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Ever wondered why some films were ever made? There have been a long list of movies over the years which have been complete flops. Some of them expected, but some of them had excellent casts, lots of money spent on them but still managed to perform poorly at the box office. Town & County sadly fits into that band of poor performers. With a cast including the likes of Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Andie MacDowell and Goldie Hawn you would be forgiven for thinking that it could not fail. Well read on and see how bad Town and Country really is.

Town & Country
Movie
Town & Country was originally penned in for a late 2000 release, but due to a spiralling budget and rumoured reshoots, the film finally made its debut in April 2001. With an estimated cost of between $80-100 million, Town & Country needed a decent return from the box office to make the project worthwhile. Sadly no sooner did it arrive, it was gone again. Spending only a few weeks in cinemas meant that the film was a flop. It has now received a DVD release with its distributors hoping that it can get some of its money back.

The film is based around a group of middle aged couples. Warren Beatty plays Porter Stoddard, a wealthy New York architect. Porter has everything, money, a great family and a wonderful house. He has been married to wife Ellie (Diane Keaton) for over 25 years and they seem to have the perfect marriage. That is until Porter finds out that his best friend Griffin(Gary Shandling) is having an affair. Griffin is married to Mona (Goldie Hawn). Their marriage is not as successful as the Stoddards'. They are having personal problems and are getting a divorce. Mona has also found out that Griffin is having an affair. Griffin’s affair gives Porter naughty ideas and gradually he becomes persuaded to have an affair as well.

This sparks off Porter’s attempts to get as many women as possible. Along the way he meets a violinist played by Nastassja Kinski, who also thinks that he has got her pregnant. Whilst on a flight with Mona, Porter also bumps into the eccentric character of Eugenie (Andie MacDowell). Last but not least is Mona. Porter has a fling with his best friend’s wife while they are having a break together.  The rest of the film revolves around Porter trying to juggle the women he has found while also keeping them secret from Ellie.

Town & Country
As you can see, the plot is not that great, so the success of the film essentially depends on how funny it is. Unfortunately, there are not enough laughs to raise the film to anything above mediocre. On paper the cast list looks very impressive but no one really stands out. This is not really the fault of the actors/actresses. The script they are given to work with is poor, and some of the situations that they have to act out are embarrassing. For example the end scene shows signs of promise, but what looks like being a get to together of all Porter’s women actually turns out to be an anti-climax. Warren Beatty has the main role but is never really convincing. His character is supposed to be a magnet to women, but he didn’t persuade me. I think someone like George Clooney would have been a better choice for the character of Porter. He is more desirable to women than the older Beatty. The women all give reasonable performances without really standing out. I have seen many Goldie Hawn films over the years and she seems to play the same sort of characters in all her films. In Town & County her character is a bored housewife who has endless supplies of energy. This is like her previous roles in films like ‘Overboard’ and ‘Housesitter’. Also worth mentioning is Charlton Heston, who plays Eugenie’s gun wielding father. He provides a few laughs in the final half an hour of the movie and to be honest if it wasn’t for his character I would have probably been asleep by then.

Town & County starts off quite promisingly but never really builds on it lively start. It becomes dull and boring. It has its funny moments but they are too infrequent and are buried between some silly sub plots. The ending becomes farcical, and only strengthens the fact that the movie is pointless and devoid of a plot. What puzzles me is the fact that so many well known and respected actors agreed to star in this movie. Town & Country is a poor attempt which fails to deliver on all fronts.  

Video
While the movie can be considered a disappointment, the same cannot be said for the video aspect of the disc. The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and the overall quality is superb. Sharpness and detail are impressive. Considering the age of the film it comes as no real surprise that the print is in pristine condition. Black levels are excellent and there is one scene in particular where Beatty and Shandling are standing outdoors in the dark. Behind them you can see several fair ground rides. The transfer deals impressively with the contrasting brightness. Flesh tones are accurate and the overall colour seems true. During the movie I did notice some minor MPEG artefacts but they are not distracting. There was also no obvious sign of the dreaded edge enhancement. Overall Roadshow have produced a very impressive transfer

Town & Country
Audio
This disc provides two soundtracks. They are English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0. Town & Country is very much a dialogue driven movie, so how the clarity of dialogue is extremely important. Like the video aspect of the movie, the audio side also does its job well. The dialogue comes through clearly and is not muffled during any of the louder scenes. The rear speakers are rarely used during the movie but when they were I was impressed. I remember a storm scene during the movie which was scarily accurate. There are also several crowd scenes which come over well.  

Extras
Well with an encouraging disc so far could the extras live up to the high standards? Sadly not. All we get for our money are two theatrical trailers. At first I thought the trailers were identical but on further investigation it was obvious that they were not. Entitled ‘green band’ and ‘red band’ they are essentially the same trailer apart from one of them containing a more adult theme. While watching the uncensored trailer I was shocked to hear a certain word being mentioned. I thought at the time that I must have misheard it. The original (uncensored) trailer was released but had to be pulled once people realised what the word meant. Apart from the trailer there are no other extras.  

Overall
Its always a bad sign when you have never heard of a movie which has such a high profile cast. Town & Country is sadly an underachieving movie and must join the likes of Waterworld in the list of expensive flops. Fans of the movie (I am sure there are some!) will be left confused by this release. There is an excellent transfer and soundtrack, but the extras are somewhat lacking. Town & Country has some amusing moments but it is not the sort of movie which would get repeat viewing.


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