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The War of the Roses: Special Edition

Michael Douglas, Kathleen Tuner, Danny DeVito, Marianne Sägebrecht. Directed by Danny DeVito. Aspect ratio: 1:85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. 116 minutes. 1989. 20th Century Fox 25392. R. $19.98.

Divorce can be war, and it is just that in this dark, twisted comedy, directed by Danny DeVito. Divorce lawyer Gavin D'Amato (DeVito) begins telling the story of Barbara (Kathleen Turner) and Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas). Oliver, a straitlaced law student, is enchanted with the free-spirited Barbara, a college gymnast. An idyllic romance ensues, and soon we see them married with kids, as Oliver slowly works his way up the corporate ladder. When he reaches the top, Barbara no longer seems to fit into his perfect upper-class world. And by the time the couple can afford a grandiose house, the romance is gone. Wrapped up in his work, Oliver can't see how bored, stifled, and inadequate Barbara feels as she throws herself into creating the perfect familial nest.

When divorce proceedings begin, the house is the point of contention. Oliver earned all the money to buy it, but Barbara sees it as her life's work. Fearing that his leaving the house will constitute concession to Barbara's ownership, Oliver finds a legal loophole that allows him to reside there pending the divorce. The ex-couple divide the house into sections and the battle begins.

The DVD has some fun extras, including a montage of deleted scenes, comically introduced by DeVito. It's rare and refreshing to see deleted scenes from an older film, rather than scenes "deleted" from a newer movie that were intentionally filmed for use on the DVD. Some scenes that made the final cut are here in alternate versions shot from different angles; others never appeared at all, many of them additional acts of war between the feuding couple that are worth a look. There is also DeVito's commentary on various scenes in which he talks about his experiences on the film's set. Other bonuses include computer sketches, storyboards, still galleries, THX optimizer tests, and trailers—which are great for us "hardcore disc maniacs," as DeVito calls us.

Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the transfer is THX-certified and looks very good. Skin tones look natural and the picture is crisp, although there are occasional specks, grain, and scratches throughout.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack is merely adequate. Nevertheless, the dialogue is intelligible, which is an important factor to consider in this dialogue-driven film. This special edition of The War of the Roses is a must-have for any fan of the film, and a maybe-have for fans of the format.

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