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Notting Hill

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG-13

Running Time: 2 Hours, 4 Minutes

Studio: Universal

Starring Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Emma Chambers, James Dreyfus, Rhys Ifans, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee

Written by Richard Curtis

Directed by Roger Michell

 

Retail Price: 24.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Feature commentary with director Roger Michell, writer Richard Curtis and producer Duncan Kenworthy, Hugh Grant's Movie Tips, Deleted Scenes, Music Highlights, The Travel Book, Trailers for "The Bone Collector" and "The Story Of Us", Cast and Filmmakers' Bios, Recommendations, DVD ROM: Behind the Scenes

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital (English), Dolby Surround (French), English and Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search

 

 

In 1994, a little Brit film by the name of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" got a lot of attention. It established Hugh Grant as a household name, and introduced us to the team who made it: Richard Curtis, Roger Michell and Duncan Kenworthy. While their names didn't become so household as Grant, people knew it would not be the last we heard from there.

In May 1999, the team launched "Notting Hill", a highly succesful and wonderful romantic comedy. The film made over 100 million dollars domestically, and went on to succeed overseas as well. I enjoyed the movie, and I also really enjoyed the premise.

William Thacker (Grant, who's perfect) is a divorced "chap" who owns "The Travel Book Co." in Notting Hill, right in London. It's a small shop though, which only sells books on travel and exotic locations. However, the shop is doing poorly and William is getting more and more stressed out, especially with his roommate (the hilarious Rhys Ifans). Yet one day, Hollywood's biggest star, Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) enters his shop. She buys a book, no big deal. Or is it? This chance enounter really changes William's life forever. They soon meet again thanks to a little accident, and William realizes he's in a lot more than he bargained for, especially when he comes to terms he is in love.

"Notting Hill" is a very enjoyable romantic comedy, a perfect date movie too. Though I thought some of the story was uneven, and some really did seem to drag on and was not nesscary at all, this film features some excellent direction by Michell, a solid script by Curtis and wonderful scenary and performances by a nice ensemble cast, though Grant, Roberts and Ifans steal the show. The chemistry between Grant and Roberts is there, and is very good. It really adds more to the film and makes it easier to swallow. Despite some minor flaws, "Notting Hill" is a wonderful movie, and can be watched over and over again. Luckily, Universal hasn't failed us this time by giving us a nice DVD.

 

"Notting Hill" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the transfer is pretty good. I really wanted to give this transfer higher, but it really is not perfect. Detail is incredible, and a lot of the film has a crisp look too it. However, there are quite a few specks and artifacts throughout the film, as well as unsaturated colors and soft images. Colors did smear occasionally, but only a little when they did. There is some slight shimmer too. All in all, the transfer is decent, but with a little extra care, it could have been reference quality.

 

"Notting Hill" is really not a film meant for 5.1, but it is included on the disc as your only option for English. I felt a surround or stereo would have been enough, but, 5.1 it is. The movie is really mono, just divided up between channels. The .1 LFE is very minimal, and the rear channels are only really used when music plays. 5.1 is there, but really is not needed, and I guess a mix for it would be hard to create due to the lack of surrounds. A French surround is included too, and there are English and Spanish subtitles.

 

Universal has given "Notting Hill" the prime "Collector's Edition" treatment. I feel this edition features a bit more than most "Collector's Edition"s do (most include a little extra supplements with a commentary. Heck, some standards have more than Collector's).

First off is a commentary with producer Duncan Kenworthy, writer Richard Curtis and director Roger Michell. The two are pretty confident, and sit back discussing the movie. It is not the best commentary I've heard, but it is informative and not so painful to go through. Nothing too spectacular, but overall, nice.

Next is "Hugh Grant's Movie Tips", which features Hugh Grant in a different kind of interview, showing us the set and making of the film, while providing some unusual insights (plus we get to see Hugh's parents!). Very interesting and entertaining.

There are then some Deleted Scenes. They are editied, and slightly rough (complete with markers on the top and bottom). Most notably though is that there is a scene with William's parents in the trailer which did not make the final cut, but is in this collection. The scene is presented in a rough cut, while in the trailer, it did look complete.

"Music Highlights" features all the songs in the movie and where they are featured, and you can jump right to them. Not really important or anything (unless you really loved the music), but it is there if you need it.

The next feature I found to be a great one, especially for all you tourists. "The Travel Book" provides a great amount of information about the real Notting Hill, as well as when to go and some maps. An interesting and clever supplement.

The "Universal Showcase" has two trailers, both in 5.1. One is for "The Bone Collector" and the other for "The Story Of Us". They both sound great!

The original theatrical trailer for "Notting Hill" is also included. I found it pretty interesting about the parents scene (see "Deleted Scenes"), and the fact that some of the shots in the trailer are different than the ones in the actual movie.

Rounding out the features are some excellent extensive Production Notes as well as detailed Cast and Filmakers' Bios. For you DVD-ROM users, there is a Behind the Scenes section about the making of the film as well as the soundtrack.

 

"Notting Hill" perfectly blends romance and comedy into a nice package, and this DVD should not disappoint either. While the video is flawed and the sound is decent, the features are pretty plentiful. Reccomended for sure.

 

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(2.5/5)

(3/5)

(3/5, NOT an average)

 

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