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Paramount Studios presents
Cousins (1989)

Tom: So what do you think of that wine, Vince?Vince: Well, Tom, let me put it this way. I would rather have a case of the clap than a case of this wine.
- William Peterson, Lloyd Bridges

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: February 21, 2002

Stars: Ted Danson, Isabella Rosselini
Other Stars: Sean Young, William Peterson, Lloyd Bridges
Director: Joel Schumacher

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual situations, language
Run Time: 01h:52m:32s
Release Date: January 15, 2002
UPC: 097363218142
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+B D-

DVD Review

Perhaps more so than any other film that I can recall having seen, Joel Schumacher's Cousins is in love with the idea of being in love. There are no fewer than three weddings, innumerous declarations, and even one small story line about love from afar. This is not to say that the film's infatuation love is wrong in any way, as it is refreshing to find a story that is more concerned with the elements of love than its melodramatic and carnal facets.Maria (Rossellini) and Larry (Danson) are perfect strangers until the marriage of her mother and his uncle makes them distant cousins, the only thing the two have in common. She is married to a womanizing car salesman named Tom (Peterson), while Larry's marriage to Tish (Young) is low on excitement and high on dramatics. Tish and Tom are suspected of having an affair when they vanish from the wedding, returning several hours later with a lame excuse that the car had broken down. Larry dismisses the thought of his wife cheating, but Maria is rattled by the events and begins to spend time with Larry as a sort of harmless revenge, aimed at her cheating husband. Soon, feelings of something more than friendship surface.Adapting the story from the 1975 French film Cousin, cousine, director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Stephen Metcalfe have really done nothing more than copy the script from the original, though there are some changes present in this Americanized version. I enjoyed the ways in which Maria and Larry dance around the issues of love and romance with their dialogue and body language, and was happy that the script saves us from the obligatory "emotional breakdown that turns into erotic cinema" scene that has haunted other similar scripts. Yeah, that's right Random Hearts, I am talking to you.Above all, it is the celebration of love that allows Cousins to reach beyond the trappings of other romantic films. I like that the script does not follow the standard formula of having a "meet cute," then a fight, and ultimately, reconciliation. The casting is also inspired: the beautiful Rossellini is perhaps the standout of the crowd; her performance as Maria has a simple sweetness that, when coupled with her range of emotion, is completely winning. Danson's work is enjoyable, though perhaps not on par with his co-star. Through it all, Danson does craft a likeable character that is good hearted, and most importantly, has nice chemistry with Rossellini. Supporting performances by William Peterson and Lloyd Bridges, as the adulterer and crazy Uncle, respectively, are also standouts.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this film looks great, thanks to a good anamorphic transfer. Although print flaws are present from time to time, they never distract. Edge enhancement is slight in some scenes, while sharpness and detail are remarkably well done. This brings us to the colors, which are easily the most vibrant and beautiful of any previous home release of the film. In the lush outdoor scenes, set in what appears to be the midst of autumn, there is not one moment where the colors appear to bleed or have any sort of flaw. A great transfer for a film that is over a decade old.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English and Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: As a romantic drama, there is little to expect from the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, though what is here is of nice quality. The split surrounds achieve only a few moments of activity when the score sweeps through the room or when slight ambient sounds create the atmosphere of a busy street. Dialogue is clean and crisp, while the left and right speakers do a fine job of recreating a strong front soundfield.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: A themed, static menu system, as well as 16 chapter stops, make up the features for this disc.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

While not amongst the great movie romances, there is something undeniably touching—and dare I say heart-warming—about Cousins that captured me. The DVD from Paramount is without any extra features, but the transfer is nice and the audio is above average.


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