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The Out-Of-Towners

The Out-Of-Towners
A Paramount Home Video Release
1999, 90 Minutes, Color, Rated PG-13 (PG in Canada)

Starring:  Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, Mark McKinney, John Cleese, Oliver Hudson
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 09/21/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Single Layered (DVD-5)
Aspect Ratio:  1.78:1 Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Theatrical Trailer, Interactive Menus, Scene Selection

The Out-Of-Towners is a movie that tries to answer the question "how much can go wrong in 24 hours without even trying". Starring Steve Martin as Henry Clark and Goldie Hawn as his wife Nancy, this film sets off with Henry leaving Ohio for a job interview in New York city. At the last minute his wife suddenly appears on the plane, very much to Henry’s surprise. The problem is Henry has actually lost his job and so very much needs to get to that interview on time. But he also doesn’t want his wife to know how much trouble they’re really in.

The trouble is just beginning! New York city is fogged in, so their plane is rerouted to Boston. While in Boston their luggage is lost and they miss their connecting train to New York. After renting a car they get lost and on arriving are promptly mugged and later kidnapped. Of course the hotel manager, played memorably by John Cleese, refuses them entrance after discovering that their one remaining credit card is overdrawn. And this is just the beginning! It’s quite tempting to compare this film to the similarly plotted Planes, Trains and Automobiles – doubly so as they both star Steve Martin. While The Out-Of-Towners works by itself, it doesn’t feel as well executed as Planes.

The best news about this film’s video transfer is that Paramount continues to enhance their discs for 16x9 televisions. Quality seems good in regards to color accuracy, brightness and black levels, however the clarity and crispness that make a DVD pop off the screen just isn’t there. A fair amount of grain and a noticeable level of dirt and lint give the film the appearance of an average laserdisc. The unmentioned widescreen ratio is in reality full 16x9 (1.78:1). The 90-minute film is presented on a single-layer disc with 19 chapter stops and English subtitles.

The audio department fares much better with a full 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack. Though rear activity is limited, enough cues are used for ambiance and music that their presence is made known. Dialogue in a few scenes appears too soft. The whole soundtrack is captured on the disc at a fairly low level, so you may need to increase your amplifier’s volume level more than usual. This in turn can amplify what would normally be unnoticeable background hiss during dialogue. Also included are English and French 2.0 Dolby Surround audio tracks.

Bonus features are limited to a full-screen 2.0 audio theatrical trailer (which does a remarkable job of summing the entire film up in two-and-a-half minutes) and static scene selection screens. Though the film is interesting first time around, the unmemorable video transfer and lack of extra materials make The Out-Of-Towners a hard sell at $30 USD.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on October 4, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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