Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dear Eleanor DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
From director Kevin Connolly (Entourage) comes the heartwarming coming-of-age adventure with an all-star ensemble cast, Dear Eleanor, debuting on digital and DVD July 5 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Set in 1962, the film stars Liana Liberato (If I Stay) and Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games) as two teen-age friends who set out on a cross-country road trip to meet their heroine, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. On their inspiring journey, Ellie and Max encounter an entertaining mix of characters, including a glamorous showgirl played by Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four), a mysterious ex-con played by Josh Lucas (TV’s “The Mysteries of Laura”) and a handsome cowboy played by Patrick Schwarzenegger (Grown Ups 2). The film also stars Luke Wilson (Concussion, Old School) and Joel Courtney (Super 8).
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Ellie and Max are “once in a lifetime friends” living in California’s Central Valley in 1962. After Ellie’s mother dies on the way to present a speech to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Ellie’s father falls into a depression and it’s left to Ellie to take care of her siblings. Max wants to do something nice for her best friend so she writes a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt. When she receives a response (written by Billy, the boy who has a crush on her), the two girls take off on a cross-country adventure in order for Ellie to deliver the speech her mother never got to give.
On this adventure, the girls inadvertently take a detour and end up in Colorado, where they were invited to stay with a family until the threat from the Cuban Missile Crisis is over. Pushed to call their parents, the girls avoid telling the family, whose son, Bud, develops a crush on Ellie. When Ellie hears the parents talking and planning to call the police, she rouses Max and they high tail it out of there and get back on the road. However, a man Ellie saw in the market is in the backseat of their car. The man, Frank, is an escaped convict from Alcatraz, and he joins them on their trip. The girls reluctantly allow him to come along and stop in New Mexico to visit Max’s aunt. They convince her to join their trip to New York and the four of the travel across the country together all while trying to stay ahead of Ellie’s father and Billy, who are hot on their tails.
A teenage version of Thelma and Louise, Dear Eleanor is a fun movie about two girls on a mission to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. The girls are adorable and their friendship is so believable. Josh Lucas is always great in his roles and always so handsome. I really enjoyed Luke Wilson as Ellie’s father, Bob. He was great as a man mourning the loss of his wife and going through a depression. I’m not usually a big fan of Jessica Alba, but I liked her as Aunt Daisy. Director Kevin Connolly did a good job with the cast and with bringing the story to life. His decisions on what each character should be doing and how they delivered their lines kept the flow of the movie consistent.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation of Dear Eleanor is good. The picture is clear and the colors are appropriate for the 1960s. The only issue I had was during a few of the driving screens, it was pretty obvious that they were in front of a screen. However, in the rest of the movie, the picture flowed nicely and there were no other issues.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Dear Eleanor’s English audio is good. While nothing spectacular, the volume level is even and good. There were no issues with the sound and I could hear all the dialogue. The soundtrack – both the background audio and the music was good.  Audio is also in French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Subtitles in English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai are available as well.
Extras (1 out of 5 stars)
The only special features included on the disc were two commentaries – one with Director Kevin Connolly, and the other with writers Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia. While both gave some insight into the movie, the story and the characters, I thought there could have been so much more. Perhaps a background on Eleanor Roosevelt’s life. That would have been really interesting.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Connolly
  • Audio Commentary with Writers Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia
  • Previews
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Dear Eleanor is a sweet movie. It held my attention and kept me engaged. I liked seeing the girls drive across the country and have a once in a lifetime adventure. To me, someone born in the 80s, the 1960s were a time when life was more innocent and free. Dear Eleanor is a keeper and I will be sure to keep it on the shelf and watch it again.

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