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review added: 5/3/01



My Life
1993 (2001) - Columbia TriStar

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

My Life Film Rating: B

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

Specs and Features

117 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 My Life, The Deep End of the Ocean and Philadelphia), talent files, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), French and Spanish (DD Mono), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned


"Please, God... let me just live long enough to see my child."

During most of the early to mid '90s I worked at the local Cineplex. Dozens, if not hundreds, of films came and went throughout my tenure, yet the events surrounding a few of them remain vivid in my mind. One of them, My Life, had patrons - both men and women alike - crying like little children during the closing credits more than any other film we showed while I was there, including Schindler's List.

Bob Jones (Michael Keaton) is a high-powered, West coast executive, with what seems to be the perfect life. He has a beautiful wife, a gorgeous house, and a BMW. Bob even has a son on the way, which he and his wife Gail (Nicole Kidman) are very excited about. Except Bob has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his days are numbered. Sounds depressing, doesn't it? Surprisingly, the film really isn't that much of a downer. If you look beneath the surface, you'll find messages of hope and even some humor, although I wouldn't go so far as to call this a comedy. My Life is the story of how Bob prepares not for his death, but for the birth of his son, and his son's future without him. By creating home movies, Bob is able to teach his child how to shave, shake hands like a man, play basketball and many other father-son activities that Bob knows he will miss out on. Along the way, Bob must also make amends with his estranged parents and brother. My Life is a touching film in many ways and, yes, it can be sad at times. But its messages of forgiveness, love and the importance of family heartily outweigh the tragedy the film is built around.

If this film has a fault, it's that sometimes it gets too sappy and manipulative, almost as if the filmmakers are trying to physically milk tears out of the eyes of the audience. Writer/director Bruce Joel Rubin also penned Ghost, so he had some practice writing slushy dramas. The saving grace of My Life is that it has more substance than Ghost, and several valuable lessons to teach. The role of Bob Jones fits Michael Keaton like a glove. I can't think of many other actors that could have succeeded as well as Keaton here, with his spontaneous humor and decent dramatic ability, punctuated by the sincerity of his delivery. Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, while not bad in this film, just seems like she wasn't sure how to play the character. Kidman sort of rolls through the film without much of a direction, but still manages an acceptable performance. I found it interesting that while everyone in this movie has such a hard time accepting Bob's situation, Bob is the only one taking it like a man. And he's the poor bastard who's dying! At any rate, My Life is a nice little film despite its flaws. And no, I'm not ashamed to admit that the ending had me a bit misty.

The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture is above average. Colors are accurate, compression artifacting is kept to a minimum and edge enhancement is not a problem. The only issue is that, as much of this film was shot with soft filters, the image on DVD can sometimes seem just a bit too soft. A full frame version can also be found on the B-side of the disc, if anyone cares. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack is one of the best non-5.1 tracks I've heard in a long time. The soundstage is full, with the rear speakers used for frequent ambient effects, and dialog always sounds clear and spatially accurate. The best part of the sound is John Barry's hauntingly beautiful score. The music sounds rich and deep, with expansion to the surrounds further enhancing the experience.

On the extras front, you'll find talent files and theatrical trailers for My Life, The Deep End of the Ocean and Philadelphia. And that's all.

My Life might be sappy - sometimes too sappy - but it's a touching film that has some meaningful and important messages to share. And Michael Keaton couldn't have turned in a better performance. With a fair SRP of $19.95, the disc is worth a look despite the lack of extras. And if you watch, don't be afraid to let it all out at the end. Trust me... you wouldn't be the first.

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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