A-Pix Entertainment presents
Forever Together (1998)
"Oh, man. But I'm not that good! I'll be embarrassed! I'll be ostracized! I'll be outcast! Well, I already am outcast, but... "- Danny (Bryan Burke)
Stars: Michelle Trachtenberg, Bryan Burke
Other Stars: Ralph Macchio, Rachel Ticotin, Diane Ladd
Director: Richard Friedman
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and some juvenile fighting
Run Time: 01h:31m:00s
Release Date: 2000-08-08
DVD ReviewYou know, once in a while I will watch a movie that I know is cliched and corny, and yet I still can't bring myself to fault the movie for it. As a product of the greedy '80s and the cynical, indifferent '90s, I really should not go for contrived feel good films. Usually I don't—I had to physically suppress my gag reflex when I saw Patch Adams. Which is why no one was more surprised than I (ok, no one else was actually surprised at all) when I popped in the DVD of Forever Together—a film described on the back of the box as "heartwarming"—and actually enjoyed it!
Danny (Bryan Burke) is having a rough time. He just started 7th grade, and he doesn't know how to tell his long time friend Julia (Michelle Trachtenberg) that he likes her. You know. He LIKES her. Meanwhile, at home he has to deal with his mom's first boyfriend after the death of his father as well as his very Italian and eccentric grandma (Diane Ladd), who has just moved in after the death of her husband. Danny really needs help with Julia after a new boy moves in and steals her heart (I guess girls go for that "I failed 7th grade" type). He finds it in the cemetery of all places, where he bumps into the very Italian Hubbie (Ralph Macchio), a "hep-cat" in 1940s garb who teaches him about love and sax - saxophone, that is. Oh, and Danny's grandma is lonely for a long-lost love, who she hasn't seen since an accident - hmm - fifty years ago. Soooo, anyone want to guess how this ends?
Ok, so like I said, the story is a bit cliché. Ok, it is totally cliché. You have seen everything that occurs in this film before. I don't think I am spoiling anything by hinting at the "supernatural" element of the story, considering it was painfully obvious from the get-go. I mean, what healthy guy hangs out in a cemetery? And that's not all. Every episode of Full House is contained somewhere in this movie. The mom-is-dating-after-dad-died plot is basically just tacked on and glossed over. The dance scene at the end of the film wraps up like the end of a Brady Bunch episode—the right guy always gets the girl. Oh, TV, why do you mock me?
The direction is certainly nothing special. Richard Friedman is a TV veteran, and the low-budget look, washed out colors, and cheesy script just scream "movie of the week." The few scuffles between the kids in the film are shot so ineptly that they approach a hand-held Saving Private Ryan look (which makes sense in a WWII drama, but not here). The actors are pretty much performing in front of a static camera most of the time.
So, why did I enjoy this movie, you ask? Well, maybe you don't, but I'll tell you anyway. It is the actors. There are some very good performances here, and they never seem to realize what a cornball movie they are in. Bryan Burke and Michelle Trachtenberg (the latter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame - I love that show) give affecting, natural performances. They aren't great by any means, but they are real. So, why did I enjoy this movie, you ask? Well, maybe you don't, but I'll tell you anyway. They don't seem forced and pushy like so many child actors. Ralph Macchio takes a part that should be an embarrassment to any self-respecting actor and runs with it, giving Hubbie a goofy charm. Diane Ladd is actually very good as the aging Nona Gina (she made me miss MY grandma!) There is also an amusing cameo by director Garry Marshall as a pawnshop owner that made me chuckle - it reminded me of his ramblings on the commentary tracks for Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride. All of the actors give such warm performances that they actually made me care about what was happening in the script, as familiar as it was.
Sure, good actors don't excuse a poor script. But they make it a lot easier to forgive. The warmth of the talent involved in the film really gives me the feeling that they thought it was worth doing and that it had a good message. I admit it, this movie is manipulative and derivative, but I like it anyway. It is perfect for families. A guy can't be cynical all the time, can he?
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: The image on this disc is fair. It is a bit soft in bright scenes, and generally gives the impression of something shot on 16mm (or video even). Of course, I looked all over the internet and I can't find any information about what type of source this film was likely to have been transferred from. Anyway, in addition to the softness, colors appear washed out and there is very little fine detail. There is a lot of grain is some dark scenes, and the blacks are muddy. It basically looks like a cheaply produced TV show from the 1980s. Still, it is watchable and not really distracting.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The audio here is like the video, adequate for the presentation, but not impressive in any sense of the word. Dialogue is clear, but sounds a bit hollow, as if the characters aren't really speaking, but lip synching to a voice-over. It just doesn't sound natural. The music is pretty much mixed equally, with no separation between the right and left mains. There is no surround action, but really no need for it either.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: All that is included in the way of extras are Spanish subtitles and a poor quality trailer that I assume was for the film's video release, as it is labeled "video trailer." However, since I can find no evidence of a theatrical release, it doesn't really matter anyway.
One thing that bugged me... the movie is chaptered, but the chapters aren't coded during the movie. There is also no timer. Weird.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsOk, so the film won't win any awards for originality. And yes, if they punched up the "ethnic" Italian elements any more it would be an Olive Garden commercial. But it does have a sweet story and some decent performances. And it is kind of nice to watch a movie with no swearing or violence (something that would make our presidential candidates proud!) It would make a nice choice for family movie night.
Joel Cunningham 2000-10-06