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Home Fries  Print E-mail
DVD Romantic Comedy
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Tuesday, 01 June 2004


title:
Home Fries


studio:
Warner Home Video
MPAA rating: PG-13
starring: Drew Barrymore, Catherine O’Hara, Luke Wilson, Jake Busey
release year: 1998
film rating: Three Stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

If you are tired of predictable, formulaic romantic comedies but are still in the mood for some variation of the boy-meets-girl theme with whimsical thriller underpinnings, give ‘Home Fries’ a try. Vince Gilligan’s droll script is so idiosyncratic and loopy as to border on the unclassifiable.

One of the good things about ‘Home Fries’ overall is that it’s tough to describe without blowing some of the plot surprises right off the bat. Suffice to say that Sally Jackson (Drew Barrymore), a resident of a small Texas town, is all set for life as a young, unwed mother. Sally simply cannot trust the daddy of her soon-to-be-born baby to be a responsible parent, even before the father-to-be -- an older, married man -- dies of a heart attack. What nobody (except those responsible and the audience) knows is that the fatal seizure was triggered by pursuit from a gunboat helicopter. Then Dorian (Luke Wilson) comes into Sally’s life. A genuinely sweet guy, Dorian would like to keep Sally out of the craziness of his family, but that may not be possible …


One of the good things about ‘Home Fries’ overall is that it’s tough to describe without blowing some of the plot surprises right off the bat. Suffice to say that Sally Jackson (Drew Barrymore), a resident of a small Texas town, is all set for life as a young, unwed mother. Sally simply cannot trust the daddy of her soon-to-be-born baby to be a responsible parent, even before the father-to-be -- an older, married man -- dies of a heart attack. What nobody (except those responsible and the audience) knows is that the fatal seizure was triggered by pursuit from a gunboat helicopter. Then Dorian (Luke Wilson) comes into Sally’s life. A genuinely sweet guy, Dorian would like to keep Sally out of the craziness of his family, but that may not be possible …

Director Dean Parisot maintains a tone of sunny, affectionate eccentricity. He and writer Gilligan genuinely like their offbeat characters, who are unusual without being grotesque. Gilligan’s narrative eventually connects a lot of disparate, odd events in amusingly coherent fashion; no plot threads (least of all the ones involving the helicopter) are left dangling.

Barrymore manages to balance an air of practicality with a hint of flighty whimsy, not an easy combination to pull off (though she’s not always successful with Sally’s Texas accent). Wilson is the epitome of a kind young Texas gentleman, albeit a troubled one. As Dorian’s wilder brother Angus, Jake Busey has a persuasive glint of madness in his eyes. Physically and in manner, Busey is uncannily like a 20ish incarnation of his actor father, Gary. Catherine O’Hara plays a domineering, manipulative matriarch with the sort of self-justifying fragile ferocity associated with Tennessee Williams heroines, deployed here to humorous effect.

Parisot does lovely things with color and light on the outdoors sequences, relishing dusk and dawn on the Texas landscape. His isolated burger joint (a main setting) is suitably tacky yet inviting. Soundwise, ‘Home Fries’ is laudably complicated. Chapter 2 pulls together helicopter rotors, fire from mounted guns, several sets of dialogue on crossed headset wavelengths, the musical score and even the nicety of dirt-road grit hitting a car windshield in the chopper’s wake. Another good combination of helicopter roar, ambient acoustics and musical score can be found in Chapter 22.

‘Home Fries’ suffers somewhat from not knowing how to reach its finale. While the characters’ ultimate fates feel right, the route by which the climax is reached is a mite abrupt. Otherwise, the film’s blend of love, bloodless mayhem, endless scheming, bursts of action and general lunacy give it singular allure. Certainly ‘Home Fries’ isn’t exactly like anything you’ve ever seen before.


more details
sound format:
English Dolby Surround 5.1; French Dolby Surround 5.1
aspect ratio(s):
Original Widescreen Ratio (exact ratio not given); Full-Screen ("Standard") Ratio 1:3:3
special features: Cast and Crew Biographies; Theatrical Trailer; Chapter Search; English Closed-Captioning; French Subtitles
comments: email us here...
   
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba








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