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James Foley
Madonna, Griffin Dunne, Haviland Morris, John McMartin, Bibi Besch, John Mills, Robert Swan, Drew Pillsbury
Writing Credits:
Andrew Smith, Ken Finkleman

A funny thing happened on the way to the bus station.

Four years unjustly jailed haven't dampened the spirits or determination of Nikki Finn. The spunky parolee sets out to clear her name - and sets the Big Apple spinning in deliriously funny ways. "Madonna is sexy and funny - a very engaging comedian," Vincent Canby of "The New York Times" wrote of her work in Who's That Girl. The music/movie superstar displays kicky comic flair and sings four terrific soundtrack tunes ("Causing a Commotion", "The Look of Love", "Can't Stop", and the title song). Griffin Dunne co-stars as an uptight, soon-to-wed attorney whose mild lifestyle swerves into the path of uproarious oncoming traffic courtesy of Nikki. This frisky caper proves screwball comedy is alive and swell.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$7.305 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Stereo
French Stereo

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 2/14/2006

• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

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Who's That Girl (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 9, 2006)

At the start of Madonna’s career, folks felt she wanted to be the next Marilyn Monroe. With 1987’s Who’s That Girl, Madonna set her sights on other – albeit less famous – screen icon: Judy Holliday. For her third film, Madonna plays Nikki Finn, a woman framed for a crime she didn’t commit. After four years, she gets out on parole and is determined to track down the real criminals and clear her name.

Into her life steps Louden Trott (Griffin Dunne). A tax attorney engaged to his boss’s daughter Wendy (Haviland Morris), he gets an assignment to accompany Nikki from jail to the bus station and make sure she leaves town. Oh, and he also has to pick up a rare tiger to deliver to a client named Montgomery Bell (Sir John Mills).

Darned if that free-spirited Nikki doesn’t put a turn on button-down Louden’s plans! She immediately alters the situation for her own benefit and leads Louden through a wild chase. This leads them to gun dealers, car thieves and other miscellaneous baddies as Nikki tries to solve her case and Louden attempts to maintain his sanity.

This is the part of the review where I tell you how much I’ve loved Madonna’s music for the last 20 years. After that I note how hard I try to like her in her movies. Then I moan that I just can’t muster any affection for her flicks since they almost always suck.

Sometimes I’m not sure why I bother to review Madonna movies. My discussions do usually sound the same, and I’ll have to hit those notes again for my look at Who’s That Girl. Madonna the singer? Great! Madonna the actor? Terrible!

Actually, even the musical side of things lets us down a little here. Madonna provided four songs for Girl. None of them are bad, but none of them stands out as memorable. Like the movie itself, they all sound recycled. The title track just reworks “La Isla Bonita”, while “Causing a Commotion” is such a blatant rewrite of “Into the Groove” that it even quotes the earlier song!

As mediocre as those songs are, they stand as the biggest positives about this dud. I can think of absolutely nothing positive to say about Girl. A pathetic attempt to update the screwball comedy, it’s heavy on screwball, light on comedy, and that’s true only if we equate “screwball” to mean “crappiness”.

I won’t criticize Girl for its lack of believability. Like Bringing Up Baby - a very clear inspiration – it never attempts to ground us in the real world. Unlike Baby, however, Girl fails to manifest interesting characters, entertaining situations, or anything vaguely resembling a funny moment.

And Madonna’s arguably the worst thing about the film. She takes Nikki’s cartooniness to an incredibly irritating extreme. This requires poor Dunne to behave in more and more over the top manners just to keep up with her. From her smirk to her cackle to her strut, everything about Madonna’s performance makes me want to gouge out my eyes and set fire to my TV.

Imagine how much I’d hate the movie if I didn’t feel such goodwill toward Madonna! I can’t blame her for her attempts to become a movie star, though I will slam those who gave her work as an actress. Who’s That Girl fuels the fire for those who think she lacked any talent as a thespian, and it turns into a painful viewing experience.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Who’s That Girl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Some highs appeared here, but I found too many lows for the transfer to merit anything about a “C+”.

Colors were the biggest concern. At times the hues looked reasonably vivid, especially due to Nikki’s bright red skirt. However, the tones often seemed jaundiced and anemic. A light yellow tint covered the frame and made it look the color of a longtime smoker’s teeth.

Sharpness was erratic as well. Much of the film offered pretty decent delineation, but wide shots tended to look a bit soft and ill-defined. Still, the majority of the movie remained acceptably detailed. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but a little light edge enhancement was apparent.

Print flaws varied. I saw occasional examples of specks, streaks and grit, and grain was a bit heavy. Most of the movie passed without problems, though. Blacks were reasonably firm and tight, and low-light situations delivered fair clarity. At times Girl could look very good, but the different distractions rendered this a “C+” transfer.

The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Who’s That Girl also boasted highs and lows. On the positive side, it featured a surprisingly active soundfield. I expected good stereo presence for the score and songs, and that’s what I got. However, I didn’t anticipate that effects would be as broad and engaging as they were. Cars and other atmosphere moved well across the front channels, and the mix offered a nice sense of place. The surrounds reinforced the louder scenes and gave the mix a strong feel.

Audio quality caused some concerns, unfortunately. Speech was acceptably concise and natural, though I occasionally noticed some edginess. Distortion also affected louder effects, and those elements never seemed much better than average. The effects tended to be a bit thin and flat. Music had decent high-end but lacked much bass much of the time. Some of that stemmed from production styles, but the tracks still showed have showed deeper low-end. Given its era, I found this to be a “B-“ soundtrack, largely because it earned points through its solid soundfield.

As with the other budget DVDs that accompany it as February 14, 2006 releases, Who’s That Girl comes with almost no extras. We simply find the movie’s trailer.

Even after the one-two stinkeroo punch of Shanghai Surprise and Who’s That Girl, studios still gave Madonna work as an actress. I guess that’s an indication of her popularity as a singer, for she sure never showed talent as a thespian. Girl stands as arguably her worst film and crummiest performance. The DVD offers pretty mediocre picture and audio plus negligible extras. Despite my status as a diehard Madonna fan, I can’t recommend this clunker to anyone.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 18
4 3:
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