The First Wives Club – Paramount Presents (Blu-ray Review)

Paramount Presents continues to be a label that not only surprises and endures the passion of home video collecting every month, it supplies a varied catalog of all shapes and sized from different genres, eras, filmmakers, stars and more. On June 28th, they released the 1996 superstar comedy The First Wives Club to their arsenal. It features a brand new 4K restoration of the film and a new Filmmaker Focus featurette with the film’s screenwriter. The team up of Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler is one for the ages and the film was one of the bigger comedy success stories from the 90s. You can now finally own it (Probably overdue for making it to the format, no?) by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review at the bottom of this page.



Despondent over the marriage of her ex-husband to a younger woman, a middle-aged divorcée plunges to her death from her penthouse. At the woman’s funeral, her former college friends (Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton) reunite for the first time in nearly 30 years. When the three discover the reason for their friend’s suicide, they realize that all of their ex-husbands have taken them for granted — and deciding it’s time for revenge, they make a pact to get back at their exes.

Based on the novel by Olivia Goldsmith, The First Wives Club wound up being one of the biggest surprise hits of 1996 after being me with a big “meh” from critics. The film brushed that right off its should on the way to crossing $100 million in domestic box office receipts alone. This is a film that people even had interest in seeing a sequel done (That never came out). It importantly revitalized the career of its trio of leads in Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn. While Hollywood always wants to go younger (Especially with women in this era), the film went against the grain and proved that you don’t have to and can still have success giving these women leads.

The film is a case of the novel working well enough that its plot and details are going to work anyway, so it allows for a playground for its performers to seek their teeth into and make their own. Hawn, Keaton and Midler are so comfortable in these characters that they really elevate the film to a whole other level of fun and make the film better than it potentially could have been. And it plays this way for the supporting cast and one scene/cameo performers as well (Featuring the cinematic debut of Timothy Olyphant) as they feed off of the leading ladies and produce something nifty and worth coming back to.

The First Wives Club isn’t lightning in a bottle, its the result of giving something a chance. Trusting in your leads to carry and producing something uncompromised (There’s a lot of things added/changed from the novel and the director apparently was open to some neat additions) that allows everyone to play to their strengths. The score was nominated for an Academy Award even. But this film remains some refreshing adult comedy fun that doesn’t try and be anything bigger than it is, yet is probably better than it could have been had the right people not been involved and it not allowed to float around and be open as a production.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail The First Wives Club debuts on Blu-ray with a gorgeous 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray transfer. Movies from the 1990s can be up and down in terms of impressing and popping with standard Blu-ray, but with 4K transfers we can really get some of the depth they used to lack and a boldness in the color saturation that helps them look great once again. This one is full of that and includes very fine details and textures along the way.

Depth:  Depth of field is quite strong and pronounces it from the opening scene of the film, giving you some wonderful push back and space in interiors as well as the scale of big city New York. Movements are natural and filmic with no issues coming from any sort of rapid actor or camera movements.

Black Levels: Blacks levels are deep, rich and close to natural. They really help bring out the image with great contrast and the ability to without good information, texture and patterns among some of the darkest corners of the frame. No crushing witnessed. Little heavier grain visible in the darker areas.

Color Reproduction: Colors have a natural feel to them but a nice bold, strong, pronounced appearance for the regular everyday browns, grays, etc. Some of the flashier colors of course stand out but nothing bleeds or is too vivid. This is about as ideal a look for the color on a film not focused on being flashy that one could hope for.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial information and texture comes through clear as day from pretty much any given distance the actor is from the camera in the frame. Freckles, lip texture, sweat, wrinkles and more just radiate through the frame like looking through a window.

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

Dynamics: The First Wives Club features a pretty solid 5.1 mix that almost feels a stereo one may have been the way to go. It features great balance and volume on throughout the film, but lacks some of the weight you probably would expect with 5.1. Not that this is some sort of big actioner or anything, but it could offer some more. The track does contain plenty of depth and layering while being a little heavier toward the front in terms of focus and delivery.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Here’s where this mix is much to light. There’s a lack of “oomph” from the subwoofer that could really bolters some sound effects as well as the bass and drums in the music and score featured in the film.

Surround Sound Presentation: As mentioned up top, the mix is very front heavy, but there’ s very good sound travel back and forth and some solid ambiance that gets provided from the rear channels though light and not too complex.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


The First Wives Club in first pressing, comes with a slip cover that folds open to reveal the original poster art for the film. It also comes with the standard Blu-ray disc and a redeemable digital copy. All bonus material found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Filmmaker Focus With Screenwriter Robert Harling (HD, 10:57) – “Everybody had a story how painful it is to be rejected”. He talks the voices in his head as he was writing and the excitement with how the cast portrayed the characters and enhanced his script. Harling shares that they tried to get Princess Diana to cameo at the end of the film, which wound up going to Ivana Trump and that she came up with the line “Don’t get mad, get everything”. He dismisses a sequel, saying he likes the audience to image on their own where it goes from here.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:28)


The First Wives Club not only comes from a pretty clever novel, it features some ground for some very clever to performers to run amuck and make their own. Paramount Presents pops it into their line with a fantastic 4K transfer of the film to go along with a pretty solid interview with the screenwriter reflecting on it from conception to legacy. Sure, there’s the desire for the bigger names to hop on and do retrospective interviews, but for what it is, this is a solid package with the film looking better than ever.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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