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Bon Voyage! DVD Review

Bon Voyage! (1962) movie poster Bon Voyage!

Theatrical Release: May 17, 1962 / Running Time: 132 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: James Neilson / Writers: Bill Walsh (screenplay); Marrijane Hayes, Joseph Hayes (book)

Cast: Fred MacMurray (Harry Willard), Jane Wyman (Katie Willard), Michael Callan (Nick O'Mara), Deborah Walley (Amy Willard), Tommy Kirk (Elliott Willard), Kevin Corcoran (Skipper Willard), Jessie Royce Landis (Countessa DuFresne), Georgette Anys (Madame Clebert)

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Fred MacMurray is Harry Willard, a plumbing contractor the head of a family of five, in Bon Voyage!.
The Willards are leaving behind their little Terre Haute, Indiana for their dream destination of France. Their vacation turns into a series of misadventures.

Dad wants to spend time with his family, but they all wish to run off in their own directions. The two oldest children, son Elliott and daughter Amy, have various romantic adventures. Both Mr. and Mrs. Willard have to brush off interested suitors.

The characters aren't particularly likable. Tommy Kirk's oldest son mopes around and then worries his parents by getting intimate with a West Indian girl. Of course, Kevin Corcoran would be playing his younger brother, and he's still being the 'silly little kid', a role he had outgrown two years earlier in Swiss Family Robinson. The daughter, played by Deobrah Walley, repeatedly flip-flops on liking a suave, 'thinker' of a Yale grad who she feels sorry for. A good deal of the long running time is devoted to this plot, in which nothing really happens beyond running around in circles.

A mustachioed Tommy Kirk with Fred Macmurray Fred MacMurray got a boo-boo on his finger

Most of the humor seems forced, obvious, or at least a lot less funny than the film seems to think it would be. Think of the weak National Lampoon's European Vacation with even more ineffective comedy in place of the risque humor. The dirtiest Bon Voyage! gets is a parental discussion over what "things" they've each told the kids.

Fred MacMurray is occassionally humorous here, but even this great comedic actor is limited by a limp screenplay. The already-thin comedy is drawn out for over two hours, and every gag is so predictable and not particularly funny. Yet, the film extends these gags to play them for all they are worth, which isn't much.

Buy Bon Voyage! from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish; Closed Captioned
Release Date: February 3, 2004
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase
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VIDEO and AUDIO

Bon Voyage! is presented in 1.33:1, in what appears to be an open-matte transfer. The print is generally sharp and clean, but there are moments (especially with optical shots), where the picture is plagued by flaws. The film was probably matted and presented in a slightly wider ratio for theatrical display. Although there doesn't seem to be any troubling issues with framing, the lack of original aspect ratio is annoying, all the same.

All in all, though probably not treated to extensive remastering, the film wasn't in drastic need of it and it looks quite well.

Presented in a Mono track, Bon Voyage! features a pretty flat, but adequate audio track. Dialogue is all discernible.

The Bon Voyage! DVD's Main Menu

EXTRAS

At the start of the DVD, there is a 90-second trailer for classic live action films on Disney DVD and video, highlighting Apple Dumpling Gang, Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, The Love Bug, The Parent Trap, Escape to Witch Mountain, Return from Witch Mountain, and The Absent Minded Professor. There are no other extras.

The menus are static 16x9 screens accompanied by portions of the film's score.

The theater crowd watching "Bon Voyage!"

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Bon Voyage! is a formulaic and overlong comedy that is heavy on gags and light on laughs. Disney's DVD presentation is sufficient. Some extras, particularly with the living cast members, would have been a nice addition, but at least the video and audio quality is on par. Fans of '60s live action Disney films will be satisfied to have this one finally come to DVD. Others may just want to rent or pass, as it's not a particularly memorable or funny film, and the DVD isn't exactly standout.

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Related Reviews:
Starring Fred MacMurray, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran: The Shaggy Dog (1959)
Fred MacMurray & Tommy Kirk: The Absent-Minded Professor Son of Flubber
Starring Fred MacMurray: Follow Me, Boys! The Apartment The Happiest Millionaire
Tommy Kirk & Kevin Corcoran: Old Yeller & Savage Sam Swiss Family Robinson
Jane Wyman: Pollyanna | Deborah Walley: Summer Magic | Kevin Corcoran: Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus
Tommy Kirk: Babes in Toyland The Misadventures of Merlin Jones Walt Disney Treasures: The Hardy Boys
Directed by James Neilson: The Moon-Spinners The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin

Other '60s Disney Films: The Parent Trap The Love Bug Monkeys, Go Home! Those Calloways

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Reviewed February 26, 2004.