Carolina DVD Review
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Author:  Luke [ Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Carolina DVD Review

<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/m-p/miramax-header.jpg" alt="Miramax in Focus">
Carolina DVD Review</center>
<center><table border="0"><tr><td width="100" valign="top"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0001WTWD8/thehomeimprovemz"><img src="http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0001WTWD8.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg" width="100" height="140" border="0" alt="Buy Carolina on DVD from Amazon.com"></a></td><td width="600" valign="center"><font face="Verdana">Carolina<br>Movie and DVD Details<br>Director: Marleen Gorris<br>Cast: Julia Stiles (Carolina Mirabeau), Shirley MacLaine (Grandma Mirabeau), Alessandro Nivola (Albert Morris), Randy Quaid (Ted Mirabeau), Edward Atterton (Heath Pierson), Azura Skye (Georgia Mirabeau), Mika Boorem (Maine Mirabeau), Jennifer Coolidge (Aunt Marilyn), Alan Thicke (Chuck McBride), John Capodice (Ernie the Cook), Lisa Sheridan (Debbie), Ambyr Childers (Young Carolina), Davleigh Chase (Young Georgia)<br>Video Premiere: February 1, 2005 / Running Time: 98 minutes / Rating: PG-13<br>1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) Subtitles: English, Spanish; Closed Captioned<br>Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $29.99.</font></p></td></tr></table></center>

<i>Carolina</i> is an odd little film that was made three years ago and finally released widely on DVD earlier this winter. This Miramax picture stars Julia Stiles as Carolina Mirabeau, a young woman who has grown up under circumstances that many would consider unusual. She was raised by her Grandma (Shirley MacLaine), a bold and often obnoxious personality. Her father Ted (Randy Quaid) is mostly out of the picture. Having provided his genes for three girls, each named after the state in which they were conceived, Ted has remained absent, somewhat wild and struggling to beat alcoholism.

Less than ten minutes are spent on Carolina's childhood (in which middle daughter Georgia is portrayed by Davleigh Chase, the voice of Lilo), but they lay the groundwork for the rest of this uneven film. Now, Carolina is grown up and living on her own in Los Angeles, but her life is still very much determined by her quirky Southern family. Carolina works at a reality matchmaking TV series called "The Perfect Date", but the irony of it is--get this--she can't seem to find Mr. Right!

We're shown how Carolina has had trouble keeping relationships when her latest flakes on her after three dates. Grandma isn't the most comforting, but Carolina's best friend Albert is there for her. Albert (Alessandro Nivola of <i>Jurassic Park III</i> fame) is a closet romance novel writer who uses the pen name Daphne something or other. Grandma Mirabeau reads the books religiously, but only Carolina knows her friend's secret. But Albert has another secret that is pretty clear to the viewer from the beginning.

<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina1.jpg" alt="Julia Stiles plays Carolina."> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina2.jpg" alt="Shirley MacLaine plays her coarse grandmother."></center>

This leads to a love triangle when Heath Pierson (Edward Atterton), a dashing British contestant on the show she just got fired from, asks Carolina out and appears to be the stable longterm boyfriend she was always looking for.

Carolina and Heath's relationship, and Albert's potential feelings for Carolina together provide the romance aspects of the film. Another substantial part is family drama. Carolina's teenage sister Georgia (now played by Azura Skye) is pregnant from a one-night stand and she intends to have the baby even if she can't work up the nerve to tell Grandma. Thanksgiving with the fam and later Christmas provide more drama for Carolina and I suppose more attempts at humor. Carolina's youngest sister, the pre-teen Maine ocasionally employs a British accent and she's trying to win the lottery by riding a stationary horse in her room. Oh, and their Aunt Marilyn (Jennifer Coolidge) is a hooker who's in trouble with the law from time-to-time. It's more silly than funny and amidst the Southern caricatures, there are very few likable individuals.

Though the capable cast saves the pretty standard material from being worse than it is, that doesn't change the fact that <i>Carolina</i> is mostly an uneven and unappealing story. The DVD's tagline ("She met the boy of her dreams...twice.") doesn't seem to have any relevance to the film and its cover art makes the film look like something it's not. It never really achieves the romantic comedy tone that it wants to veil itself in. While it juggles a few subjects, none are really given satisfactory treatment.

