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Universal Studios Home Video presents
DVD Review"I just knew Idgie'd never get out of this mess." - Ninny Threadgoode
While dismissed by many as a chick flick, Fried Green Tomatoes, based on Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, is a film that I always find rewarding. It centers around the endearing tales of friendship and courage of the four principle characters in two parallel storylines, one in the present, one in the past. The characters are complex and real, and even if somewhat exaggerated, the story is one that can be viewed repeatedly with no diminishment of its enjoyability.
Kathy Bates stars as Evelyn Couch, a disgruntled housewife looking to liven up her marriage through self-improvement courses, to the complete disinterest of her textbook couch potato of a husband Ed (Gailard Sartain), who is perfectly content to set himself in front of a ball game with a beer and a chicken dinner with a good scald on it. While visiting Ed's disagreeable aunt in a nursing home, Evelyn befriends Ninny (Jessica Tandy), an elderly resident, who, during their visits, recounts a compelling murder mystery and the heartwarming story of two women back the 1930s.
Told in flashbacks and steeped in the racial prejudices of the time, their tale begins when tomboy Idgie Threadgoode's (Mary Stuart Masterson) older brother Buddy (Chris O'Donnell) is accidentally killed. Some years later, the refined and proper Ruth Jamison (Mary-Louise Parker), Buddy's former girlfriend, returns to Whistle Stop, Alabama at the request of Idgie's mother. The young women are worlds apart in character, but they soon grow to love and respect each other, eventually opening the Whistle Stop Café together after Ruth leaves her abusive husband (Nick Searcy as Frank Bennett). But when Nick turns up missing, suspicion falls on the regulars at the café.
After dismissing one writer, and Fanny Flagg's subsequent withdrawal from the screenplay process, director and producer Jon Avnet took up the challenge to write this remarkable script. The dual storylines blend perfectly, with the compelling mystery surrounding the murder of Frank Bennett, and Evelyn's current-day empowerment running in parallel. The direction is all but flawless (it's understandably a little more indulgent in this cut), and the performances by the large ensemble cast are impeccable.
Tandy and Bates are wonderful together, and despite the dramatic events unfolding in the tale of the past, the contemporary sequences are filled with humor, from Evelyn's daydreams of enticing her husband by wrapping herself in cellophane to her run-in with a pair of cocky young women in a supermarket parking lot. Masterson and Parker have great chemistry, and given their outstanding performances, it is unthinkable that they did not receive more attention for bringing these two women to life.
The extended cut restores or extends a number of sequences cut for the theatrical release, most of which aren't really necessary to tell the story, but further expand this delicious serving of Fried Green Tomatoes.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: The transfer here is looks nice, with rich, saturated colors and decent black levels. Detail is very good throughtout. There is a noticible but natural grain structure. If there is one, the difference is very slight from the previous DVD release.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: New to this release is a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track, which is nicely immersing without being gimmicky, adding a bit more high end clarity to the surrounds compared to the older Prologic mix. Dialogue is clear, and no technical deficiencies noticed.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 43 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Jon Avnet
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
First is a feature commentary by director Jon Avnet, who covers a wide range of topics concerning the film, the characters, and anecdotes about the production. Avnet explains the difficulty in adapting the book, and calls attention to a few of the more noteable scenes.
The (1h:05m:40s) making-of documentary, Moments of Discovery, features Avnet, the four stars, writer Fanny Flagg, along with others involved in the production. There is a moderate amount of overlap from the commentary track.
A stills gallery contains 170 production photographs covering everything from the food to sets and cast. The Poster Campaign features 29 different variations on the theatrical poster. Jon Avnet's Director's Notes are excerpts reprinted from the script.
New to this release are three brief deleted scenes (1m:14s) and a small selection of outtakes (2m:45s).
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsFried Green Tomatoes is one of the finest films in its genre, but apart from the new 5.1 mix, this anniversary re-release will be primarily for those who don't already own the previous DVD of the extended cut.
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