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If you like your romantic comedies with just the right amount of fluff to complement a plot that isn't too taxing on the brain, then you can do a lot worse than Good Advice. This isn't your usual laugh-out-loud comedy as it is more the occasional chuckle-and-guffaw variety, with most of the latter coming from the supporting cast rather than the main headliners. I was pleasantly surprised with the direction of this piece as it didn't try to go overboard with the situations taking place. It just allows us to make up our own minds instead of it being forced down our throats like what Jim Carrey tends to do more often than not.

Good Advice
Basically, this is a coming-back-from-the-brink, falling-in-love and feel-good movie all rolled into one. It is also the film that Charlie Sheen met his wife-to-be Denise Richards in, although she ends up playing a self-centred bimbo who loses the guy in the end (assuming that this is a completely different situation to her own offscreen reality). You also get to see that hot brunette lady from Law and Order, Angie Harmon, playing Ryan's eventual love interest. There is also an unlikely comic pairing of Rosanna Arquette and Jon Lovitz to provide a good all-round blending of elements to make the viewing experience worthwhile. Love, lust, infatuation and genuine respect for your fellow human being all play a role here.

To fill out the mandatory one-and-a-half hours worth of viewing time, we see the characters literally transforming their personalities and perceptions of each other, which creates a bit more depth than is typically the case with these kinds of touchy-feely funny films. However, the one beef I had with this movie was near the end with its less-than-satisfying (and completely confusing) "save the day" epilogue, which still stupefies me as to how everything could turn out as rosy as they believe that it occurred onscreen. Other than that, you can safely turn off the brain if so desired and still enjoy all the low-key antics.

Movie
Slight spoilers may ensue, so please skip to avoid discovering what little there is in the movie proper.

Ryan Turner (Charlie Sheen) is your typical womanising Wall Street stock broker with about as much morals and human sensitivity as an Al-Qaeda operative. His equally gold-digging girlfriend Cindy Styne (Denise Richards) writes an advice column for the local newspaper The Journal owned by Page Hensen (Angie Harmon). Along the way, Ryan's best buddy & plastic surgeon Barry Sherman (Jon Lovitz) and his wife Cathy (Rosanna Arquette) provide the more direct comic relief to tickle one's funny bone with. Page's personal secretary Iris (Estelle Harris) also shows that you're never too old to live and love.

Good Advice
Being as naive and egotistical as Ryan's persona will allow, his luck finally runs dry when his ill-gotten investment tip goes balls-up leaving him without a job; this being the result of sleeping with the wife of media magnate Donald Simpson (Barry Newman). Ryan has to move in with Cindy but she soon ditches him for the next best thing that comes her way. Ryan's life is almost down the tubes when at the last moment Page tries to locate the missing Cindy, but instead finds Ryan who then surreptitiously takes over the "Ask Cindy" column with only Barry in the know of this deception. Ryan's attempts at Good Advice seem perfectly adequate to him at first, but Barry guides Ryan out of the masculine mindset that he has lived with all his life and soon finds the feminine side that he neither thought he had or even wanted.

Ryan reluctantly falls in love with Page as the advice column develops a huge popularity that neither of them would ever have expected. This however opens up a can of worms with Page's rival (and Ryan's former business interest) Donald wanting to buy out the services of "Cindy". As a result, Ryan's ruse complicates matters so heavily that it will jeopardise everything and everyone involved with The Journal. But as love would have it, things typically turn out all right in the end (as if you were ever in doubt).

Good Advice
Video
This transfer is just as serviceable as it needs to be, so it won't be winning any prizes at the Academy Awards basically. The PAL 16:9-anamorphic 1.78:1 presentation is enough to get you by for the 90 minutes of running time.

The colour scheme is what I would call "homely" without a lot of vibrancy inherent, it has a great sense of warmth in even the nighttime scenes. Skintones are reproduced effectively although you get a subconscious sense of the makeup not quite suiting some of the persons wearing it. The black levels are quite good with the shadow detail being pretty unremarkable which is at its worse in many of the enclosed interior scenes, although the outdoor backlit rooms do help to boost the contrast a lot better.

The focus of this image is not that sharp at all but there’s not much fine detail to want to express here onscreen anyway. Any dust or dirt here is quite minimal as is the relative presence of any grain; both are ultimately unnoticeable in the grander scheme of things. There are also no video compression artefacts of any kind save for a few unavoidable instances of shimmer that only last a couple of seconds at best.

A good transfer of an everyday film production.

Good Advice
Audio
Again, there is a token offering for this movie's soundtrack, this is all that is needed for a dialogue-only driven chick flick. Oddly enough, the R1 disc actually has a full 5.1 encoded mix but all we are left with on the R4 DVD is a Pro-Logic soundtrack, although it still makes use of all four channels quite charmingly.

The centre channel obviously gets the biggest workout in the 1½ hours allocated with all speech being easily discernible throughout. The front speakers deliver the music and extremely limited sound effects with the surrounds sounding off in liberal doses (at least it does on my Pro-Logic enabled system). The subwoofer of course does not rate much of a mention if at all, so you can probably save a few cents on your electricity bill here by shutting it off since you won't miss the thing whilst watching this movie.

Whoever did the subtitles though should be given more lessons in the three R's - they are so incorrect that it could be demonstrated to school kids how NOT to spell something just in the way that it sounds. They aren't "Hong Kong" kind of bad, just terribly misinterpreted alternatives of the proper words.

Extras
These are about as thin on the ground as the somewhat unrealistic and corny believability of this movie. The R1 DVD also has an audio commentary that is not present in this R4 incarnation, but I can't imagine what else could be said about the movie that you aren't seeing for yourselves already.

The Behind The Scenes featurette (10 mins) is the familiar talking-heads EPK designed just to promote the greatness of cast and crew for resumé purposes only. The Theatrical Trailer is included which pretty much spoils the movie for you and is 4:3 Pan & Scan'ed (try to notice the image chopping in here).

Good Advice
Overall
At half the price of a normal everyday DVD, this item might prove to be a cheap way out for the guys when buying flowers and chocolate for the devoted loved one in their life. Yes, that comment is the typical insensitive male reaction to a woman's needs or desires, but maybe this movie might help to change that simplistic testosterone-enhanced attitude just as it had with Charlie Sheen's character.

Who knows, this may just save your relationship (or destroy it if bought solely as your anniversary gift).


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