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Grand Canyon

review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 137 minutes

Starring Danny Glover, Kevin Kline, Steve Martin, Mary McDonnell, Mary-Louise Parker, Alfre Woodard

Written by Lawrence Kasdan and Meg Kasdan

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Featurette

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Surround 4.0, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Chapter Search (32 Chapters)

After attending a basketball game with his best friend Davis (a fabulous Steve Martin), lawyer Mack (an excellent Kevin Kline) is on his way home when he gets lost in a bad Los Angeles neighborhood. To make things worse, his car breaks down. Surrounded by some gang members and fearing for his life, the tow truck he called earlier arrives just in time, and the driver, Simon (a powerful Danny Glover) ends up saving his life. That moment changes their lives forever, as it brings two people from different worlds together. A number of other plots involved, such as Mack's wife finding a lost baby, Mack himself wondering about his life, Davis coming to grips with his life and changing his ways after he is shot and Simon's sister trying to cope with the harsh life she lives in. Somehow, all the characters and stories intertwine, making one unforgettable and deep movie.

It's really hard to put a movie like this in words, but I'm going to do my best. I know a lot of people didn't like this movie, while a lot of other people loved it. I'm with the latter. People felt this movie was stereotypical, sappy, manipulative, schmaltzy, had clichéd characters and was pretty stupid at what it tried to attempt and show. I, personally, disagree. Yes, I will admit the characters are nothing new and we've seen a lot of them over and over before, but I still found them very interesting with some good depth. As far as what this movie conveys, I think it does a fantastic job and you really get something out of it, something to carry. It seems so simple, but there's just a lot to it.

This movie is nearly ten years old, and while it may seem a tad bit out of date (many can say that situations in urban areas have gotten better or gotten worse), I think it holds up really well. It's really about people from different worlds who are trying to cope with their lives. Everyone has some kind of internal conflict they have to face and realize, and with it, lives intertwine. No matter how rich one may be and how poor another seems, they are closer together than one may originally think. Mack and Simon form a bond and seem to have a lot in common. But I really like what this movie conveys. About life and people in general. Who we are and what we are.

Many argue that Kasdan is one of those filmmakers who are stronger writers than directors, but I disagree. Kasdan co-wrote "Grand Canyon" with his wife Meg, and he directed it. While Kasdan and his wife got a lot of nominations for the brilliant screenplay, the movie itself was overlooked and snubbed. I felt the movie deserved a lot of higher honors. Back to Kasdan as a director now, he is a very good visionary. He has excellent techniques and shots in the film, and some wonderful transitions and symbolisms. His all star cast is terrific, some of the finest I've seen. Everyone gives a deep, heartfelt performance. The characters seem really, really real and have a fine edge to them, plus some nice development, despite the clichés. The performances in this movie really deserved some more recognition.

It's a shame in this world we can't all get along. Some of us hate other people's views. Some of us hate colors of skin. Some of us hate beliefs and religons. However, if you put us together, we have a lot in common. People have a lot of the same interest, and no one will be able to understand why other people hate over stupid, silly things. It's really sad how people can't overlook the little things, things that don't matter at all. People stereotype one another. But with this movie, things are looked passed that. People get along. People bond. Yet with it, there is a harsh reality to life. There's some uneasiness during Mack and Simon during chapter 19 (by the car), but they find a way to look past it all. Again, tere's a lot of harsh reality to life. About hate, about families, about dreams, about classes, about people.

But there's more to "Grand Canyon" then about people from different sides coming together to face life. It's also about choices, and how one moment can affect our lives forever. Mack faces a few of those as we see, and his thoughts are insightful and really well played out. This movie not only makes a good point about racial barriers, people overcoming them and people stereotyping, but about different classes coming together as well, and no matter how bad off or how good life can seem, we all have insecurities and challanges. What people have to face, what can be improved, what people want and a sense of stablitiy and happiness.

Still, "Grand Canyon" is not without its flaws. I felt there could have been even more to Mack and Simon's relationship, as well as Simon's relationships to Jane and his deaf daughter. I also felt that there could have been more of Davis, and some more depth to Simon's nephew.

I really love "Grand Canyon". The screenplay is terrific, with some fantastic lines, monologues and moments. It's just really well developed and written, there's so much to it and so much meaning as well as many symbolisms. The acting is phenomenal with great chemistry and the film is well shot and really well made. James Newton Howard's score is also excellent, really representing the movie scene by scene. But what I like most is the message, what goes on. There's smooth transitions and the movie has a great, even pace for 137 minutes. This movie has such a sense of honesty and truth. "Grand Canyon" is a lot about the human spirit, and while broken down it may seem like nothing new, there's a lot to absorb and think about. I highly urge everyone to see this movie.

"Grand Canyon" is not perfect, but it's a very sharp and another excellent Fox transfer. The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I admit images do appear soft at time, and there's an abundance of grain and dirt which can be distracting, but this is an excellent transfer. Colors are vibrant and bold, and there's very good detail and black level. There's some slight shimmering here and there, but it's hardly noticeable and not that distracting. This is top-notch.

Presented in 4.0 Dolby Surround, I was really surprised how good this track was. It's very discreete and features a wonderful amount of surrounds. From gunshots, to the loud cheers and music at the basketball game and the earthquake scene, the 4.0 track may not be 5.1, but still brings the movie to life a great deal. I really felt like I was experiencing it, it's just a wonderful track. Even the smallest sound like footsteps sounds great. This is a very impressive track.

Sadly, there's not much for "Grand Canyon". The Theatrical Trailer is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound, and there's a short Featurette that doesn't offer too much on the movie itself. It has clips and interviews, but it's pretty fluffy. Also included are trailers for Smilla's Sense Of Snow, Inventing The Abbots, Paradise Road, The Ice Storm and Titus, all in anamorphic widescreen.

While one could wish for more supplements, like a commentary from the Kasdans or a cast commentary, but then again, this movie speaks for itself. Good transfer and great sound make this a decent overall package for a wonderful film. Recommended.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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