<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina3.jpg" alt="Carolina broods in the bathtub in front of her male friend."> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina4.jpg" alt="Carolina's best friend (Alessandro Nivola) and drunk dad (Randy Quaid)"></center>

In spite of concerted efforts to create a type of believable atmosphere, the mix of quirky lower class personalities doesn't feel real or compelling. One can identify the dysfunctional family early on and much of the film doesn't aspire to do anything more than depict this strongly-bound clan of offbeat relatives.

It doesn't help matters that the film is rather incoherent at points. Whether it's the result of efforts to salvage the film or simply poor editing, there are some odd gaps in the flow of things. Questions arise and go unanswered, and though linear, the chronology is fragmented. At one point, five months have passed, and it's unclear how or why.

Perhaps the most telling sign of trouble is that the copyright year listed in the end credits is 2002. This is a film that has been sitting around for some time, and in fact, the DVD appears to have been pressed a couple of years ago and simply not released until last month. That doesn't mean we should write off <i>Carolina</i> - quality movies have been shelved in the past. But the direct-to-video route seems easy to explain by the fact that there's very little to appeal to or engage audiences.

You get an inoffensive but unfocused film, one which is not profound as it seems to think itself at times. Instead, it's curious, predictable, and unsubtle. Maybe there's someone out there for who these characters and situation could strike a chord, but I think you'd have to look long and hard. And there'd be as much point in such a search as there is in this movie, which is none.

<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina5.jpg" alt="Georgia, Maine, and Carolina. Not just states, but sisters."> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina6.jpg" alt="'Growing Pains' father Alan Thicke plays the showy host of 'Perfect Date.'"></center>

<b>VIDEO and AUDIO</b>

<i>Carolina</i> is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and it's a surprisingly far from stellar transfer. Perhaps the low-budget nature of the film is to blame, but picture quality is generally unspectacular. The video is consistently soft. There's some shimmering in a number of shots. Grain turns up quite a bit in close ups. While the DVD is of course quite watchable, it leaves a great deal to be desired for such a relatively recent film.

There's less to detract from the audio presentation, which is a basic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Music turns up in the beginning, the end, and various parts of the film one is supposed to take interest in and it sometimes pushes the dynamics too much to the point where you might be reaching for your remote. Dialogue is usually intelligble, but not always crisply conveyed. The material doesn't really demand much in the way of special effects or a spatial soundfield, and so the subdued Dolby track serves the material suitably.


The only bonus feature is "<i>Carolina</i>: Behind the Scenes" (7:45), a fast-moving, somewhat fluffy production featurette. Many cast and crew members offer praise for the film in the standard short sound bites, and there's a bit of interesting on-the-set footage. It's nothing groundbreaking, but a nice and easy inclusion for anyone who cares to hear more on the film. The most interesting relevation is that screenwriter Katherine Fugate's script is mostly autobiographical.

At the start of the disc, there is a promo for Miramax Films, which highlights the studio's various 2002 Oscar nominations and suggests that this disc has been sitting around for quite some time. The Sneak Peeks menu adds previews for <i>Scary Movie 3</i> and <i>My Baby's Daddy</i>, which supports that hypothesis. Menus are 16 x 9 still frames which feature artwork from the film. (The main menu is oh-so-cleverly a broken heart.)

<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina7.jpg" alt="Should she choose the best friend?"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/carolina8.jpg" alt="Or the British guy who has lots of money?"></center>


<i>Carolina</i> is a way to pass 98 minutes and as nothing more, it's not a very productive way to spend time. The film yearns to be a resonant romantic comedy, like it says on the back of the case, "funny and charming as <i>Sweet Home Alabama</i>." But in spite of fine performances from the cast, there's little to appreciate or relate to. The quirky, lower class Southern characters are tiresome and Carolina's romantic quandries offer nothing new. Overall, this is one to skip for anyone who's not a diehard fan of someone in the cast and even then it's a rental at best.

<center><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0001WTWD8/thehomeimprovemz">More on the DVD / Buy <b>Carolina</b> from Amazon.com</a></center>

Author:  Just Myself [ Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmm, never heard of it. After hearing your review, guess I know why. ;)

Author:  Disney Lover [ Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmm never heard of it either and usually Julia Stiles movies tend to get my attention because I like her as an actress. But from your review I don't think I'll be going to go looking for it.

