The Fantasticks 1995-2000
Blu-ray Company: Twilight Time
Starring: Joey Mcintyre Joel Grey, Brad Sullivan, Barnard Hughes, Jonathon Morris, Jean Louisa Kelly, Teller,
Plot: Product Description: A charm-drenched period-piece musical, it tells the story of a pair of potential young lovers whose romance is assisted/derailed by the machinations of their fathers.
My Review and Thoughts:
This is a movie I am seeing for the first time, cut and uncut. To be honest I had not even heard of this film until now. This is directed by Michael Ritchie probably best known for, The Bad News Bears and also his many wonderful comical adventures into 80’s cinema, such as The Golden Child, Fletch and Wild Cats and in the 90’s Diggstown, Cops and Robbersons, among others. Sadly he passed away at the very young age of 62, but left many examples of fun cinema. Richie had a love affair with sports and that can be seen throughout his movie making career, from Bad News Bears, to Semi-Tough and 1994’s The Scout, among others. His sport films mainly had a comical reality to them. I suppose that is what makes Mr. Fantasticks, so different from Richie’s other works. Mr. Fantasticks is a musical comedy that tends to linger with you, and also grow on you, as you watch. I didn’t know what to think at first, seeing that a New Kids on the Block, starred in this feature, none other than, Joey McIntyre. Joey actually does a fantastic job at creating the part of Matt Hucklebee.
Also starring one of my favorite performers, Joel Grey as the character of Amos Babcock Bellamy. Grey is a magical performer. A pioneer of brilliance in the art-form of acting. He is probably best known for his part of Master of Ceremonies in 1972’s classic, Cabaret. Also starring Bernard Hughes. Another character actor that always knew how to breathe life into his parts, both small and big. No-matter the size of the part, he gave his all and made you remember his performances. Started in movies and TV in 1952 and worked all the way up to the year 2000. He plays the part of Henry Albertson in The Fantasticks and as always, he gave his all to the part. One reason why I always remember him is because of playing the part of Buzz Richman in the 90’s TV series I grew up with, Blossom. It would be all his constant characters throughout TV and feature film that made you remember him. Sadly like all the greats, both small and big, he has passed away, but left an amazing career of performances that shine and stand out, no matter the size or the part.
Also starring the amazing and beautiful, Jean Louisa Kelly in the part of Luisa Bellamy. She first started her acting in 1989’s Uncle Buck alongside the great comical legend John Candy, but, I would not really take notice of her, until her part in the long running sitcom comedy, Yes, Dear, playing the main part of Kim Warner. I feel she is a fantastic actress that deserves accolades. She aced the part in The Fantasticks.
Director Michael Ritchie was in all regards a fantastic director. He knew what he wanted and accomplished what he wanted in his films. He left many wonderful examples of his talent, both hits and misses in the quality department, but always a visionary with the camera. I don’t think The Fantasticks is a fantastic film, but still is a film worthy to watch. On a side note and a little trivia for movie buffs, some of Ritchie’s kids, like there father, has taken the movie business as their own. Son, Steven Ritchie is a producer of films and video games and TV. Lillian Ritchie works in the Visual effects and production and animation departments on film. It seems the movie world has rubbed off on them. Their father Michael Ritchie had a gift and a talent toward cinema. I want to add, he was part of creating the story, for one of my favorite live action Disney films, 1993’s Cool Running’s. Weather it was directing such cinema gems like, 1972’s The Candidate starring Robert Redford or co-directing the 1980’s comical horror, Student Bodies. Ritchie had a passion and an eye for film.
Something that needs to be spoken about is the sets, costumes and cinematography. All are excellent. Amazing in creating relevance to the story. Loved the magical reality of the film. Amazing imagery. The film is perfect in the art-form of creating those stage sets that are very memorable. The whole movie has an art-form of creation and character through costumes, sets, and cinematography.
Also the film is very funny at times. The comedy is great and you find yourself laughing throughout the film.
Now this film hasn’t gotten much love over the years. I suppose it’s the many problems of its production and ultimate release. The film is based on the musical play by the same name. What made this musical so important and record breaking is, it was off Broadway and has ran for over 17 thousand performances, making it one of the longest, record breaking musicals. What makes this filmed version of the musical so amazing is that the actors, really sang, as the film was being made. Most musicals, the songs are dubbed in later, as editing happens. Now, another aspect of this film that has caused it to fall into obscurity, is that the film was shelved by MGM/United Artists. The movie failed during many test audiences and so, they decided to just abandon the project. It was not until the year 2000 that Francis Ford Coppola, took the movie, chopped it, and edited it, to 86 minutes.
Original run time was 109 minutes. Plus the critics have never really been nice to this movie. I for one enjoyed the movie. It’s not a great film, but it’s a film that can grow on you, and also I was thoroughly entertained by it, and that is all I really ask for in any film, both big and small. The Fantasticks is a film after viewing multiple times, one appreciates it more and more, with multiple viewings.
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 2.35:1
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA / English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
Another prime example of how to treat film. High quality sound and video perfection. I really find no flaws in these technical aspects in Twilight Time blu-rays and so it seems, I am often repeating myself every review, put it’s the truth when talking about these transfers and sound quality on these Blu-rays by Twilight Time.
You get the Isolated Score Track, which I always state, is a perfect plus to these releases. A part of this music reality, is a duo of listening gold. Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. Both are music perfection. Harvey Schmidt’s music has been used on many wonderful films, such as Six Degrees of Separation, The Man Who Feel to Earth, Bad Company and many more, including television. Surprisingly I feel Harvey has never got the acclaim he deserved. The Fantasticks is a prime example of his expertise in the art-form of music and creating that music for cinema. Next is Tom Jones –no not that Tom Jones- he is a wonderful American Lyricist, that has worked his charm in many musicals, but it would be his work in the musical play, The Fantasticks, which he and Schmidt co-wrote, that he is most vibrant for. He along with Schmidt created a true musical gem that not only transcends off the stage, but also in this unique one of a kind film.
You get a multitude of Audio Commentaries with this Blu-ray. You get one with Director Michael Ritchie. One with Actress Jean Louisa Kelly and Broadway Authority Bruce Kimmel. One with Journalist Chris Willman and Film Historian Nick Redman. All are wonderful listens. Each one gives a new prospective on the film as a completion.
Also one of my favorite realities to this blu-ray is the extra, the Original Cut of the Film. I enjoyed seeing both versions of this film. I think the un-cut version is better in the story form, but in the quality it would be the High definition Twilight Time Blu-ray version that I choose. This extra feature which is uncut, is only in the standard definition.
You also get the Original Theatrical Trailer.
And as always, the perfect insert booklet on the film, by film historian Julie Kirgo.
I suppose, I have to say that this movie is in the eyes of the beholder. Some will like and some will not. I found the film to be a fun musical. Great direction. I also loved the reality of being able to see it for the first time uncut, on this special edition blu-ray.
I think Twilight Time did a fantastic job releasing this forgotten piece of cinema and giving it a whole new wonderful outlet on a top notch Blu-ray. Plus you get to see the un-cut version of Ritchie’s ultimate vision for the film.
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