Anchor Bay // 1986 // 177 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 23rd, 2003
Only he can see it.
Only he shares its magic.
Only he knows the danger.
When little Joey's (Joshua Morrell) father passes away unexpectedly, the nine-year old boy and his mother are suddenly left without a father or husband. As the days pass, Joey begins acting a bit strange. At the breakfast table, he's able to slide his glass of milk across the table without the use of his hands. In his bedroom, Joey's been chatting on a toy telephone with his deceased pop. And inside of Joey's closet lurks a batch of toys that are able to walk and talk on their own. The most sinister of these is a ventriloquist dummy Joey found in an old abandoned house. The dummy seems hell bent on making Joey's life difficult, including (but not limited to) opening the gateway to another world through Joey's bedroom closet (and to think, all I got out of my closet as a kid was "Hungry Hungry Hippos"). The dummy seems to share Joey's supernatural gifts, but in a much darker fashion. Joey's mother and school teacher are baffled by his newfound telekinetic powers, but Joey senses that something is not right in the universe, and under the cloud of darkness a fight between good and evil will ensue.
So, you want proof that there is a God? Here it is: director Roland Emmerich wrote and directed Making Contact, and he was still given the opportunity to churn out the mega hit Independence Day. How's that for divine intervention? By all accounts, Emmerich should not have been allowed near a camera after this plagiaristic mess. Originally titled Joey in Emmrich's native Germany, Making Contact is a meshing of all things cinematically supernatural, and ends up being a pale shadow of previous Hollywood hits. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Poltergeist, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are just a few of the films this dud rips off. [Editor's Note: Hmm...Spielberg? Check. Spielberg? Check. Spielberg? Check. I detect a pattern.] The problems that plague Making Contact are many, not the least of which is the horrid dubbing over the actors' voices. In fact, I'd talk at length about the actors if there was anything to talk about -- every single one comes off as strange and one-dimensional due to the chintzy voice over work provided by lesser talent. Many of the special effects look dated and chintzy, especially when one of Joey's stuffed animals rides a TV set around the room. Emmerich's screenplay is so inane and unoriginal that it borders on offensive -- not one scene in this film smarts of originality. Elements from The Goonies, Labyrinth , and other '80s movies abound, and when the story isn't ripping off better films, Making Contact halts to a complete standstill. By the time the story's climactic battle between the forces of good and evil arrived, I was more than ready for this flick to be over. I didn't care if Joey lived, died, or spontaneously combusted -- I was ready to call it a day. I realize that this is one of those "cult" flicks from the 1980s that many people probably adore -- for you, this DVD is a dream come true. For the rest of us, this is forgettable entertainment that's not so entertaining. Maybe a more apt title for this film is Making Doggie Doo-Doo.
The second disc on this set includes the German version of the film, Joey. There's also an extra 20 minutes worth of footage on this version, though from what I saw it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I will be honest in saying I didn't watch Joey all the way through. The English version was plenty filling -- I didn't feel the need to watch an even longer version in German with even worse dubs than the US release.
Making Contact and its counterpart Joey are both is presented in their original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratios with anamorphic enhancement. Well, once again Anchor Bay has raided their vaults and come up with another stellar video transfer. With solid black levels and bright colors, both images appear to be in very good shape. Though there are some imperfections due to the film's age and budget (some softness in the image, as well as some grain), overall fans will be very happy with both of these transfers. The soundtracks are presented in newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mixes, as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, all available in both English and German. The new 5.1 mix is only so-so with effects and music popping in from time to time. While it's certainly a step up form the 2.0 mix, it's nothing overly exciting. Most aspects of the mix are free of excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on Joey is optional English subtitles.
Considering that this edition of Making Contact is a two-disc set, I was a slightly surprised to find little in the way of extra features. The only supplements included on this set included two theatrical trailers for the English release, and a single trailer for the German version Joey.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (German)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (German)
* English (on Joey only)
Running Time: 177 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Three Theatrical Trailers