Penny Marshall’s high-concept charmer gets the deluxe treatment in this two-disc set. The first features the theatrical release, an extended edition, and commentary from writers Anne Spielberg (Steven’s sister) and Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit). The extra material, over 20 minutes worth, is interesting in and of itself, but the original version remains definitive (one of the deleted scenes features Frances Fischer as Billy’s stressed-out mother). As for the commentary or “audio documentary,” it combines contemporary comments with archival conversation (the duo taped their brainstorming sessions). Since their words are only loosely linked to the visuals, however, a formal documentary approach probably would’ve worked better. Still, it’s amusing to hear them refer to the adult Josh Baskin as the “Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd character.” (Marshall initially had Robert De Niro in mind, with whom she would work in Awakenings.) Of the five featurettes, four concern aspects of the film, like writing and casting, while The Work of Play profiles toy company employees like the one that employs Josh after he hits adulthood.
Jana notes: Side-splittingly funny. Tom Hanks at his youthful best. Great depictions of horrible meetings (spotting them is a job-hazard given the “make meetings better” work that I do). Favorite scene: Piano at FAO Schwartz.
Audience: Family, Teens, Adults.
Rating: Funny. Enjoyable.
Message Take-away: Live with joy. Enjoy the moments and days of youth rather than wishing you were big.
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