Chances Are (Blu-ray)

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Director Emile Ardolino spent the better part of two decades working in television. Most notably at PBS, where his profiles of dancers and choreographers for their Dance in America and Live from Lincoln Center series garnered him a total of 17 Emmy Award nominations, winning three. In 1983, he directed He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin, which won the 1983 Oscar for Best Documentary, and went on to win an Emmy when it aired on television.

On the heels of those successes, Ardolino moved on to features, directing two box office smashes, Dirty Dancing and Sister Act, before his untimely death at the age of 50 from AIDS-related causes. He also made a romantic comedy called Chances Are; released in 1989, and featuring Ryan O’Neal, Cybil Sheppard (fresh off her role inMoonlighting), and a young Robert Downey Jr., in a pivotal role, the film has gained cult status.

In 1964 in Washington, D.C., Louie Jeffries (Christopher McDonald), a young prosecutor, is waiting at the altar to wed Corinne (Shepherd), when his best friend and best man, Philip Train (O’Neal), leans over and confesses that he too, is in love with the bride. Louie already knew this, and the ceremony proceeds as planned. On their first wedding anniversary, Louie is killed; run over by a car while racing to meet the pregnant Corinne for dinner.

Up in heaven, Louie is very anxious to get back to his wife. He causes such a fuss that he is rushed to the head of the line. He is given a new life so quickly, that Omar (Joe Grifasi), the dispatcher, forgets to give him the injection that erases all memory of his past life. Skipping ahead twenty-two years, Louie’s soul resides in Alex Finch (Downey), a Yale college student with dreams of being a reporter for the Post. As chance would have it, the baby conceived just before Louie died, Miranda Jeffries (Mary Stuart Masterson), is also at Yale in law school (she skipped a grade), following in her father’s footsteps.

One day, Miranda meets Alex at the school library, where he takes care of several fines for her. The two have an instant connection. After graduation, Alex travels to Washington, where he’s able to bluff his way into the office of Post editor Ben Bradlee (Henderson Forsythe). While he doesn’t get a job, he does meet old Jeffries family friend Philip Train, who as it turns out, has been looking out for Corrine, and takes an instant liking to the young man. Philip brings Alex to Corrine’s house for dinner. Despite Philip’s attentions, Corrine has never stopped living as though Louie were still there. She spends hours with her shrink (James Noble), unsuccessfully trying to move on.

When Alex enters the home where he used to live as Louie, memories come flooding back. In the midst of his shock, Alex finds himself the oddest of love triangles. Philip still hopes that Corrine will return his love. At the same time, Corrine finds herself oddly drawn to this young man she just met; Miranda has feeling for him too, but strangely, he starts treating her like a child and looking lovingly at her mother!

Nonsensical but sweet, the script by Perry and Randy Howze (who co-wrote Mystic Pizza) is the kind of material Frank Capra might have sought out. There’s nothing particularly offensive here, but the story does take the time to explore the obvious complications that crop up. The resolution is expected, but nice. Chances Are is a romantic comedy that wouldn’t be a terrible way to spend a rainy Saturday night.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Image Entertainment’s 1080p transfer is soft and rather noisy. Detail is seriously lacking. This would be considered a Blu-ray fail. It represents only a slight improvement over the DVD released in January of this year. Colors look a bit better, as do crowd scenes.

Chances Are was released in Dolby Stereo, which is reproduced on Blu-ray in lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0. It’s a solid track with good fidelity, clear dialogue and decent ambience. Maurice Jarre’s score sounds better than ever, as does the Oscar-nominated love theme, “After All”, which plays both instrumentally and in a vocal rendition by Cher and Peter Cetera.

English SDH subtitles are included.

There are no extras available.

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