STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $19.97 RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 111 Minutes
Commentary by director Bud Yorkin, Amy Madigan and Ann-Margret

I often find that the unremarkable film is the hardest type of film to watch. A good film is obviously a lot of fun to watch, and a bad film can be just as fun if you choose to revel in just how awful it is. But what do you do with an unremarkable film? What do you do with a film that is never really compelling enough to draw you in but is well made and can’t really be classified as “bad?” Do you just sit there and take it in, only to forget it immediately after?

That seems to be the most common course of action with an unremarkable film, as the world is littered with films that time has simply forgotten. Twice In A Lifetime is one of these forgotten films from the ‘80s. It stars Gene Hackman and Amy Madigan, who got an Academy Award nomination for it, but it is forgotten all the same. It may be an unremarkable film, but perhaps this DVD release will please a select group of people who managed to feel a deeper connection to it than the rest of the world did.

Women who are pregnant or have high blood pressure should not partake in the high octane excitment of Bingo Nite.

The Flick

Twice In A Lifetime is a character piece about divorce. Gene Hackman stars as Harry Mackenzie, a blue collar steel mill worker in Seattle. His kids are all grown up and his marriage has lost any real sense of passion or meaning. His monotonous coast through life is interrupted when he meets a woman on his fiftieth birthday that makes him feel happy again. After thirty years of marriage with his faithful wife, Harry has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance to be happy with a new woman even if it will cause his family considerable pain.

In a character piece like this, the supporting cast is often more important than the starring one. The majority of the film is about the reactions of Harry’s family and friends to his abrupt decision. Amy Madigan and Ally Sheedy play Harry’s two daughters who have different reactions to the divorce. One is incensed by the decision and seems hell bent on either reuniting the family or ostracizing Harry completely, while the other understands and only wishes happiness for her father.

This one is for all the ladies reading this review. All zero of them.

The two women in Harry’s life are played by Ellen Burstyn and Ann-Margret. Burstyn plays Harry’s wife, Kate Mackenzie. She does an excellent job at portraying the character’s slow change from a bored housewife who only cares about making others happy to a woman who decides to finally make herself happy for once. Margret plays the new love of Harry’s life, and it’s to the film’s credit that she isn’t portrayed negatively in the slightest. This isn’t a Lifetime movie where the husband and his new flame are automatically evil and only out to destroy the housewife. They are real characters and while their actions might be considered somewhat selfish, the characters deserve happiness and it’s hard for a viewer to begrudge them that indulgence.

At its core, Twice In A Lifetime is about starting over at an old age and choosing happiness over stability. There are no easy answers in a situation like this one, and the lasting repercussions of a divorce can’t be wrapped up in 111 minutes. The film concerns itself with how people deal with the tight bonds of family being broken and how life goes on. There’s no real resolution or statement on who is right or wrong, it’s just a film about life that is carried by the excellent performances of the actors involved. It’s a well made film that is enjoyable to watch, but ultimately one that you will be hard pressed to remember a week later.

5.0 out of 10

He wants the ball and he’s going to score.

The Look

Viewers are in for a special treat as the WB has modified the film from its original version and formatted it to fit your screen! Aren’t you just delighted? In addition to the full screen transfer, the video is also full of tons of grain and artifacts that get progressively worse as the movie goes along. This is probably the same full screen transfer used on the laserdisc version of the film. I wasn’t expecting a stellar transfer on such an unknown film, but WB has delivered great video on equally unknown titles before.

3.5 out of 10

Over The Top 2: Back To The Minors lacked the same excitement of the original.

The Noise

Twice In A Lifetime is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. With a lack of any memorable music (with the exception of a Paul McCartney song in the credits) or other noteworthy sounds, the only thing a film like this requires is that the actor’s lines be easily heard and understood. They are. Mission accomplished.

7.0 out of 10

"Oh, wow. An officially liscensed Tucker Carlson replica bowtie. Thanks honey!"

The Goodies

The only extra is a commentary track with the director and two of the actresses. Amy Madigan was chosen to be on the commentary track most likely because she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. The other actor on the track is Ann-Margret, who plays the new love interest for Harry. I would have liked to hear Ellen Burstyn’s comments on this track as she plays Harry’s wife and had a much more demanding role.

As this is a character piece, the majority of the commentary is on the challenges that the actors had to go through and what they wanted to portray in their performances. The director occasionally talks about his own experiences with divorce and the difficulty he had in finding any studios to finance this picture. On the plus side, he does logically assume that anyone listening to the track has already seen the picture and therefore he keeps the recapping to a minimum and has no reservations on talking about things before they happen in the movie.

4.0 out of 10

Sometimes, Gene Hackman is simply overcome with shame over Superman IV and bursts into tears.

The Artwork

The cover uses the standard artwork that has been used for all home releases of Twice In A Lifetime, but with its own amazing twist! Whereas the VHS and Laserdisc covers had the floating portraits at the bottom and the wedding picture on the top, the DVD release reverses them and puts the floating portraits at the top! This is a pretty radical departure and I have to give it up the WB for having the guts to do it.

5.0 out of 10

Overall: 5.0 out of 10