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Paramount Home Video presents
Some Kind of Wonderful: Special Collector's Edition (1987)

"It's better to swallow pride than blood."
- Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: August 29, 2006

Stars: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson
Other Stars: Craig Sheffer, Lea Thompson, John Ashton
Director: Howard Deutch

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (adult situations)
Run Time: 01h:34m:33s
Release Date: August 29, 2006
UPC: 097360422047
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ AB-B B+

DVD Review

John Hughes has worn many hats through the years; behind more than 35 films in his illustrious career, he often wrote, produced, and directed his pictures. For 1987's Some Kind of Wonderful, Hughes wrote the script and produced, but chose to sit back and let Howard Deutch (Pretty in Pink) direct. Despite handing over the reins, this underappreciated story still has that Hughes feel through and through.

Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) is an intelligent high school student who works as an auto mechanic to presumably save money for college. While his dad (John Ashton) constantly pressures him to get a secondary education, Keith has designs on being an artist and living his life on his own terms. His best friend is the tomboyish Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), and, despite her advice against it, Keith pines for the affection of the popular Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson). When Amanda discovers that her current boyfriend, Hardy (Craig Sheffer), is seeing another girl, she decides that going on a date with Keith is a good means of revenge. While the date doesn't go as anyone planned, it does change the paths of three lives.

Despite all of the '80s clichés, Some Kind of Wonderful still stands up nearly 20 years later. After many attempts to pinpoint the special "it" that makes everything work so well, this new special edition DVD finally enlightened me. It's the cast, particularly Stoltz and Masterson that make it gel. Despite reports of Deutch and Stoltz not getting along on the set, the latter gives one of his best (albeit whiniest) performances as a misunderstood kid who is just trying to figure out what he should do after high school. Masterson is a real find here. Thompson, Sheffer, and a young Elias Koteas are also solid, acting well beyond their years.

It's amazing, the little things you find in a film that you haven't seen in over a decade. Aside from the "look how young they are" and "I didn't know they were in that!" moments, thanks in large part to my age at the time of its release, I had not caught on to the lesbian angle that is hinted at with the Watts character. Aside from Duncan's direct harassment and name-calling, we are seemingly led to believe that this tomboy is pining for Amanda's affections instead of Keith's. It becomes obvious, late in the film, that this was Deutch simply misleading us, and now, seeing the film with the understanding of a thirty-year-old, it does add another effective element to the proceedings.

The soundtrack also holds a special place in my heart as it served as my introduction to the alternative/indie-rock genre that I still love. One of the first CDs I ever owned, this collection of songs is perfectly placed throughout the film, culminating in an unforgettable closing moment involving the opening drum beat of Lick The Tins' cover of Can't Help Falling in Love. The great music continues with cuts from Flesh for Lulu and the Jesus and Mary Chain, to name a few. Some Kind of Wonderful might not rank high on everyone's list of John Hughes films, but as a bona fide child of the '80s, it sure is high on mine.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: While not the shiny, flawless transfer that many recent films benefit from, this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is definitely an improvement over the film's other home video incarnations. Despite a bit too much grain, much has been cleaned up, including any dirt or other fixable print flaws. There's adequate image detail, and sharpness is decent. The rather bland color scheme is well-rendered nonetheless, while black levels are impressive.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchyes
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: We have both the film's original stereo audio mix, as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The main difference between the two is more liberal use of the surrounds in the 5.1 mix for the great soundtrack. This reason alone makes it the track of choice, but crisp, clear dialogue on both keep them almost equally viable options.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller...Bueller...Edition, Failure to Launch, Totally Awesome
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Howard Deutch and Lea Thompson
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. John Hughes Time Capsule - John Hughes interviewed by Kevin Bacon
Extras Review: This new collector's edition features some great supplements fans will enjoy, including an audio commentary with director Howard Deutch and star Lea Thompson. This husband and wife, who met on the set of this film, talk extensively about the production as well as some nice musings on the soundtrack.

There's a trio of featurettes, beginning with the nearly eight-minute The Making of Some Kind of Wonderful. This is a great collection of old and new interviews and clips from the film that explores some of the same topics covered in the commentary. Some new info is covered as well, including Deutch's clash with Eric Stoltz, which is interesting and candid.

Meet the Cast is a 13-minute piece that goes even more in-depth via numerous interviews, again, old and new. The last is the five-minute The Music is well-worth checking out thanks to the film's groundbreaking collection of songs.

The John Hughes Time Capsule is a 1986 interview of John Hughes, conducted by actor Kevin Bacon. There's some nice reflection on Hughes' career, but it would have been nice to see a more recent discussion with the filmmaker as well. There's also a photo gallery and collection of previews for other Paramount releases.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Among the surplus of John Hughes films, this often overlooked gemstands as his most intelligent and heart-felt picture, easily the most engaging. After a long wait, Paramount Home Video has finally given the film the special edition treatment and the result is improved audio and video, as well as a decent collection of nostalgic extras.

 


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