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Benny & Joon (Blu-ray Review)

You gotta love the early 90’s when it comes to films and filmmaking.  The fashion sense was still transitioning from the 80’s, so there was that learning curve that we all had to get through.  Johnny Depp was nowhere near a superstar back then, but was still seen as one of the few recognizable actors to do his own thing and take the occasional oddball role here and there.  Benny & Joon would be one of those roles.  How does Benny & Joon stack up to the more mainstream and typical love stories nearly twenty years later?  More importantly, how does Benny & Joon stack up on Blu-ray?  The second question will be easier to answer than the first one.  Enjoy our review of Benny & Joon on Blu-ray. 

 

Film 

Benny & Joon is an early 90’s film about Joon (Masterson) who is under the watchful eye of her older brother and caretaker Benny (Quinn).  Joon has issues.  Issues of the emotional kind, to be exact.  Benny has to keep a very close eye on her, because she is always getting herself in trouble for no apparent.  Eccentric would be an understatement.  Benny lives a chaotic life, because he has to constantly keep an eye out for Joon’s random acts of crazyness while at the same time run an auto mechanic garage.  One night Benny and his friends are playing poker, and as Benny steps out for a bit, Joon enters the game and lays down some bets.  One of Benny’s friends makes a bet with her that if she loses the game she has to go on a date with his cousin Sam (Depp).  Guess who loses.  Sam has many things in common with Joon, but everyone around sees him as a misfit.

Having never seen Benny & Joon when I was growing up, but being bombarded with the promotional material and that damn soundtrack, I was expecting a dumb comedy about a bunch of crazy hipster characters who were on the brink of being homeless.  To my surprise I found find Benny & Joon to be quite good, funny, and touching.  It didn’t go to jugular with its sentimentality which is always a plus in my book.  That’s probably why I enjoyed it so much.

There is one poignant scene during the film that is pretty dark, but ends up  giving the character depth. It’s like that character has been forgiven for past transgressions.  If that makes sense.  It totally throws you for a loop, but has a reason for being there.  I mean, they’ve always billed Benny & Joon as a “hilarious” comedy.  Really?  After watching that particular scene I wouldn’t go that far.  Mary Stuart Masterson is great as the troubled and mentally unstable Joon.  Aidan Quinn is great as the protective and understanding older brother that has to look after his little sister.  Johnny Depp, as the goofy, but mysterious Sam is the second coming of Charlie Chaplan in the film.

In addition to the stellar main cast; Benny & Joon has a stellar supporting cast of very familiar faces which include: Julianna Moore, Oliver Platt, William H. Macy, and Dan Hedaya who are all great in their roles.  Julianna Moore is especially good in her role as a waitress at a local diner who may have a thing for Benny.  Or does Benny have a thing for her?

Benny & Joon may be a bit transparent, because we all know what will happen.  What holds it back is that it has multiple themes going on at the same time.  I’d say the dramatic elements are what sells the story, because there’s much more to it than meets the eye.  Act II & Act III are great.  Act I, not so much, but if you can get past the first part of the film, then you will probably enjoy the rest of it.  It’s a trip to see how young some of these actors looked back in ’92-’93.

Video 

Benny & Joon is presented in 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen.  Benny & Joon looks average at best.  Contrast seems boosted, and some of the outside scenes look too bright for their own good.  I did notice more than few instances of softness in the picture.  Colors were bold and vivid at times, but on other occasions, they were muted and drab.  The scenes in the park looked great, though.  The green scenery had some pop.  Black levels didn’t seem to fluctuate, but with the contrast being boosted a bit, they weren’t as dark as they could have been.  Again, average.

Audio 

Benny & Joon is presented in DTS-HD Mater Audio 2.0.  Considering the material, this is a pretty lively track.  You’ve got cars, trains, and all sorts of real-life things happening all around and the soundtrack really captures it nicely.  In 2.0.  I know!   I was pleasantly surprised.  When you hear the trademark Proclaimers song you will probably bust out into dance.  It comes through the left and right channels loud and clear, and considering the film is primarily dialogue driven, those scenes play out great, too.  I wonder what a full 5.1 would have sounded like.  *hint-hint*

Special Features

Benny & Joon has a smidgeon of charming special features.  The reason I say these are “charming” special features is because they have been ported over from the DVD which were ported over from the laserdisc.  I love laserdisc, so that was pretty cool of them to just keep those features from the original LD.  Then again it does get a low rating in that department, because there isn’t that much stuff on the Blu-ray.  Those is the bricks, I guess.  I suggest watching the deleted scenes in particular and check out one called “Mutilator.”  It is pretty epic!

  • Audio Commentary by Director Jeremiah Chechik
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Costume, Make-Up Test and Stunt Reel
  • Music Video
  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts 

Benny & Joon is a surprisingly deeper film than what the advertisements would let on.  All of the main characters have depth to their characters, so I wouldn’t go in there with the mentality that it’s a chick-flick or hilarious comedy per se.  Does it have those types of flourishes?  Sure, but it doesn’t dwell on those things.   The overall lower-end score is for the lack of special features and “just okay” technical specs.  Now the real question is…would you walk 500,000 miles for this Blu-ray?

 

Order Benny & Joon on Blu-ray!

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

3 Responses to “Benny & Joon (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Sean Ferguson

    I almost reviewed this just for Johnny Depp. I didn’t know the director of this was also the director of Christmas Vacation which probably would have tipped the scales enough to make me review it. Thanks for the review! I’ll have to add this to my list to see.

  2. Brian White

    This is still one I need to see one day.

  3. Big Boys Oven

    hmmmm sound ok