothing against Perkins, but here she's not particularly interesting. She's bland, and when half of the main cast is bland, you can almost assure the movie will be, too. She makes Lorie seem like she has no personality, which makes me wonder why Dan even goes after her in the first place. The only personality trait she seems to possess is an over inflated sense of her own political beliefs. Although, I'm sure Lorie's banality is partly due to the weak script.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: He Said, She Said generally looks good, even if it does seem to suffer from late 1980s'/early 1990s' pastel color palettes that end up looking faded just a few years after the fact. No blemishes to speak of, but the diopter shots show up quite clearly (for those who don't know, a diopter shot is where an object in the foreground and the background are simultaneously in focus. This is achieved through a special lens, one half of which focuses on the images in the foreground, and the other half on the background, but in the middle is an area that is out of focus. These areas look muddled on-screen, but it is not a fault of the DVD, or even a fault of the source material. It is not a fault at all... rather, it is a function of the diopter lens).

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: While the case says He Said, She Said comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, you could have fooled me. Usually, in a 5.1 mix, the rears are used for more than just echoing the dialogue and score (that's right, the score isn't spread evenly across all five channels). Once we accept the fact that this is a front-based mix, then we can at least appreciate that everything sounds clear and clean. Still, I can't tell a difference between the stereo and 5.1 mixes.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Directors Ken Kwapis and Marisa Silver, Writer Brian Hohlfeld, Cinematographer Stephen H. Burum
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:01m:58s

Extras Review: He Said, She Said only has one major extra, but it's a goodie. The commentary is a great mix of behind-the-scenes tales, technical talk, and stories behind the idea for the film. Everyone is very talkative, and you can tell they like being around each other. In fact, the commentary is better than the film. Not good enough to recommend the disc as a whole, but for those He Said, She Said freaks (I know some of you are out there), this is a wonderful addition to your obsession. Also included is the theatrical trailer.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

When good ideas go bad: He Said, She Said.

 


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