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Splash on DVD

Splash on DVD

What a great trip down movie memory lane!

Splash was the movie that really put Ron Howard on the map as a director, and also Touchstone Films as a studio - or at least as a more adult arm of Disney.

And we don't remember laughing out loud when first viewing the movie back on its VHS release - yet revisiting it now I could count probably a half dozen times when the guffaws just had to come.

Splash is a gentle fairy tale, kind of "the Little Mermaid" for the TV generation. It stars a very young and up-and-coming Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer, a driven small business owner who can't fall in love - and who has to ride herd on his horny and superficial older brother (John Candy).

Daryl Hannah is wonderful as the mermaid "Madison;" she's sweet and sexy and you can understand completely why Allen falls for her. This is no pleasure unit Pris from Blade Runner, but rather is an alien creature whose love for a human leads her to leave her own world and embrace his.

When Allen's perfect woman shows up, he drops everything and plunges into a romance that leaves his brother holding the business bag and wondering what the heck is going on. Naturally, no one is aware of Madison's deep-sea secret, except for a flaky scientist (Eugene Levy) who saw her in her "au natural" habitat and is determined to prove she's a mermaid so people will no longer think he's nuts.

Madison has to stay dry or she'll revert to her fish form, and this proves to be Levy's ace in the hole - and when she gets soaked and her tail reappears she's captured by the government for scientific study.

Will true love lose out to the bureaucrats? Will Madison stay on dry land to be with her true love? Or do the movie makers have something else up their fins?

Hanks is charming and Hannah is perfect. Candy and Levy (and a great cast of lesser characters) all contribute to a highly entertainment film that belongs in the library of Howard, Hanks, Hannah - and fantasy film fans.

There's a little profanity that's quite mild by today's standards and a slight bit of nudity (fortunately, it's Hannah!), but nothing the kids haven't seen worse of by now.

The DVD is very good. The picture is offered in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and it has a very filmlike look with rich colors and very little grain. It's a pleasure to watch.

Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and it's a weaker link. There's nothing really wrong with it; it just comes from an era when the audio experience wasn't usually given the priority of the visuals. That understood, the audio here is fine. There isn't a lot of surround, but the overall sound quality is good.

Extras include an audio commentary featuring director Howard, producer Brian Grazer and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. There's also a "making of" feature that includes reminiscences on the film by the abovementioned people as well as stars Hannah, Hanks, Candy, and Levy.

In all, a nice package.

Splash, the 20th Anniversary Edition, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
110 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
Starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel and Bruce Jay Friedman, directed by Ron Howard.


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