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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/1/00

Murphy's Romance
1985 (2000) - Columbia TriStar

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Murphy's Romance Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/B+/D-

Specs and Features

107 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full-frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailers for Murphy's Romance, Absence of Malice, My Best Friend's Wedding and Sleepless In Seattle, talent files, film-themed menu screens, scene selection (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Closed Captioned

"It's good not to taper off."

Headstrong single mom Emma (Sally Field) has just moved to Eunice, Arizona in search of a new life with her son Jake (played by Corey "Whatever Became of Me?" Haim). Money is tight and times are hard for Emma and Jake, as they struggle to survive in this small, dusty town filled with down-home country folk. That's when Murphy Jones (James Garner) tips his hat. Murphy is a lifelong resident of the town, and is respected and admired by all (except City Hall). He becomes something of a confidant to Emma and his words of wisdom comfort her and inspire her to make the most of every day. With his wisdom, however, comes the voice of a stubborn and difficult old timer.

Just as she begins to find her way, life once again gets complicated for Emma when her sleazy ex-husband, Bobby Jack (Brian Kerwin), shows up unexpectedly on her doorstep. For her son's sake, Emma allows Bobby Jack to stay with them a while until he gets back on his feet. Meanwhile, Murphy is starting to come around more often, and Emma just might be falling in love. Emma must learn how to close one chapter of her life before opening the next.

Murphy's Romance is quite a charming little film. The characters are well developed and the script contains some really clever dialog. James Garner absolutely steals the movie with his blunt words of wisdom and his seemingly endless supply of quips and shrewd remarks. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, the story's focus seems to get lost and I just wanted it to go ahead and finish. At 107 minutes, it's not overly long, but the last 15-20 minutes had me looking at my watch wondering when they were going to wrap things up. Nonetheless, Murphy's Romance is still fine cinema-lite that deserves your attention, especially if you're a James Garner fan.

The anamorphic widescreen picture (framed at 1.85:1) is a bit disappointing. The master print used for the disc is noticeably dirty, and the picture is plagued by mostly minor, but almost constant, compression artifacting. The reds in the film are slightly oversaturated, and the picture looks a tad hazy. On the disc's flip side is a full-frame (1.33:1) version of the film. The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is acceptable, however a simple Dolby Surround soundtrack would have been welcomed. But as mono soundtracks go, it's not bad, with easy to understand dialog.

Murphy would shake his head in disapproval if he were to see the lack of extras on this DVD. Some talent biographies and a few trailers are all that are to be found. The booklet contained in the box does offer a few interesting tidbits of information about the film, but a short behind-the-scenes featurette would have been more entertaining.

If you ever feel a little down and out and need some cheering up, check out Murphy's Romance - a charming little film about friendship and... well, romance. The lack of extras might turn some off, but it's at least worthy of a rental.

Greg Suarez
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