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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 1/18/00

Desert Blue
1998 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Desert Blue Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/C

Specs and Features

90 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, video for The Fruge by Rilo Kiley, 2 theatrical trailers (for Desert Blue and The Opposite of Sex), cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 3.0), subtitles: English, Spanish and French, Closed Captioned

Christina Ricci, Casey Affleck and a cast of the 1990's best and brightest upcoming film icons star in this uniquely interesting character study of a small town in the middle of a catastrophe while entertaining a minor celebrity. Skye (Kate Hudson of 200 Cigarettes) is the minor celebrity, an initially self-centered television star who finds herself in this dead-end town because of her father (a college professor writing a book on roadside attractions). It seems that Baxter, CA is the site of the world's largest ice cream cone. It was erected by Blue Baxter's father, who mysteriously died in a hotel fire a few months prior to the events in this film (young Blue himself is played by Brendan Sexton III from Welcome to the Dollhouse). The same day Skye and her father come to town, a truck carrying the secret ingredient of Empire Cola overturns. When the driver of the truck dies from supposed exposure to the ingredient, the town is quarantined and everyone finds themselves trapped. Skye naturally wants out, but then becomes strangely attracted to Blue. The story is believable, but a bit on the slow side.

The actors do really good jobs of getting down to their characters, and making us believe in them. Ricci takes a nice turn in a minor role (her Ely has a thing for blowing stuff up) -- certainly not as star-making as her Opposite of Sex role, but more human. Affleck plays a promising motorcross rider, and Ethan Suplee (Mallrats and American History X) aspires to be the town's new deputy. If you're looking for a film about about people, this is a good disc to pop in your player. It's directed by Morgan J. Freeman (no, not him), who also helmed Hurricane Street (which also starred Sexton), proving that he likes studying bored kids.

This DVD is a straight movie-only edition that serves the film very well. The picture quality is nice, with good color and contrast. It's enhanced for 16x9 and is free of artifacting. It looks great -- in other words, the usual Columbia TriStar transfer. There's a pretty good soundtrack on board. It's 3.0 Dolby Digital, that only comes alive a few times (but then again, the same can be said of the movie). Still, the track serves it's purpose. There are also a couple of trailers, and a video for a song by Rilo Kiley that I thought was cute.

All in all, this is pretty much the perfect way to showcase this film on disc. If you ever see it on the shelf and wonder about it, go ahead and pick it up. You might find it a nice little slice of life. It's a feel-good flick that tastes great AND is less filling.

Todd Doogan

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