STUDIO: Touchstone
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 113 min.
SPECIAL FEATURES: What features?

The Pitch

5.8 out of 10

Their eyes may have been watching but God turned the channel.“

The Humans

Halle Berry, Michael Ealy, Terrence Howard, Ruby Dee, Nicki Micheaux, Lorraine Toussaint, Ruben Santiago-Hudson

The Nutshell

Their eyes were watching God is an adaptation of the 1937 novel by Zora Neale Hurston. The story is set in the 1920’s in southern Florida and tells the story of Janie Crawford (Halle Berry.) Janie is raised by her Nanny (Ruby Dee) who is anxious to get her married off to the first man who shows an interest in such a thing. Janie is not your typical southern black woman in that she defies what others in town deem is the proper way for a woman to act. In fact, most of the other women look upon Janie as a snob and as her life progresses we see her go through two loveless marriages until she falls in love with a younger man, Tea Cake (Michael Ealy.) Janie has found her true soulmate but an unfortunate accident finds her in a predicament that ultimately takes her life down yet another road. As Janie says at the beginning, They’ve got to find out about love and they’ve got to find out about living. She finds out both.

Halle’s mom gives her review of Catwoman.

The Package

Presented in fullscreen format, 1:33:1 ratio, Dolby digitial 5.1 (standard TV formats) and the transfer is beautiful. There are no extras on this set with the exception of Oprah Winfrey talking at the beginning about how the book inspired her to produce this movie.

Thankfully the filmmakers were able to convey the sexiness viewers were hoping for.

The Lowdown

Without knowing anything about the book I believe many people will find this movie a wonderful love story. On the other hand I read the book and found the adaptation lacking on specific key qualities which made the book such a classic. Even though it is common practice for filmmakers to take creative license with the source material I was disappointed to see them omit some key elements.

For some reason they decided to focus just on Janie’s romantic relationships and leave out the community spirit and togetherness that Janie was so desparately seeking. Sure she was looking for love but she also needed to feel a part of a community that never seemed to accept her for various reasons. In the book the community is covered in detail and yet in the film we are just given a tiny snapshot of the surroundings.

Then there is the romance between Janie and Tea Cake and although the actors give solid performances they do not match the description in the book. The movie covers a 20 year span of Janie’s life and she does not age nor shows any signs of a woman who has been abused and lived a hard life. In fact the book covers the highly emotional and tragic relationship between Janie and Tea Cake with emphasis on the fact that she was much older than him and yet in the movie they look and behave as though they were high school sweethearts. Janie is supposed to be emotionally stronger as well and yet her demeanor is that of a naive girl.

As you can tell, I had difficulty separating the movie from the book and in some instances (The Color Purple, Presumed Innocent, Roots) I can overcome this obstacle. In the case of this movie I cannot as I was not drawn in at all emotionally. Also, any movie that relegates Terrence Howard to a five-minute role deserves a reduction in rating points.