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Running Time: 93 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: Karol Ann Hoeffner
Directed by: Craig Shapiro
Studio: Warner Bros.
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Behind The Scenes, 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 (30 Chapters)
Released: February 12th, 2002
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.
But enough of my cruel ranting. One of the two Olsen twins films being released on DVD this February 2002 is the recent "Winning London." Basically, 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 hotties" all while wrapped in some plot that involves one dimensional teenagers and a reason to visit a particular place. So, in "Winning London," a more recent film of the twins (it's from 2001), we have sisters Riley and Chloe (WHOA! WHAT A STRETCH! PLAYED BY THE TWINS, NO LESS!) who are set to compete in London at the Model U.N. representing their California school. While there, we see famous London landmarks, they shop, hit on boys and get wrapped up in some plot only to benefit it somehow from their own ways.
This movie is everything you'd come to expect from a direct to video film. Cheesy transistions, crap music, annoying cuts and camera styles, cliched montages and annoying plots and subplots we've seen over and over again, but somehow done one hundred times worse. The directing style is meh and the acting is simply off-key and horrid (though I admit the guy who played the British teen wasn't that bad, actually and was quite natural in all of this). However, kids do enjoy that and don't even realize it. It gets them into the film and makes them feel comfortable. 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 London if you've never been there, 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 in their own ways. However, I must say, London through the eyes of two fifteen year old girls is not the best way to visit, 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 "Winning London" does work. 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.
Presented in its original aspect ratio, "Winning London" has a 1.33:1 full frame transfer (kids will love it!). They won't care how it looks, but for you enthusisasts, here's the scoop: colors are bit underwhelming, and there are some pieces of dirt on the print as well. It can be rather grainy, but I guess that's expected since this movie is low budget. There is some shimmering and noise too, but it really lacks a lot of visual flair to make it stand out. It's rather average. There are some portions of the movie that are video based since a kid carries a video camera and we see what he's shooting, and those video scenes are high in contrast and overblown. Those look pretty bad.
English and French stereo tracks are included here. They fit the material. They're actually pretty decent stereo tracks. They're rather straightforward and feature strong dynamics. The dialogue is clear and easy to hear, while some sound effects and music have good fidelity and bring some good activity. Overall, nothing amazing, but I was surprised as it was better than I expected. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French are included, while you also have the choice of English closed captioning through your television.
As one may expect, the supplements here are just big commercials. Behind The Scenes has a cheery British narrator, clips from the movie, behind the scenes footage and interviews with the twins, director Craig Shapiro (I have no idea what he's on, but this G rated movie is still light fluff every way you look at it) and more. But hey, while in it, just advertise the fashion line and other Olsen twins products. Hey, just plug everything they have.
Fashion Close-Up has clips from the movie and is fashion comparisons, and how they represent the characters. Please. This movie is not art and it tries to make it insightful in a somewhat laughable way.
The rest is nothing major... Cast & Crew Information, Video Highlights and a Video/DVD Collection Trailer round out the supplements.
Unless you're the Olsen twins core audience, you're sure to enjoy "Winning London." This is not my type of film, but if you like the Olsen twins' work, you'll be sure to enjoy "Winning London" even if it's the same as everything else they've done. The DVD is decent. So if you're a fan and need to own it, pick it up. The price isn't bad, either.