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Beauty & The Briefcase (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 07 February 2011
ImageCall me sentimental, or something to that effect, but I usually like ABC Family Original movies.  “Beauty & The Briefcase” is not exception.  Sure, it has numerous faults, but for a made-for-TV movie it is quite entertaining.

The film was originally aired in the beginning of 2010.  Now, one year later it is getting a Blu-ray release.  This is likely due to the fact that it was originally shot in full progressive HD and is an easy Blu-ray transfer.

“Beauty & The Briefcase” is based on the book “Diary Of A Working Girl.”  Lane Daniels (Hilary Duff) is a freelance fashion writer trying to get her big break.  After a recent successful story in Her Style magazine her successful fashion photographer friend, Joanne (Amanda Walsh) is able to get her a pitch appointment with the editor of Cosmo magazine (Jaime Pressly).

Arising from casual discussion with the editor, Lane finds herself going undercover to write a story on finding your perfect man in the business world.  Lane is desperate to meet her “magic man,” making this assignment perfect for her.

Lane gets a job with an investment company and immediately goes to work, dating guy and guy, taking meticulous notes.  Of course when all seems to be going well a wrench gets thrown in the mix.  Lane meets Liam, a man that fits all 10 of her checklist items.  Unfortunately for her though, he does not work in the business world.  So, now she must deceive her boss, continue to see Liam while writing about the guys that work in her office.

It is easy to see how this will get her into trouble.  As a made-for-TV movie the film is entirely predictable and formulaic.  Know that going in and you may find some enjoyment.
Many will like seeing Hilary Duff in a more grown up role, particularly those that grew up watching her on “Lizzie McGuire.”  Duff is looking mighty good in this film, however, there are issues with her character’s portrayal.  I find it troublesome in this day and age that a fashion woman is still portrayed as a ditzy blonde.  On top of that I find it a bit of a stretch that she can simply show up to an employment agency and get a job in the business world at a starting salary of $42,000.  But hey, this is an ABC Family movie.

As with most made-for-TV movies the film has a bit of a progression issue.  Everything unfolds and resolves itself too quickly.  It all happens in the final minutes of the film.  While it is not as bad in this film as a lot of TV movies, it still is a pacing issue.

Despite the film’s faults it is sure to find its niche among Duff fans, made-for-TV and ABC Family fans.  Personally, I hope that Disney/ABC releases some of its past ABC Family movies on Blu-ray.  But that likely won’t happen.

“Beauty & The Briefcase” was originally shot with the Sony F23 HD camera, which means it is prime for a Blu-ray transfer.  As far as made-for-TV budget concerns, this is a terrific looking film.  The colors are nicely saturated and delineated.  New York finally gets its richness portrayed visually in a film.  The city shots are swe-inspiring.  Details are not as fine as they are in major motion pictures.  This is likely due to the quicker lighting jobs that take place in these lower budget films.  While shooting in digital allows for more lenience in lighting than it does when shooting with film, lighting is still hugely important in capturing strong details and textures.  Fleshtones remain accurate.  There is no evidence of edge enhancement and artifacting doesn’t seem to be present.  This is an enjoyable visual experience.

The audio is typical is a made-for-TV film.  All the channels are used to a fault.  The music is strongly bled between speakers leading to spectral splitting and a lack of coherency in sound placement.  Dialogue is upfront and for the most part intelligible.  There was a fair amount of ADR in this film, which is obvious in every instance.  The lip sync is off and in many cases the lines are added despite the actor’s mouth not moving at all.  The timbre of the dialogue changes too dynamically throughout the movie.  The LFE channel is shallow in its one use.  Also, note the overall volume level of this film is mixed to TV standards meaning that it will present itself louder on your home theater system than motion picture mixes.  This is a decent but far from impressive audio track.  Generally it is more the fault of the original sound production and design than it is of the lossless mix.

There are no bonus materials on this Blu-ray disc other than a trailer.

“Beauty & The Briefcase,” which is a terrible title for the film, is sure to entertain certain crowds.  If you are prone to ABC Family Originals then this film is right up your alley.  The video transfer is quite pleasing, but the audio mix leaves a bit to be desired.  This is worth it for those interested in this niche.

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