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Anchor Bay presents
Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)

"When all hope is lost, call for reinforcements!"
- Zach (Ian Giatti)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: Helen Hunt, Sarah Jessica Parker
Other Stars: Shannen Doherty, Lee Montgomery, Jonathan Silverman
Director: Alan Metter

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: PG for (mild language and suggestive humor)
Run Time: 01h:27m:18s
Release Date: January 30, 2001
UPC: 013131126594
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C+BB+ D-

DVD Review

Girls Just Want to Have Fun stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Janey Glenn, a Catholic school girl in Chicago whose strict military father (Ed Lauter) frowns upon her secret desire to join the cast of "Dance TV," a local pop music dance program. She makes friends with the free-spirited Lynne (Helen Hunt), finds a talented, handsome dance partner in Jeff (Lee Montgomery), and begins her first steps toward independence and her dream of dancing fame.

The 1985 film's title was inspired by Cyndi Lauper's pop hit, in the grand tradition of such movies as You Light Up My Life, Ode to Billy Joe and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. Fortunately, it seems this was an opportune retitling, rather than a project conceived strictly to cash in on Lauper's song, featured here in an alternate version as covered by another artist (presumably to cut licensing costs).

Girls Just Want to Have Fun benefits enormously from a cast of talented then-unknowns. Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker are credible teenagers, good girls united against the world; Hunt's adult voice and delivery are already in evidence, and Parker shows off her dancing skills to fine advantage. Jonathan Silverman steals the script's best lines as Jeff's dweeby, capitalistic friend Drew, a squeaky-voiced Shannen Doherty makes a cute younger sister, and little Ian Giatti turns in a fun performance as Janey's one-man spy network. Even Lee Montgomery is reasonably credible here, with a good-natured grin and some decent dance moves, and the adult characters are reasonable human beings, not the cardboard authority figures typical of the genre.

There's nothing new under the sun here in terms of plot - it's the same basic story that has fueled teen comedies for decades (trivia note: Production Assistant Rachel Talalay would go on to work on John Waters' similarly-themed Hairspray several years later). Director Alan Metter wisely keeps the tone light and carefree, eschewing teen angst and sexual coming-of-age in favor of giggly, relatively innocent fun. Bad language is almost completely absent and, were it not for a few mildly suggestive jokes, this PG-rated movie would not seem out of place on the Disney Channel - its appeal to pre-teen girls seems all but guaranteed. The script has dated in a good way, with pop-culture references to Cabbage Patch Kids, punk rock and new wave hairstyles, and enough time has passed to make this a nostalgic treasure for its target generation. It's hardly Citizen Kane, but recommended just the same.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay presents Girls Just Want to Have Fun with an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer maintaining the original theatrical aspect ratio, as well as a pan & scan 1.33:1 reformatted full-frame version. The low-budget New World production suffers from grain and softness in a few scenes, but the digital transfer generally looks very nice with bright 80's colors and solid shadow detail. The widescreen version is (as usual) preferable to the pan & scan edition, preserving the dance sequences much more effectively.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Girls Just Want to Have Fun on DVD features two soundtracks, the original theatrical Dolby Stereo surround track as well as a re-engineered Dolby Digital 5.1 mix courtesy of Chace Digital. There isn't a great deal of difference between the two tracks - both feature decent musical bass and more-or-less monophonic surround usage, though separation is ever-so-slightly better in the discreet 5.1 mix than in the matrixed 2.0 version. Given the film's low-budget Dolby Stereo origins, the disc sounds great, clean with competent frequency range.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Anchor Bay's Girls Just Want to Have Fun DVD is pretty bare-bones, though the standard features are handled well, with an ample 28 text-menu chapter stops and the original theatrical trailer in 1.85:1 anamorphic with Dolby 2.0 audio. The trailer is a fun inclusion, since it plays up the comic aspects of the movie under its original pop marketing-driven title, Girls Just Want to Have Fun: The Movie! There's nothing else to see here, though it's hardly surprising that Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker couldn't be drafted for commentary duties.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Girls Just Want to Have Fun is an old-fashioned, family-friendly 80's teen comedy featuring credible, light-hearted performances from an up-and-coming cast. Anchor Bay's DVD features a solid widescreen transfer, providing fans with the best home presentation ever, and I can easily recommend a rental to anyone willing to grin and go with the flow.


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