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New Line Home Cinema presents
Town & Country (2001)

Porter: Are you having an affair?
Griffin: No..ha ha ha ha..no...he he he ha ha ha...yes.

- Porter (Warren Beatty) and Griffin (Gary Shandling)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: October 11, 2001

Stars: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Andie MacDowell, Gary Shandling
Other Stars: Jenna Elfman, Natassja Kinski, Goldie Hawn
Director: Peter Chelsom

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and brief language
Run Time: 01h:44m:41s
Release Date: October 16, 2001
UPC: 794043535420
Genre: comedy


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

DVD Review

To read about the numerous problems involved in the making of Town & Country, one might think the picture to be a sure sign of a coming apocalypse. Yet after numerous release date changes and a budget that ballooned to a reported eighty million, the end result is certainly not quality filmmaking; reports that the film is "all over the map" are accurate. The big question has been whether or not the ten reels of film stolen from a van during production contained footage that was of the highest quality. For those curious, I can only offer this: Even the lost footage from Orson Welles classic The Magnificent Ambersons couldn't save Town & Country.

Porter Stoddard (Beatty), is a wealthy New York architect living his life to the extreme. As the film opens, Porter and his wife Ellie (Keaton) have just returned from an extended vacation in Paris with their close friends, Griffin (Shandling) and Mona (Hawn). Like most characters their age in comedies, Porter and Griffin are struggling with a mid-life crisis, which in this case means cheating on their spouses and crossing the country en route to Griffin's country cabin, where Porter shares a bed with numerous women (Elfman, MacDowell, Kinski).

Town & Country suffers from having no coherent purpose. At times it feels as though large sections are missing, leaving one to wonder if an actual machine or a psychopath with a machete was used in the editing of the film. For most of its mercifully short running time, Town & Country stumbles from one scene to the next before reaching its predictable conclusion, without any sort of form. Even several characters appear and reappear for no real reason, though most seem to be in the film only to wind up sharing a bed with Beatty.

It is no secret that I have bemoaned the lack of quality produced by overly talented filmmakers in many of my previous reviews, but Town & Country seems to be my poster child for the argument. Written by Buck Henry (!) and directed by Peter Chelsom (The Mighty, Serendipity), Town & Country should, for all intents and purposes, be masterful. Instead, it plays like low-rent dinner theater attempting to channel Woody Allen. Intended as a modern day sex farce, Town & Country lacks the qualities of its predecessors, leaving behind a mess that has no purpose.

For years, Warren Beatty has been Hollywood gold; making classics including Reds and Heaven Can Wait, he has cemented himself as one of the best actors of his generation. In Town & Country, it seems as though he is trying too hard to rekindle the spirit of films like Shampoo or Splender In The Grass—instead we get the Beatty of Ishtar. For evidence that Beatty may be losing his mind, look no further than a scene in which he mambos with a Marilyn Monroe look-alike (Elfman) while dressed in a bear costume.

Performances by former Beatty loves Hawn and Keaton are fine, though Hawn is becoming increasingly more annoying as she goes along. Gary Shandling plays the best friend role well, making apparent the friendship he and Beatty share off screen. Finally, perhaps the surest sign that Town & Country fails is that the best performance comes via a gun toting Charlton Heston.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Though the plot is a bit of a mess, the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer by New Line for Town & Country is a delight. Sharpness and detail are perfect, with the countryside looking terrific as Porter and Griffin move across country. No edge enhancement is noticeable nor are there any glaring print flaws.

A full frame version of Town & Country is also offered.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, Town & Country sounds a bit better than other comedies released on DVD. Ambient sounds of New York fill the room wonderfully from the rear speakers, and dialogue sounds fine with no distortion.

An English Dolby 2 channel mix is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: The original theatrical trailer for Town & Country, as well as cast and crew filmographies are provided.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Though not the complete disaster that Hollywood buzz might lead you believe, Town & Country is one of the less likable films I have seen in some time. The DVD from New Line is of their usual quality, and to their credit it is nice to see a box office bomb released as a bare bones disc instead of the full-fledged special editions other studios release for such failures.

 


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