Blu-ray Review: The Big Chill

STUDIO: Criterion | DIRECTOR: Lawrence Kasdan | CAST: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 7/29/2014 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.95
BONUSES: new interview with Lawrence Kasdan, 1998 making-of featurette, 2013 cast and crew reunion at Toronto International Film Festival, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 106 min. | Comedy drama |1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/monaural | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video | Overall


Though Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill has been coming under fire from the too-hip film crowd for years (or at least since Jack Black ripped it open in 2000’s High Fidelity), I still stand by the 1983 comedy-drama as a funny, timely, well-written and strongly-acted film. So there.

The Big Chill movie scene

A group of reunited college friends hear it through the grapevine in The Big Chill.

Issued in a handful of digital iterations over the years, the film has finally made its Blu-ray debut in Criterion’s just-released Blu-ray/DVD Combo edition.

Benefiting the most from Criterion’s high-definition reconfiguration is the film’s irresistible soundtrack, which is presented here in both its original mono mix and as a re-engineered DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Both versions are very clean, with the 5.1 mix offering a bit more depth and separation.

All the supplemental features that appeared on Sony’s 15th Anniversary DVD from 1999 are here, including an hour-long retrospective film by Laurent Bouzereau, ten minutes of deleted scenes and the original theatrical trailer. Newly produced bonuses include a recent 13-minute interview with director/co-writer Kasdan, who talks about working for a studio circa 1983 and how he’s a lover of ensemble films taking place in a country home a la Renoir’s The Rules of the Game. Also included is a 30-year reunion Q&A from the  2013 Toronto International Film Festival, which features onstage hob-knobbing between Kasdan, co-writer Barbara Benedek and co-stars Tom Berenger (Inception), Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Kevin Kline (Queen to Play), Mary Kay Place (Being John Malkovich), Meg Tilly (Agnes of God), and JoBeth Williams (Timer).

Finally, there’s colorful 22-page booklet that includes an article by Harlan Jacobson from a 1983 issue of Film Comment and, better, “These Are Your Parents,” a new essay by Lena Dunham (TV’s Girls) which confirms the influence that Kasdan’s kvetching baby boomers had on the generations that proceeded them.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.