Housesitter Bluray


Studio: Universal Pictures
Distributor: Shock Entertainment
Video/Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1 AVC 1080p/24
Audio: Linear PCM 2.0 @1.5mbps
Running Time: 102 Minutes

Steve Martin has always been one of those comedic actors I have enjoyed watching and he’s also been one of those comedic actors that has been able to shift between genres, be they drama or comedy without too much difficulty unlike other “typecast” comic actors.

Directed by Frank Oz, Housesitter has for many years been one of my more enjoyed Steve Martin films, second only to the previous Oz/Martin collaboration Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Newton Davis (Steve Martin) is a fledgling Architect, as the film opens we find Newton presenting his girlfriend Becky (Dana Delany) a house that he has designed and had built as a wedding proposal gift. Unexpectedly, Becky refuses his proposal which Newton doesn’t take too well. As we shift forward several months, a drunk Newton has a one night stand with Gwen (Goldie Hawn) a free sprited waitress at a party Newton attends.

That night Newton mentions a dream house that he had built for Becky in his home town but doesn’t get to use. As life carries on for Newton, Gwen decides to find this dream house and live in it without his knowledge. Gwen finds and moves into the house and pretty soon Gwen invents the story that she and Newton are married and the town slowly begins to accept her as one of their own, including Newton’s parents!

This release of Housesitter comes from independent Australian label Shock Entertainment who have licensed the title from Universal. Housesitter is one of the many catalogue releases that has yet to see the light of day from Universal. Of course, Universal are not the only studio who are reticent about releasing older catalogue titles on physical media in this digital streaming world, so it’s good to see third party companies coming to the party as it were.

There are upsides and downsides to titles being licensed from the original studio. Of course the upside is seeing a title released on bluray that may not necessarily have been released otherwise. The potential downside is these releases are generally not restored or in any way.

Housesitter is presented at 1080p in it’s original aspect ratio of 1:85:1 using the AVC codec. Housesitter is clearly derived from an older HD master as there are slightly noticeable specks, marks and occasional flicker in the image, but this is to be expected from a twenty-five year old film without any restoration. Like previous Universal catalogue releases, use of DNR has been applied to this release, but in the case of Houesitter, there hasn’t been overly excessive use of DNR and an organic layer of grain is still present. Slight deficiencies in the original transfer aside, this is the best Housesitter looked since I saw this as at the theatre as a 15 year old and easily surpasses the previous DVD, Laserdisc and VHS releases.

Shock have paired the AVC encoded video with a 1.5mbps Linear PCM 2.0 audio track which faithfully reproduces the original Dolby Stereo sound mix from 1992, it is a front heavy presentation, but is suitable for the job. There is minimal ambient use of the surrounds as originally encoded on the Dolby Stereo mix.

Housesitter only contains six chapter stops for it’s 102 minute run time. Six! Personally I prefer the use of at least 10 chapter stops per hour. The use of minimal chapter stops is something that has become more and more frequent as the decline of physical media continues and remains a personal bug bear for modern bluray releases

There are no supplements on this disc and the menu is minimal with only “play film” and “scene selection” as the only selection options.

Housesitter is an enjoyable comedy that is particularly well suited to Steve Martin’s comic style presented on a middle of the road bluray. It has been released with little fanfare by a third party distributor with no supplements, minimal chapter stops and a transfer that isn’t restored. It is however the best that the film has looked in the home environment since it’s theatrical release. At this budget price of only $15 it is well worth a look.

Film: 3.5/5 –  Bluray: 3/5


The Gift

If there is one genre I enjoy watching more than most, it’s a good thriller. Sadly good thrillers are a dime a dozen today as the genre tends to be littered with films that are either, very formulaic or just plain stupid and preposterous by the time the end credits roll around.

The Gift is written, directed and co-stars Australian actor Joel Edgerton who also plays Gordo one of the central characters to the story. It’s tough to really talk much about the events of the film without the risk of walking into spoiler town. Suffice it to say, Gordo is a quiet, awkward kind of guy who runs into Simon and Robyn, played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, at a local department store. Initially Simon is appears unaware of who Gordo is, but soon it becomes obvious to the viewer that Gordo used to go to school with Simon. Simon and Gordo strike up an awkward conversion and Simon mentions that he and his wife have recently moved back to Simon’s home town for his new job at a security company. The meet is both quiet and unassuming as the young couple carries on their day as normal.

As the days go by, things begin to get a little more uncomfortable for Simon and Robyn and creepier for the audience as Gordo begins leaving little house warming gifts for young couple at their house and shows up at random times unannounced which begins a sequence of events which are both unsettling and indeed surprising by the time the end credits roll around.

Joel Edgerton has crafted an interesting thriller here which takes your typical stalker film conventions and runs with them to places that some people may guess and some people are not. Casting here works very well for the film and Jason Bateman plays his role of Simon perfectly which really brings the film up to another level, I think that if anyone else had played this role, the film would have been worse off for it. Edgerton handles the dual role of actor and director surprisingly well, his portrayal of Gordo is both understated and haunting, Rebecca Hall on the other hand disappoints, but it is not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the film.

In this world of big budget film making with minimal plot and maximum explosions, The Gift is indeed a gift to audiences who enjoy smart film making. While The Gift probably won’t retain the same legacy in twenty years as other films in the genre like Se7en, Taxi Driver or Silence Of The Lambs for example. The Gift is still a solidly constructed film which is definitely worth your time. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll get a kick out of it.

3.5 / 5