Suppose there’s a alternate universe where the flabbergasting $53 million (or thereabouts) spent to make Gone Fishin’ went towards a feature audiences were clamoring for. Just space out for a second and imagine a comedy about two endearing, likeable characters on a road trip to go fishing, but keep getting bumped off course by Planes, Trains, and Automobile antics.
That’s not what what Gone Fishin’ became. It’s a safe bet someone saw Lethal Weapon: On Vacation when they reeled in (sorry) Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. These two, however, are not the characters known for their bickering. They’re children, 60+ year olds who never grew up, and never shut up. Their schtick? Repeating what the other says. That’s worth a $50 million bankroll.
Their entire world is fishing in that Joe (Pesci) and Gus (Glover) only talk about fish, watch Willie Nelson (!) fish on TV, and obsess about how well they can fish in a new boat. If only there wasn’t a villain worth either a $100,000 in reward money or $2 million in cash…
That whole plot thread turns these two family men into scuzzy opportunists, less concerned with their purposeful trip the everglades as they are the flood of cash soon to be bestowed upon them in rewards. It’s one thing when their on-screen personalities are grating caricatures of clumsy, doltish teenagers trapped in a senior citizens body. It’s another when they’re in it only for the money, no matter how sympathetic the script wants them to be towards the villain’s victims.
Both stars are miles above this bottom feeding material, characters better situated in an animated flick for the younger set than a starring vehicle for two stars hitting their peak in a major franchise back in ’97. Acted out in front of cameras, Gus and Joe’s destructive path has more riding it on it than harmless antics. They fires, blow stuff up, and nearly kill themselves to save their boat. There’s a physical comedy line where it stops being amusing and turns painful. In fact, a stuntwoman was killed in boating accident gone awry. That leaves a deep black mark on a film that never should have been green lit.
Somewhere, sometime, and some place, there was a HD network sprouting from the depths of standard definition, and they needed movies… movies to attract, for HDTV owners to lust over. For some reason, they picked Gone Fishin’, and that’s the master we’re dealing with here.
Don’t take that the wrong way. Blu-ray critics, for all of our time spent seething in basements watching home media because the socially-inclined theaters terrify us, are realists. You are reading a review from someone who does understand that the cinematography bliss that is Gone Fishin’ wasn’t going to sparkle with beauty. No one in their right mind cares if Gus and Joe shine in HD, much less so for the $6 Mill Creek wants for this thing.
But, and this is being said with all the caveats above, Gone Fishin’ could look better. Mill Creek does a fine job, assuming they’re the ones that did the encode. The compression, despite a flimsy file size, does handle a small time grain structure. Sure, its been clipped a bit by a smidgen of DNR, but in the end it’s all semantics. It’s there, but you won’t find a call on the internet to cut off the head of Mill Creek because Gone Fishin’ was a victim of noise reduction.
If you are going to splurge and spend the $6 for some Danny Glover and Joe Pesci buddy action, you’ll probably want to know before hand that the black levels are passable. That’s probably important. Color has a nice presence too, flesh tones and all that tolerable if not in their glossy, uber-saturated ways. There are some signs of left over edge enhancement too, as if someone started the sharpening process and decided against it midway through.
Most of the issues, mainly the medium/long shots, are more a victim of the low res master than anything else. A 2K or 4K scan would probably cause the machine to spit the print back out in the great video processing machine take over of 2012. Want to know why Skynet became self-aware in the Terminator movies? Someone tried to force an 8K feed of Gone Fishin’ through some scanning software. The computers never forgave us.
You’re still here, huh? You, dear reader, are so invested in your purchases, you need to pop out your smart phone, find this review, and be reassured that the $6, Wal-Mart bargain bin Blu-ray you’re holding in your hand will rock your home theater? Well, it will actually.
No, seriously. The flick starts out with a moving flame that sprouts with a bump in the LFE, and swells to hit the surrounds. Chances are you’re wondering if the fishing sounds okay though, right? Well, it might if the film actually had any fishing. Go to your happy place and create the sounds of insects and birds, waves splashing, and Joe Pesci’s mouth running uncontrollably. That’s what it probably would sound like.
There are a couple of action scenes that perform well. After all, this was 1997, and sound mixing was truly coming into its own. Clearly, the $53 million was no expense spared, least of all the audio. Voices echo into the rears inside a cave, an alligator is boxed into submission (and you still want to buy this, huh?), and a few wolf howls are slapped into the rears for ambiance. A runaway boat leads to plenty of smashing into the poor saps sitting quietly sea side, while a hotel lights up after a gas leak catches fire. It’s amazing how everything here blows up except the film stock that held the frames of Gone Fishin’. Sometimes you can’t catch a break.
Remember the alterverse mentioned at the start of this review? Well, imagine when a great version of this brought back Glover and Pesci for a commentary, while they reminisce about a super career choice this was. You have to imagine it because the bonus here is just a trailer, as if the two stars didn’t want to be involved or something.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review because someone secretly hates us. This has not affected the editorial process, we swear. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.