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Brewster's Millions (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000175215
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 9/8/2016 16:09
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    Review for Brewster's Millions

    9 / 10


    Given how much of a home cinema nut I am, you may find it surprising that it’s taken me this long to finally own one of my favourite movies on home video. I had taped Brewster’s Millions off TV way back when, and that video got plenty of play, so much so that I never bothered buying an official VHS release. That was when I was only buying widescreen VHS tapes, and Brewster’s Millions remained resolutely pan and scan. It also remained pan and scan for all of its UK DVD releases. By the time I could have imported the US DVD, I’d finally got a Blu-ray player, and decided instead to wait. It’s taken this long for Brewster’s Millions to get a Blu-ray release, and we in the UK get it first of all.

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    Brewster’s Millions is a nice film to remember when you decry Hollywood’s penchant for remakes and reboots. Most people of my age will even now point to this 1985 version as the definitive, and probably won’t even be aware of any other versions, but this is actually the seventh Brewster’s Millions movie, and subsequently there have been a few Bollywood versions, while Brewster’s Billions is listed as in production at IMDB. I haven’t seen any other version of the film, so why is this one so perfect?

    Montgomery Brewster is the star pitcher for the Hackensack Bulls, a team that has a railway passing through its outfield. That might give you the impression that Brewster tends to have a tough time making ends meet, but that changes when he gets a message from beyond the grave. He never knew that his great uncle Rupert Horne was a multi-millionaire; he never knew his great uncle was white! But Horne knew about his only living relative Monty Brewster, and he was less than impressed. Horne devised a ‘test’ for Brewster to pass before he inherits $300 million. Brewster has to spend $30 million dollars in 30 days, without having anything to show for it at the end of the month, and without telling anyone of the conditions of the will; not even his best friend Spike Nolan. If he succeeds, he gets the full amount, but if he fails, the $300 million goes to the legal firm of Granville and Baxter.

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    Brewster’s Millions gets a pretty straightforward 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. It’s nothing spectacular, certainly not a new transfer from a re-mastered print, and most likely just using the original master again. It looks better than you’ll have seen it before most certainly, and not just for the original aspect ratio. There’s a decent amount of detail, it’s pretty solid, stable and clear throughout, although the colour palette rarely perks up. There is a smidge of dirt, a few signs of age, and some scenes are softer than others. The biggest complaint might be the lack of dark detail; anyone wearing black clothing might as well be wearing midnight, but it’s certainly better than anything DVD can manage.

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    You get the original mono track, presented here in DTS-HD MA 2.0 English, and it’s perfectly fine, the dialogue clear for the most part, a nice level of clarity and solidity to the audio, with no glitches or issues with age, and of course we get music from my favourite decade. There was a time when Patti LaBelle featured on every movie soundtrack! The one downside here is a lack of subtitles.


    The disc is presented in a standard Amaray, which features the poster art on the cover. The disc boots to an animated menu and the extra features on board seem to be lifted from that US DVD release, text biographies for the cast and director, production notes, and the theatrical trailer in SD and 4:3.

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    There’s something about the Brewster’s Millions story set during the decade of greed and excess that makes it all the more poignant, the antithesis of Wall Street and the ‘greed is good’ philosophy. Here it’s the lesson that with wealth comes problems, problems that you least expect, and there’s no joy to be had with egregious amounts of money. Of course that’s a pretty puritanical position, but it’s how the film presents the message that makes it work. Even now, thirty years on, Brewster’s Millions is a great comedy, which makes the most of the decade of greed to present its vision, yet it too has an aspect to it that works even better today than it did in 1985.

    Brewster’s Millions is also a star vehicle for Richard Pryor. You simply can’t imagine anyone else in the role, and presented with the mountain of $30 million to get rid of, it’s his constant ‘on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ persona that carries the film. It’s also helped by great comic writing, a perfect pace, and a solid supporting cast, not least of which is John Candy as Brewster’s best friend Spike.

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    There’s a lot of fun to be had watching Brewster go on his crazy spending spree, the various ideas and schemes that he comes up with, the sycophants and crackpot schemers that surround him looking for a handout, and the media furore that ensues as he gains his notoriety. There’s a bit of villainy in the scheming law firm looking to hold onto that estate (you can see a bit of a parallel here between this film and Trading Places), while there’s a little romance too, with accountant Angela Drake by turns being confused, inspired and sickened by Brewster’s profligacy.

    The key aspect to the film that makes it even more relevant today is the ‘None of the Above’ campaign. In an era where we’re subject to spin, sound-bites, and outright lies from politicians that care more about winning than the truth, more about personalities than policies, you can’t help but look wistfully at the final act of this film, where to empty his bank accounts, Brewster self-funds a campaign against two rival and allegedly corrupt mayoral candidates, running on the premise that it’s better not to vote, than to vote for someone who’s in it purely for self interest. I get the feeling that if ‘None of the Above’ was an option in UK elections, no one would ever be elected again.

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    Brewster’s Millions still works brilliantly as a comedy today, and is well on its way to becoming a timeless classic, a morality tale wrapped up in a whole lot of mirth. The film has been woefully underserved on home video, and while you could expect a whole lot more from a Blu-ray release, this is still better than anything that has been released before.

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