Sony // 1995 // 127 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 4th, 2002
Love has no price tag.
Many film lovers remember and cherish writer/director Billy Wilder's original Sabrina. Starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, and Audrey Hepburn, the original 1954 version is considered a great romantic comedy. Like many other great old Hollywood films, new Hollywood felt the need to do an update on Wilder's classic, this time directed by Sidney Pollack (Tootsie) and starring Harrison Ford (Six Days, Seven Nights) in the Bogart role, Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets) in the Holden role, and Julia Ormond (Legends Of The Fall) in the Hepburn role. Also starring the late Nancy Marchand (The Sopranos) and Richard Crenna (Rambo: First Blood Part II), Sabrina sweeps you off your feet on DVD care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Filthy rich Linus Larabee (Ford) is one of the busiest tycoons around. Endlessly working and striving for excellence in the workplace, Linus provides well for his younger brother David (Kinnear), a swinging bachelor who seems to have a new girlfriend every other weekend. While David enjoys the prospects of playing the field, Linus toils endlessly at work, often being referred to as "the world's only living heart donor." When David suddenly becomes engaged to a one of Linus' prospective client's daughter (Holly), things start to fall into place for the Larabee's...until Sabrina Fairchild (Ormond) walks into their lives! The mousy daughter of David Larabee's chauffeur, Sabrina hides an unbridled love for David. When she leaves fro Paris to "find herself" (this includes working for Vogue magazine, romancing a sexy photographer, and transforming herself into a ravishing beauty), Sabrina returns home to turn the head of not only David, but Linus as well! When Sabrina's presence threatens to undo David's engagement and Linus' business merger, Linus decides that something must be done. However, what he didn't count out was L-O-V-E!
Everyone that I talked to about this remake of Sabrina seemed to have the same opinion: it sucked compared to the 1954 original. I wish that I could say that I was able to compare the two, but I have unfortunately never seen Wilder's original film. I do think that this version of Sabrina is, while not great, cute and entertaining.
What makes Sabrina work is the comedic chemistry between Kinnear and Ford. This isn't a fall on your fanny laugh fest -- the humor comes subtly and softly. Ford plays a relative grump who has never found time to touch his inner child. Kinnear on the other hand plays a an immature child-like playboy who hasn't got a clue what it's like to be an adult. The dichotomy between these two characters is often funny and interesting. Take the scene where Linus employs David to have a seat -- full well knowing that two champagne glasses are resting in his back pockets. Ford and Kinnear's witty banter is endlessly enjoyable. When Linus tells David that he makes David's philandering lifestyle possible with his work and money, David retorts with "I resent that!" "So do I," shoots back Linus. The film is filled with humorous dialogue that is often sweet without being saccharine. Julia Ormond, trying her hardest to replace visions of Audrey Hepburn, is adorable as Linus and David's love interest Sabrina. I think that some people thought she played her role too weepy and cutesy. Personally, I found Ormond to be just darling -- she is a terrific mix of sexiness, class, and vulnerability. The supporting cast is led by the wonderful Nancy Marchand, who plays the Larabee patriarch. Somewhat batty yet stern, Marchand gives a wonderful performance along with Richard Crenna as David's soon-to-be father-in-law.
However, I can see how some people were turned off by this film. While the mood is often romantic, the characters don't always display the depth needed to produce a great romantic comedy. Ford's Linus is often chilly -- too chilly -- and at times I was a bit baffled as to why Sabrina was falling in love with him. The story sometimes prattles on a bit too long, and the ending seems almost tacked on and contrived.
Those complaints aside, I do think that this is a movie that is well worth seeing. Ford, Kinnear, and Ormond are all very good in the roles, and Sydney Pollack's direction is even and sure handed. Recommended for those in the mood for a little romance.
Sabrina is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Paramount has done a very fine job at making sure that all aspects of this transfer are clear of any major defects or imperfections. The colors and black levels are all very solid and even with only the slightest amount of edge enhancement showing up. Overall this is a very nice looking picture.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, though in actuality this soundtrack feels more like a 2.0 mix than 5.1. The bulk of this soundtrack is filtered out of the center and front speakers without much channel separation. Some of John Williams' lush music is brought to the rear speakers, though ultimately this is a very unexciting mix. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music are free of any distortion or hiss. Also included on this disc are English subtitles and a French stereo soundtrack.
The only extra feature available on Sabrina is a theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen.
I was pleasantly surprised by this version of Sabrina. Maybe when I see the original film I will feel less inclined to pour on the accolades. Until then, I think that this is a warm and fuzzy movie to snuggle with to with the one you love. And that Julia Ormond, she sure is easy on the eyes, eh fellas?
I may get hate mail from oldies fans for saying this, but Sabrina is free to go. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2002 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer