Paramount Studios presents
"Dreaming is wonderful, but it won't get you closer to what you want."- Hanna Long (Lilia Skala)
Stars: Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Belinda Bauer, Lilia Skala
Other Stars: Sunny Johnson, Kyle T. Heffner, Robert Wuhl
Director: Adrian Lyne
MPAA Rating: R for (language, nudity, sensuality)
Run Time: 01h:34m:32s
Release Date: 2002-10-08
DVD ReviewWith the benefit of hindsight, one has to admit that all the danger signs were present: a screenplay by Joe Eszterhas and a producer credit for Jerry Bruckheimer. Yes, it's the picture that asks the age-old question, "Can a young woman who welds in a steel mill by day and does exotic dancing by night find happiness in the world of professional dance?" Oh, that wasn't an age-old question? Well, that's too bad because here's the answer.
18-year-old Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) is all of the above, welding and dancing in a strip joint where the women never actually take off their clothes. Oddly enough, the seats are nonetheless occupied. She has long dreamed of dancing in the legitimate ballet, epitomized for her by the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance, encouraged by her friend, aged dancer Hanna Long (Lilia Szabo). She's also in love with the owner of the steel mill, Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri) as she struggles to realize her dream, but on her own terms, refusing to accept his assistance in getting an audition at the Conservatory.
The screenplay is fairly clumsy, with stilted dialogue that seldom rises above trivialities and platitudes. Alex's struggles are paralleled in obvious ways by her friend Jeanie (Sunny Johnson), whose attempts to make a career of skating are wrecked by some ill-timed falls, and would-be comic Richie (Kyle T. Heffner), who talks about going to LA but feels trapped in his job as a cook at the strip joint. One telling cut provides a glimpse of the attitude here, as the camera jumps from Alex doing her routine to a burger on the griddle; as in so many Eszterhas-written pictures, the women are more or less meat on the hoof. On the positive side, the script does have some affirming things to say about taking action to advance one's dreams and not just talking about them.
Beals, in her career-making (if not defining) role, does a fairly creditable job with the material, though she is seldom called upon to do anything beyond look adorable. That, she is certainly capable of. Nouri is passable as the love interest, with a few good moments of frustration at Alex's pigheadedness. The rest of the supporting cast is mostly nondescript, though Philip Bruns as Jeanie's father comes the closest to turning in a well-rounded performance, ranging from gruff disgust to sincere but awkward affection for his daughter.
The film does boast a smorgasbord of early 1980s dance music, should that be of interest. The dancing is well-executed, though some of the club scenes are so strobe-light-infested that they're hard to watch. Otherwise, this is mostly eye candy, best appreciated by those with a fetish for the torn sweatshirts and/or leg warmers that the film made hugely popular in a now mostly forgotten fad.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture looks terrific from start to finish, with the exception of some occasional minor ringing. There is good detail and texture present and color is excellent. Fleshtones are natural. During the church sequence, there is quite a bit of aliasing, but it's not a problem otherwise.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
|DS 2.0||English, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: A new 5.1 mix is provided that is quite enveloping, particularly during the music sequences. Surrounds are quite active also during the steel mill bits, with a good deal of directionality present. Hiss and noise are practically nonexistent; the track is quite clean. The pop music is overly bright, with the treble boosted and the bass and midrange rather lacking, surprisingly enough. However, the classical segments sound fine.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: Other than subtitles, there's not a single extra present here, not even a trailer. Could have at least thrown in a pair of legwarmers from Goodwill....
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA rather silly piece of '80s nostalgia, given an attractive transfer but precisely zero for extras. Bring on the leg warmers!
Mark Zimmer 2003-01-16