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Paramount Home Video presents
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990)

"My parents were in the process of opening their carpet store when they acquired me. So I guess it as sort of a natural thing for them to think of me as another piece of carpet. You know, some sort of remnant."
- Dinky Bossetti (Winona Ryder)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: October 11, 2007

Stars: Winona Ryder, Jeff Daniels, Laila Robins
Other Stars: Thomas Wilson Brown, Dinah Manoff
Director: Jim Abrahams

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (brief rear nudity, some language, thematic material)
Run Time: 01h:35m:58s
Release Date: June 05, 2007
UPC: 097363248941
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-B D-

DVD Review

It hardly seems possible any more that Winona Ryder was once considered a promising young actress with a wide range, having been reduced to a punchline and unable to get beyond using cigarettes as a crutch for demonstrating character. But it was indeed once the case, with such pictures as Edward Scissorhands seemingly pointing the way. Perhaps one of her best vehicles as a youngster was this bittersweet drama from Jim Abrahams, and she manages quite nicely to carry the picture.

The town of Clyde, Ohio is in a tizzy about its famous daughter, Roxy Carmichael, coming back to visit for the grand opening of the Roxy Carmichael Center for Cosmetology and Drama. Everyone has different reactions to Roxy's impending return, from prurient interest, to cattiness to a chance to bask in her reflected glory. But two people in particular are more than anyone else affected by the event. Fifteen-year-old Dinky Bossetti (Ryder) is the adopted daughter of the local carpet baron, and while bright she's more than a little unstable, dressing in black and adopting hordes of stray animals when she's not being sent to schools for the socially unacceptable. Alienated from everyone else, she feels a connection to Roxy Carmichael. When she talks to Denton Wells (Jeff Daniels), who once dated Roxy and still loves her even though he now has a wife and kids, Dinky learns that Denton and Roxy had a daughter about fifteen years earlier. Convinced that she is that daughter, Dinky starts pinning all her hopes on a reunion with her real mother, while Denton's marriage begins to fall apart as his wife discovers where his affections truly lie.

Although Ryder's character has more than a few similarities to the proto-Goth in Beetlejuice, Dinky is a far more painfully real portrayal. Suffering under intolerant teachers and surrounded by cruel classmates, she can only relate to an assortment of wounded dogs and pigs, while engaging in a cautious dance of attraction and repulsion with would-be boyfriend Gerald Howells (Thomas Wilson Brown). The connection is finally made with the help of a sympathetic guidance counselor, Elizabeth Zaks (Laila Robins), who refuses to accept Dinky's answers of no, despite exasperation and even open hostility. The two of them have an interesting chemistry that works pretty well, especially when Dinky suddenly starts to learn too much about Zaks' own life.

While one might expect a movie directed by Jim Abrahams (Airplane!) to be full of comedy, the humor is limited to satire of small-town foibles and hypocrisies. But while the caricatures of tasteless tackiness are sometimes a bit overbroad, the pathos of broken dreams keeps them from being quite too ridiculous; there are numerous people in Clyde looking forward to Roxy because she represents the pursuit of something more that they wish they could have brought themselves to do. Even in the depths of conformity, there may be more people than one suspects who want to be individuals. For that matter, even the teenagers tormenting Dinky half-respect her willingness to be her own person, even if it is a messed-up person.

The final result is quite moving and decently sensitive (though how could it be otherwise with a theme song by Melissa Etheridge, I suppose?) The relationships aren't pat or simple, and there's a strong sense of the long shadows that our past can cast over our present. It's about time that this picture finally made it to DVD.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The source print is quite free of defects, and the transfer is nicely detailed, with excellent color definition and shadow detail. It's shot in a somewhat soft light that is attractive without giving a smeary appearance. There's no sign of edge enhancement or compression artifacting.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround audio track is pretty center-oriented, with little surround activity beyond the music. It's a fairly dialogue-heavy film, so there's not a lot of flash here. The music does have good presence, however, with Etheridge's craggy voice coming across well with its characteristic rasp.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Paramount has chosen not to burden the consumer with any cumbersome extras. Chaptering is decent but not exceptional.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

One of Ryder's best performances, supported by a strong and frequently moving script, and a healthy dose of humor. The transfer is excellent though there are zero extras.


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