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Passport To Paris

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated: G

Running Time: 87 minutes

Starring: Mary Kate Oldsen, Ashley Olsen, some other child actors and adult actors needing work who got paid for scale to do this

Written by: Elizabeth Kruger & Craig Shapiro

Directed by: Alan Metter

 

Studio: Warner Bros.

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Fashion Close-Up, Cast & Crew Information, Trailers

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Stereo, French Stereo, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Chapter Index (28 Chapters)

Released: February 12th, 2002

 

"Nobody likes to fight in a bikini!"

 

Oh yes, the Olsen twins have finally entered the DVD market! This is just the next stop on their quest for world domination I tell you! I'm warning you now, they're out to take us all down in their whirlwind of fashion, corny movies, makeup and cheesy teen antics! When will their madness end, if ever? Think what you want, but in this world, there are two kinds of people: you either love the tween antics of the Olsens, or you despise them. But let's be honest here: these twins are lucky. I must admit I've seen quite a few episodes of "Full House" in my day, and as legend has it, the only reason they were picked for their role as Michele Tanner is because at the auditions, they were the quietest. So, when "Full House" was finally canned off the ABC network in 1995, someone thought of a brilliant idea to captialize off them even more. The Olsens had an album and television movies and the like, yet their empire expanded further with a lot of direct to video series and the like. Basically, those around them saw them as something incredibly marketable, and built around it. Quite a smart move, if you ask me. Basically, the twins have become a brand name with their own magazine, television series (the ABC one flopped a few years back, but their new one is steady of cable's ABC Family), fashion line, videogames... it's just amazing. And since people know who they are, and the things they put out appeal to quite a deal of pre-teen girls, it's a cash cow of sorts. It's not art. Pure business and some luck. As many know, they truly have a media empire, as they are worth over 500 million dollars combined. Kids and tweens buy into them for family entertainment, to be hip and I guarantee, IT'S ALL A PLOT FOR WORLD DOMINATION. I'm not saying the twins are not talented, I'm just saying their a marketing tool to make money as they take advantage of the amazing, large and mainstream audience they happen to hold. I suppose they were at the right place at the right time to create such an empire they take an active part in. It's not art, it's just pure chance and business that clicks with so many and works. I can't blame them, I mean, I wouldn't be complaining if I was as lucky as them.

So yes, despite their fashion line and all sorts of overpriced merchandise crap, the Olsen twins have created a series of successful tame direct to video flicks. They make these pretty often (I'd say one or two a year for the past few years) and they are quite successful. So since they've been on VHS, it's time to bring them to DVD to make money all over again for die hard fans or new audiences alike. While their new film "Holiday In The Sun" made its debut on VHS and DVD at the same time, like I said, it's time to bring back the old favorites on the new format. I'm sure we can expect future Olsen flicks to be released on VHS and DVD at the same time though... and still rack up money. People look for family entertainment and are hobbyists, so even if they own it on VHS, they'll still be buying the DVD.

Yet, it's time to stop all that crazy ranting. One of the two Olsen twins films being released on DVD this February 2002 is 1999's "Passport To Paris." You know it's just like all the other Olsen twins films: it's an excuse for them to go to some country, make it look cool, see the sights, film it, involve cute 12 year old boys all while wrapped in some plot that involves one dimensional pre-teenagers and a reason to visit a particular place. So, in "Passport To Paris" the Olsen twins expand their range (NOT!) once again as twin sisters Ali and Mel. This one is cliched up to the point of absurdity. The popular boys, the fake cheerleaders, visiting relatives in Paris while seeing the sights... uch. There's the clothes bit, shopping, the sights... oh wait, I said that. Basically, the girls are airheads and need to get cultured.

Like other direct to video films the Olsen twins have put out, this one doesn't have high production values going for it either. The narrative is downright tedious, while there are cheap titles, stale transistions, "cool" music, hilarious musical cues (Christopher Brady, I'm sorry, but you must find better work), terrible shots, cliched montages and like I said, cliched plots. And just like in "Winning London," the story here has been done before, but much better. The acting here is just plain bad... I was seriously laughing my head off at some of these line deliveries ("DUDE!!!!"). But as I've said before, kids do enjoy this kind of stuff and don't even realize what they're watching. The Olsen brand names gets them into the film and makes them feel comfortable, as they know what to expect and enjoy it.. It works, so I suppose that's good if you're such a fan. I must be fair, though. I can understand why kids and families like this. It's a nice escape to Paris if you've never seen the city, and actually, shows kids some of the culture and tourist spots during the film. I guess it encourages them, maybe even inspires them to visit or get to know more of the world we live in, all in their own ways. Paris through the eyes of two middle school year old girls is not the best way to experience the city, but if you're watching it, I guess you can get something out of it. Much of the stuff in here is harmless (unless you don't like kissing!), and it's decent entertainment for families to sit around and watch. It's familiar territory that's enjoyable for the right age group, and that's why "Passport To Paris" does work in its own ways. Kids do enjoy this kind of escapist entertainment by taking it for what it is. They don't analyze it like this. It's fun for them, and that's fine. I guess most kids don't know any better. Their parents probably buy films like this for them to keep them entertained and quiet. There aren't any real themes or morals to get out of what's here though. It's kiddie popcorn entertainment... something they'll just watch over and over. It just clicks for them and they get a good deal of fun out of all this for whatever reason. This movie is not great, but it won't offend and it won't really do any damage to the young ones (however, if you're an older fan, that's a different story!). And yes, if this review looks familiar, I apologize. It's just that you can say the same thing about each Olsen twins movies. Ironically, my reviews for these are just like the films themselves: recycled but in a slightly different form.

 

"Passport to Paris" is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full screen, being a direct to video title and all. For an older film, it does look better than "Passport To Paris." It's not as grainy and the colors are better saturated. It looks pretty solid. There is some shimmering, but that's about it. No real complaints. A good job here.

 

English and French stereo tracks are included on this release. Their effects try to feel a bit enhanced, but it doesn't quite work. Still, you can hear the dialogue just fine, and the other effects bring a decent ambiance to a rather average mix. English subtitles, French subtitles and Spanish subtitles plus English closed captions are here.

 

Fashion Close-Up has clips from the movie and talks about fashion during key scenes, and how the two were "unique" by having new European backpacks not available in the U.S. But I bet if you go on their website, you can buy one just like it!

The rest is nothing at all, really. Cast & Crew Information, Video Highlights and a Video/DVD Collection Trailer round out the special features.

 

Just awful. 87 minutes of my life will never be returned to me, but rather, I now have painful memories of this cliched and laughable Olsen twins outing. The disc spots a decent presentation, though and weak supplements. So if this is a guilty pleasure, or you like the twins, enjoy this "masterpiece" of clichés and the art of shopping overseas!