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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Chances Are  (1989)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: April 22, 2014) – Two years after breaking out with 1987's sleeper smash "Dirty Dancing," director Emile Ardolino (who passed away from AIDS in 1993) followed up this success with "Chances Are," a variation on the body-swap comedies that were so big from 1987-1989 (e.g., "Big," "Vice Versa," "Like Father, Like Son," "18 Again"). A warmly felt, if at times cornball, romantic comedy that seems to have been largely forgotten over the last twenty-five years, the film stars Cybill Shepherd as Corinne Jeffries, a Washington, D.C. native who is devastated when her beloved prosecuting attorney husband, Louie (Christopher McDonald), is hit by a car and killed on their first wedding anniversary. Twenty-three years later, recent university graduate and aspiring newspaper journalist Alex Finch (Robert Downey Jr.) has chance run-ins with Corinne's college-aged daughter, Miranda (Mary Stuart Masterson), and Miranda's godfather, Washington Post reporter Philip Train (Ryan O'Neal), days apart from each other. Through them, he meets Corinne and is suddenly flooded with memories of a past life. Convinced he is Corinne's reincarnated dead husband, Alex must now evade Miranda's advances (she is technically his daughter, after all) while figuring out how to convince true-love Corinne of his real identity.

Written with heartfelt, life-affirming whimsy by Perry Howze and Randy Howze, "Chances Are" stirs fantasy, screwball comedy and romance into an easy mix buoyed by the performances of its four central cast members. The humor wavers between amusing and over-the-top while the premise itself edges slightly into discomfort when suggestions of incest between Miranda and Alex (really her dad, Louie, in his former life) are tidily swept under the rug by the time the upbeat ending arrives. All the same, a charming, youthful Robert Downey Jr. is irresistible as Alex, while Cybill Shepherd brings poignant longing to Corinne, who sees in Alex the possibility for a second chance with the man she was supposed to grow old with. Kudos for the incorporation of Rod Stewart's "Forever Young" in one key scene, and the use of Oscar-nominated song "After All," performed by Peter Cetera and Cher, as a running melodic theme.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

There are plusses and minuses to the 1080p transfer offered up for the 108-minute "Chances Are." On the bright side, there is an even level of natural grain throughout and very few detectable nicks, scratches, dirt or debris on the image. When compared to its standard-def DVD counterpart, there is no contest that this Blu-ray is a step above. Where the picture runs into trouble is in the use of what is obviously a dated video master. Some shots display impressive clarity, but more often the image is lacking in fine detail and that special high-definition verve one expects from the format. More a testament to the original look of the film than anything, there is a slight hazy glaze over much of the movie frequently exemplified by a lot of late-'80s releases. It's a mixed bag, to be sure, but fans should still be pleased that the transfer does, indeed, improve upon all previous formats. A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio is included and does its job. Dialogue is clear and music is effective, but of course this is a front-heavy mix and doesn't exactly call for the auditory fireworks that lossless tracks are capable.

Blu-ray Features

Bottom Line
Image Entertainment did not do a full-blown clean-up and remastering for the Blu-ray release of "Chances Are" and special features are nonexistent, but the distributor should be commended for caring enough to put this small, sweet love story in high-def at all. Worthy of being rediscovered by fans of any of the actors or '80s comfort-food movie enthusiasts in general, "Chances Are" earns a recommendation.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman