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Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Robin Williams (Jack Powell), Diane Lane (Karen Powell), Brian Kerwin (Brian Powell), Jennifer Lopez (Miss Marquez), Bill Cosby (Lawrence Woodruff), Fran Drescher (Dolores Durante), Adam Zolotin (Louis Durante), Todd Bosley (Edward), Seth Smith (John-John)
Theatrical Release: August 9, 1996 / Running Time: 113 Minutes / Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: August 3, 2004
Studio: Hollywood Pictures
Many people see the genius period of Francis Ford Coppola's directorial career as a brief span which ended after the '70s, when he made two <i>Godfather</i> films, <i>The Conversation</i>, and <i>Apocalypse Now</i>. These same people would argue that Coppola hasn't made a decent film in over twenty years. But I would dispute that.
Take a look at <i><b>Jack</b></i>. It's an odd and uneven mix of comedy and drama that somehow manages to be quite compelling. At first glance, it appears to be a basic "out-of-body" comedy vehicle for Robin Williams, which would be a most unusual choice for Coppola to direct. And it sort of is that, too, only the film adds depth and resonance to its story of a boy whose body ages four times as fast as ordinary people.
That is the unusual reality for Jack Powell, who is otherwise just like any hyper and mischevious young boy.
<img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack2.jpg" alt="Jack and Stimpy want to get in bed."> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack3.jpg" alt="So Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Brian Kerwin) make room.">
In the film's disjointed opening sequence, Mrs. Powell (Diane Lane), pregnant just ten weeks, gives birth to the boy and learns about her son's condition. We skip to when Jack is ten years old and looks 40 (and a lot like Robin Williams). Jack's personal tutor, Mr. Woodruff (Bill Cosby), thinks it's time that Jack try out a school.
So, the main focus of the film is Jack taking on the fifth grade. Children can be unforgiving, and it's not smooth sailing at first, as the student body views Jack as a freak. After all, he's tall, and hairy, and has a receding hairline. For a body-switch comedy, there's a surprising amount of pathos, as the film starts as an unusual character study.
Jack tries to fit in, and it's the game of basketball which gets him in with the crowd of cool kids. He particularly gets along with Louie, a slick slacker who convinces Jack to act as principal when his mom visits. After this, he's in with the gang, and that means access to the treehouse hangout.
<img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack4.jpg" alt="J-Lo introduces the new student to her class."> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack5.jpg" alt="Jack tears up the competition on the court.">
Here, the film temporarily detours to traditional comedy, as there's gross-out humor and a great deal of flatulence. The boys put together a ridiculous concoction for new members to eat, and they revel in Jack's ability to buy Penthouse without question.
While these sequences are energetic and amusing, they're more than a bit out of place alongside the drama. But soon, the drama comes to light again, as Jack tries to deal with the negative aspects of aging four times as fast. While his classmates ponder their future jobs and families, Jack's trying to grasp the fact that in just ten years, he'll have the body of an 80-year-old.
And then Jack goes to the bar and there's some sexual humor to sidetrack things, but also a genuinely funny sequence when Jack brings his 10-year-old wit into a barroom fight. The film strays back and forth from comedy to drama, not always with the most tact. Still, when it's done, if you've been taken by the story, you'll almost certainly be moved.
While <i>Jack</i> is clearly Robin Williams film, with some coexisting directorial style, the supporting performances are well cast. Bill Cosby is warm as the sympathetic tutor. Jennifer Lopez, before she was media sensation J-Lo, shows sensibility as Jack's teacher Ms. Marquez. And as Mrs. and Mr. Powell, Diane Lane and Brian Kerwin are convincing in their parental concern.
<img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack7.jpg" alt="Jack's first day at school."> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack8.jpg" alt="Jack and the Cos laugh it up in the treehouse.">
<i>Jack</i> is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen to match its original theatrical aspect ratio. It looks great, if a bit dark. The picture is sharp, the print is impeccably clean, and there's a wide range of detail. Sharpness and contrast are good, and there are no signs of problems, other than the darkness which leaves colors not feeling quite as vivid as they should be.
The 5.1 soundtrack is almost entirely relegated to the front speakers. There's a surprising amount of bass for a comedy score, and this is not the typical comedy score. Dialogue is clear and always discernible, and the track has a good range, although the volume has highs and lows that are maybe a bit too high and low.
<img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack6.jpg" alt="Jack's Main Menu">
No extras, not even a trailer. There is, however, a promo for comedy films in Buena Vista's Movie Showcase line, featuring clips from films like <i>The Waterboy</i>, <i>Corky Romano</i>, <i>10 Things I Hate About You</i>, <i>Coyote Ugly</i>, <i>Shanghai Noon</i>, and <i>Turner & Hooch</i>. Menus are 16x9 stills with selections from the score.
<img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/h-k/jack9.jpg" alt="Just an ordinary boy with more hair.">
Robin Williams fans are sure to be glad that <i>Jack</i> is finally on DVD, after all these years. The DVD offers a fine audio/video presentation of the film, though absolutely nothing in the way of extras which is disappointing. <i>Jack</i> is an unusual film, one which offers energetic, first-rate Robin Williams comedy as well as dramatic and tender character study. The two concepts don't always meld perfectly together, but the film keeps your interest at all time. A fine recommendation at bargain bin prices, the barebones <i>Jack</i> DVD carries a $19.99 SRP. So, while fans may still wish to pick it up, others may opt for a rental instead or wait for a price drop.
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008L3U1/thehomeimprovemz">Buy <b>JACK</b> from Amazon.com</a>
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Last edited by Luke on Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.