A Pair of Warner Archives #1: The Accidental Tourist

The Accidental Tourist tells the story of a man (William Hurt) who writes books for travelers who hate to travel.  His son is killed, he breaks his leg falling down the basement stairs and his wife (Kathleen Turner) leaves him because he's not able to give her the kind of support she needs.  If that sounds super depressing, it is, but things quickly turn around when Hurt finds a pet sitter for his super cute corgi, Geena Davis (who won her Academy Award here), who turns out to be a bit of a low-key manic pixie love interest.  And it's the expert push and pull between these rather extreme Hollywood cutesy comic and darkly realist halves that turn TAT into a enveloping, endlessly rewatchable yin and yang.  Credit for this has to be equally shared by the original novelist Anne Tyler, and the delicate adaptation by director/ screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.  And that's only elevated tourist by the fantastic cast, which also includes Bill Pullman, Ed Begley Jr. and M.A.S.H.'s David Ogden Stiers, as well as one of John Williams' (Star Wars, Superman) most touching scores.
Warner Bros released TAC as a pretty nice, widescreen special edition DVD in 2004.  It came in an annoying snap case, but apart from that, it was perfectly fine to carry us through the whole SD era.  They released virtually the same disc in all the other regions, too.  When it went out of print, Warner Archives reissued it as a DVD-R in 2014.  But eff that noise.  By then, the world needed a proper blu-ray release with an updated HD transfer; and in 2017 they came through.
2004 WB DVD top; 2017 WA BD bottom.
So the first thing you're probably noticing is the color correction, which thankfully dabs away the red hue that goopily bled into the old DVD.  The blu's colors are warmer, much more attractive and authentic.  The next fix Warner Archives gave us is the aspect ratio, from 2.33:1 to 2.40:1.  Now, if you're looking at the edges of the screenshots above, you're probably thinking to yourself that the framing actually looks to be almost exactly the same.  That's because the DVD was horizontally squished, making everyone a little taller and skinnier, which the BD corrects.  Beyond that, there's the naturally crisper nature of the HD image, which sharpens the photography and clears away all the compression noise.  Grain is subtle and natural where it was just blotchy before.  It may not be the complete overhaul we've seen on some past releases - like, for example, this one - where the previous DVDs were deeply troubled, but it's a very pleasing all-around upgrade.

The original DVD featured the original stereo mix, as well as a French dub, with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.  The blu does away with the foreign language choices, but boosts the audio to DTS-HD and keeps the English subs.
Warner Archives don't specialize in coming up with lots of special features, but in this case that's okay, because WB already did that job in 2004.  We start out with a pleasant introduction to the film by Kasdan, which leads into a brief but rewarding 'making of' doc that mixes new interviews with vintage EPK clips.  And there's a surprisingly whopping amount of deleted scenes that run well over half an hour.  And most impressive of all is a partial audio commentary by Geena Davis.  A major film star is a rare get for a commentary track, and she's quite enthusiastic.  She only covers about 30-40 minutes of the film, but that's not a criticism at all.  After suffering through enough commentaries full of long pauses and sweaty moderators asking actors about their entire life story in a desperate bid to fill the entire movie's running time, I much prefer one that lets her say everything she has to say, and then send us all home without feeling like we've lost an hour of our lives in the Bermuda Triangle.  Anyway, the trailer's the only other extra, but it's already more than enough.  This is a very rewarding package, and a fuller one than we tend to find in the Archives.
The Accidental Tourist is a staple title none of our collections should be without.  And Warner Archives have given this particularly deserving catalog title the kind of quality edition we're glad to have on our shelves.  I wish I could say this about many of my other favorites, but at least I can about this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment