Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Rear Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
I vaguely remember going to a production of the 1941 play of the same name back in college with my now wife, but I have almost NO recollection of it. My main remembrance of the story came from the Rex Harrison / Constance Cummings film in 1945, which is a bonafide classic film (and also one of my favorite Criterion Collection discs). But color me a little curious when I see this new remake come up on my radar a year or so ago. The film was SUPPOSED to be released around summer of 2020, then got pushed back to Sept of 2020, and then finally into early 2021. Then it was attempted to be sold to the various streaming sites, but no one would actually take it. Finally IFC productions picked it up (which is weird, as they’re mostly a horror and sci-fi sub label) and Shout Factory released the physical disc this last month. A bit of a twisted road to get out to you and me, but finally here.
The story is vaguely the same as the original, but with some major plot twists and changes. It revolves around a struggling writer named Charles Condomine (Dan Stevens) who is suffering from a MASSIVE case of writers block. He’s neck deep in a movie script that he’s 6 months behind on, and it’s not getting any better. It doesn’t make it any better that the script is for his wife Ruth’s (Isla Fisher) father in Hollywood and that her henpecking ways aren’t exactly help. However things change when he invites a medium (Dame Judi Dench) to hold a Seance (so that he can steal some ideas for his play) and inadvertently summons the spirit of his dead wife Elvira (Leslie Mann).
Elvira is a sassy hunk of female empowerment, and while she doesn’t want to let Charles go, she also makes it VERY clear that she’s wants Ruth out of the picture. Charles isn’t exactly sure what to do as he loves his new wife Ruth, but Elvira was the love of his life years ago. What unfolds is a case of torn love, humorous infighting between said spirit and the couple, as well as an insidious truth about who really was the ACTUAL writer in Charles life (and the reason he hasn’t come up with anything since his wife Elivra’s death 7 years ago).
I’ve always felt that Dan Stevens was highly under rated as an actor, and was sad when he dropped out of the A-listers. He showed a lot of promise with films like The Guest, Fifth Estate and Colossal, but he quickly fell off the radar and has been working with low key indie films for the most part. He’s hilarious as Charles, playing the slapstick elements of Rex Harrison’s performance to a T, just with a more simpy and wimpy approach (which fits his character to a T). Sadly the script and the direction undermine both his and Judi Dench’s efforts, and leaves this film as a rather “meh” experience.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive references and some drug material
• Theatrical Trailer
The movie isn’t AWFUl, but it’s in NO way up to the same standards as the play or the 1945 Rex Harrison film (or the 1956 TV movie with Lauren Bacall either). I got a few chuckles out of the film, and actually was enjoying it for the first half of the movie. By the time the 3rd act rushed itself into existence I was having my doubts, and by the end was rather frustrated with how things unfolded. The Blu-ray itself is well done though, so if you’re a fan then you should be happy. However, I’d leave this as a rental for anyone else on the fence.
Starring: Dan Stevens, Leslie Mann, Isla Fisher, Judi Dench
Directed by: Edward Hall
Written by: Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard, Piers Ashworth
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, English DVS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Studio: Shout Factory
Runtime: 99 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 28th, 2021