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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/4/02

Radio Days
1987 (2001) - Orion (MGM)

review by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Radio Days Film Rating: B+

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

Specs and Features
88 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English, French and Spanish (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

One of Woody Allen's most autobiographical films, Radio Days is the most sweet, generally entertaining Woody film that you'll find. The structure of the film is very loose, telling more about the time period than any particular story or plotline, but it is fun to follow. Basically, it tells the story of a somewhat large Jewish family living in Rockaway, Brooklyn in the 1940's. Woody himself serves as the narrator, and a young Seth Green plays the young version of Woody. As the tumultuous times of World War II hit home, the family endures the hardships and always looks forward to each evening, when they sit in front of the radio and listen intensely to news of the world.

Absolutely hilarious, this film is warm and clever. Because it's so wildly put together, you really never know what to expect, but nothing hits a flat note. Dianne Wiest is particularly funny as an aunt trying to snag a husband. Throughout the film, we see her meet the most cowardly large man in New York, the nicest married man you could find, and in one of the film's most inspired scenes, a self-loathing gay man. Casting is dead on, with Julie Kavner (better known as Marge Simpson) shining as "Woody's" mother. And Woody fans will not want to miss the surprise cameo at the end, with one of his most famous and beloved collaborators (I won't give it away).

The beautiful cinematography is wonderfully presented in this anamorphic transfer. The colors are rich, and the blacks are nice. Although there appears to be an excessive amount of dirt and other print artifacts, which is a bit bothersome, the lack of haloing and compression artifacts make this more than passable. Yet again, the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio track is decent, but nothing more. With music being even more important here than in other Woody films, it would have been nice of Woody to have recorded the film in at least stereo sound. But what we get is adequate, if a little disappointing. Also, an anamorphic trailer is provided.

Radio Days is the perfect rainy day movie, a film that you can watch on the couch covered in a blanket. Though somewhat forgotten, it's definitely one of Woody's most fun efforts.

Graham Greenlee
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