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Case Number 00211

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Poison Ivy

New Line // 1992 // 92 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // December 11th, 1999

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All Rise...

The Charge

Lolita with an Oedipus complex.

Opening Statement

Drew Barrymore (Ever After, Home Fries, The Wedding Singer) stars as a sexy young thing who works her way into the life and home of friend Sylvie Cooper, played by Sara Gilbert (TV's Roseanne, Dead Beat). She gains the trust of both the father and mother, while showing a free-spirited lifestyle to Coop and the rest. Apparently a home and people who care are not enough, and in this extra-lite disc from New Line revives the first of a few Ivy films in a new format.

The Evidence

Drew Barrymore looks cute and sexy all through this movie, and looks like she wouldn't hurt a fly, which of course we know not to be true. From the beginning she shows her ability to do violent acts when she clubs a wounded dog hit by a car to death without a moment's hesitation. She goes on to deliver on the plot, which is to be a Lolita to the TV station manager father, Tom Skerritt (M*A*S*H, Alien, Top Gun), to replace the ailing mother Cheryl Ladd (TV's Charlie's Angels, Millennium, Lookalike), and to also become the favorite between herself and Sylvie. She is alternately caring, wise beyond her years, seductive, and insane. To be charitable, she pulls this off. Barely. Sara Gilbert is far more interesting and puts in a better performance, with the parents only being mildly believable. Not one of Skerritt's best performances, though I am a big fan of his other work. Ultimately only Sylvie has a chance to figure all this out, though once blatantly hit with it the father does as well by the end. This was just in time for what to me was a highly unsatisfying ending.

While this disc from New Line's less-than-platinum collection doesn't have much in the way of extras, merely the theatrical trailer and cast and director bios and filmography, it does have one feature that many people clamor for, though not so many critics. The disc contains both anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 ratio and full frame versions of the movie on it, and in R rated and Unrated versions as well. Video was fine, nothing spectacular. No noticeable problems, though a little grain was seen here and there, but nothing that really effected the enjoyment. Audio was better, having both a 5.1 Dolby Digital track and a Dolby 2.0 surround track, which made decent if subtle use of surrounds. There may have been one or two spots in the movie to kick on your subwoofer.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

While the unrated version does add four minutes to the film, even with the added scenes this was very tame compared to many R rated movies today. There isn't one bare breast visible, though you get the dubious pleasure of seeing Tom Skerritt's butt from a distance. Poison Ivy also resides in the snapper case, which many hate.

Closing Statement

In 1992 this movie was a bit titillating for those who really like Drew Barrymore, and I do. If you really like Sara Gilbert this is a good rental, and if you're a fan of the Ivy oeuvre then of course you will probably buy it anyway. The director Katt Shea (The Rage: Carrie 2) tries to be Hitchcock but doesn't hit the mark in this rather forgettable film. New Line needs to stick to its Platinum series, they are inexpensive enough to negate the need for a budget line, and to me the addition of full frame version of the movie do not make up for lack of extras.

The Verdict

Poison Ivy needs a good spanking and needs to learn what an extra unrated version of a titillation movie is supposed to give. We'll be taking a look at the sequels and see if they learned from this one. New Line is sentenced to producing more fine Platinum Editions, which will be the only releases from them I buy.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 75
Audio: 80
Extras: 45
Acting: 50
Story: 50
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: New Line
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Unrated
• Bad
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Two Cuts of the Movie (Unrated & R-Rated)
• Cast and Crew Bios
• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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