Tabbi <3

Author:  That1GuyPictures [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:13 am ]
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Luke man, I love your reviews!
Just wanted to say that!
Keep up the hard work,
I really appreciate it.
(I think we all do.)

Author:  AwallaceUNC [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Good review, Luke, even if this movie doesn't seem worth any more thought. I thought this:
Carolina is a way to pass 98 minutes and as nothing more, it's not a very productive way to spend time.

was very funny. :lol:

My question is which Carolina was Carolina born in?


Author:  MickeyMousePal [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:04 am ]
Post subject: 

Great review Luke!!!! :D

Your the Main Man!!!! :wink:

Author:  RJKD23 [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:07 am ]
Post subject: 

wow, what's Carolina :?

it's a romance huh...
too bad because i don't think Julia Stiles and romance mix well. :roll:
she's better off playing a character like in 10 Things I hate About you ;)

props to you Luke for doing a review and letting us know about the movie. :)
HUGE PROPS to you! :up:

though you've made another good review (once again), you've persuaded me not to buy it. :lol:

98 minutes of my time can be spent...shopping for Pooh plushes. :P hahah!

Author:  DreamerQ18 [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

Awwww Poor Carolina I dont rememeebr hearing asbout this movie ibeing in theaters but then again I cant usually rememeber what I had for breakfast 2 days ago. But the preview on shall we dance totlay caught my eye. I actually want to check this movie but its really hard to find. I work at Blockbuster and we didnt get it the day it came on DVD. Any ideas as to where I could track down to see?

Author:  Luke [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

awallaceunc wrote:
My question is which Carolina was Carolina born in?


A question proposed twice (with some sort of deep meaning), and yet as far as I know, NOT answered. I was going to work that into the review somehow, but I thought I had put enough words into putting it down. You can guess it's North, and you'd have a 50% chance of being right! :)

Thanks for the kind words. I didn't expect that many people to read it, so I'm glad to get some feedback.

DreamerQ18 wrote:
Awwww Poor Carolina I dont rememeebr hearing asbout this movie ibeing in theaters but then again I cant usually rememeber what I had for breakfast 2 days ago.

It never made it to theaters. Good luck trying to find it. I shouldn't think it's that hard as a "major" DTV release but if Blockbuster doesn't have it, then that surprises me.

Author:  pinkrenata [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

DreamerQ18 wrote:
Awwww Poor Carolina I dont rememeebr hearing asbout this movie ibeing in theaters but then again I cant usually rememeber what I had for breakfast 2 days ago. But the preview on shall we dance totlay caught my eye. I actually want to check this movie but its really hard to find. I work at Blockbuster and we didnt get it the day it came on DVD. Any ideas as to where I could track down to see?

I've seen it at Target.

Author:  Escapay [ Fri Mar 18, 2005 5:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmm, maybe I'll get this just cause there's a major character named Albert!

Otherwise, it sounds like one of those movies you wait to see on TV at like 2 am or something.


Author:  AwallaceUNC [ Thu Jun 09, 2005 10:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

My ex-girlfriend, who is a UD reader but not a UD member, watched this movie tonight and then read this review and says, "I'm totally feelin' that" and that she liked the review, so I thought I'd share the feedback. :)


Author:  chaychay102royal [ Thu Jun 09, 2005 10:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

Great review, Luke!

While I found the storyline vaguely interesting, your review has persuaded me not to buy it. It wouldn't be too difficult for me not to buy it--I've never seen the DVD before!

Author:  Disney Guru [ Thu Jun 09, 2005 10:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Hi

I saw this movie when the dvd came out, the only thing that I liked about the movie was Shirley MacLaine's role. Other than that I couldn't stand the movie.

Author:  Luke [ Thu Jun 09, 2005 11:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

Cool! Aaron's ex, Chay Chay, and the Guru are feelin' my review! 8)

Author:  Timon/Pumbaa fan [ Thu Jun 09, 2005 11:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

Good review Luke. Even though I never heard of it either! :P

Author:  chaychay102royal [ Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:44 pm ]
Post subject: 

Luke wrote:
Cool! Aaron's ex, Chay Chay, and the Guru are feelin' my review! 8)

We "feel" all your reviews! :) I haven't read one that I didn't like or vehemently disagreed with.

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