New Line // 1996 // 88 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Rob "Treg" Traegler (Retired) // September 21st, 1999
Fall in love for the first time, or all over again.
These two main characters both have such emotionally troubled backgrounds that this film should have been called "Bed of Baggage." Only true fans of Christian Slater and Mary Stuart Masterson will be able to swallow this heavy dose of syrup from the folks at New Line who, nonetheless have produced another seamless DVD transfer.
Two solid and likable actors from the '80s try one more time at lasting celebrity in the 1996 film Bed of Roses, a drama without credibility and a romance without chemistry. New Line, a fairly new studio compared to the dinosaurs, has a limited catalog to offer, so while we get gems like Blade and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, the studio, in a respectable effort of total DVD support, must offer their lesser known (and seen) titles such as this one. Slater, who has hit hard times since Hard Rain, is remotely likable, but somewhat annoying as Louis, a depressed florist who personally delivers his flowers as a therapeutic remedy for a recent tragedy in his life. Mary Stuart (where the heck did she go?) Masterson of Fried Green Tomatoes fame, co-stars as Lisa, a workaholic banker with little interest in anything but her career and her cardboard boyfriend played by a cardboard cut-out of Josh Brolin (I think he has five lines in the entire film).
The story begins with Lisa receiving a mysterious phone call while away on business. Visibly shaken, Lisa returns home, only to finally let it all out at the window of her New York apartment. Loner street walker Louis looks up and sees her crying and decides to send her flowers. Lisa, intrigued, manages to track down her secret admirer and voila! The romance begins, but not without the obligatory "this could never work out" introductory premise which, of course, develops into the first kiss and so on and so on. Along the way, we are introduced to Lisa's whacky girlfriend, nicely played by then newcomer Pamela Segall who looks like Demi Moore's cute younger sister. We also realize that Lisa and Louis are both quite weird (for lack of a better word) and perhaps this film was intended to work as an allegory professing that, yes, weird people fall in love, too. Little by little, we discover that each main character has a tragic back story embedded in their quirky personalities, which adds depth to the story, but stretches their likability factor to the max. Maybe writer-director Michael Goldenberg was asking his audience to understand that people with screwed-up backgrounds need equally screwed-up mates to survive in this cold world. The sad thing is, I'm getting this message more from my analysis than I did from the movie. You don't need a road map to figure out where this story ends, hell, the DVD cover art tells you this anyway.
There are some severe credibility gaps in the screenplay that caused me to roll my eyes in disbelief. For instance, just as Louis and Lisa's relationship is getting serious, Louis drops a bombshell on her detailing the recent severe tragedy in his life and how it's affected him. I don't want to give the tragedy away, but any normal single female upon hearing this upsetting story would have to go home and decide whether or not they want to get involved with a guy with this much emotional baggage. What does Mary Stuart do? Sleeps with him, on the spot. Strike one! Then the next morning, she wakes up to find he has taken her clothes to the dry cleaners, purchased her a bathrobe, a toothbrush, et cetera. Once again, any normal female would say, "Hold it. Hit the brakes there, slick." What does Mary Stuart do? She thinks he's cute and amazing. Strike two! Suddenly, without even a clarification scene, Lisa has dumped cardboard Josh and is practically moving in with Mr. Bathrobe. Next is an old cinematic trick, there are not one, but three music montages to show the progression, deterioration and re-progression of this bizarre union. Strike three!
Writer-director Michael Goldenberg has a nice credit on his résumé with his adaptation of Contact, which probably played a part in his selling of this film to New Line. Unfortunately, I can't fathom how he got past a pitch meeting with this unusual premise. The DVD box art compares the film to Sleepless in Seattle, but it's not a comedy. Filmed in New York (but it could have been Toronto considering the underuse of a great location), Bed of Roses never really draws you in, you can't really care about the characters when their choices and eccentricities are so off-the-wall. Masterson and Slater do their best with the material, I'm just surprised that Masterson supported some of her character's single gal choices without a debate with the director. Initially, Louis looks and acts somewhat serial killer-ish, but Lisa is taken in by him anyway, no questions asked. I've liked both of these actors in other films, but here they seem lost, searching for a handle on their roles as well as each other. The entire supporting cast (except Segall) is reduced to two and three line walk-ons, leaving the two leads to carry this heavy material. Oops, they dropped it.
The anamorphic video transfer is typical New Line, superb. The picture is sharp and clean, with vibrant colors and no shimmering from digital enhancement. Flesh tones are uneven at times, which could be a result of lighting choices by the cinematographer. There is no evidence of scratches or dirt in the transfer and the establishing shots of New York make one feel as if they are looking out the window of a high rise.
The Dolby 5.1 surround sound audio track is top notch, but mostly you will hear Michael Convertino's moody incidental music and occasional city effects. Because Bed of Roses is not an action flick, there are not a lot of opportunities for channel effects, unless you want to hear someone delivering flowers in crystal clear 5.1 surround.
This disc does include the music video for Jan Arden's "Insensitive," a theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, and boasts a top-notch transfer.
Even fans of this film may have a hard time with a purchase of this disc, as the subject matter does not warrant repeat viewing or, for that matter, high quality video and audio. Tape it off of HBO.
Loved the transfer, had a tough time getting comfortable in this Bed of Roses.
Review content copyright © 1999 Rob "Treg" Traegler; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer
* Talent Bios