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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

'Of Mice and Men' BD: Beautifully Restored Film of Steinbeck Classic

Product Details
Olive Films lives up to its slogan "cinema lives here" regarding the recent Blu-ray release of the 1992 Gary "Lt. Dan" Sinise remake of "Of Mice and Men." The 25-words-or-more synopsis of this film adaptation of the titular John Steinbeck novel is that Depression-era drifter George (whom Sinise plays) hops the rails and otherwise travels from menial job to menial job with the twin goals of keeping his mentally challenged companion Lenny (whom John Malkovich portrays) from not causing more trouble and finding a place where this pair can establish roots.

An initial warning regarding the film is that even thinking about watching it can prompt spells of "tell me about the rabbits, George" and related monologues about carrying for said small furry creatures to the extent of greatly annoying anyone with whom you cohabitate. The same goes regarding references to puppy love.


The incredible Blu-ray enhancements to the gorgeous cinematography of the wide-open rural settings and to the perfect score makes one wonder why this was not one of the first films to come out in this format.

Even folks who are unfamiliar with the "Mice" story and/or the cliches of the movies of the '30s and '40s can predict the ensuing trouble on the first appearances of small but scrappy ranch foreman/heir Curley and bored/lonely/horny "Curley's Wife," whom David Lynch darling Sherilyn Fenn portrays).

On a deeper level, "Mice" is full of the symbolism with a long history of plaguing high school students. The aforementioned bunnies and baby dogs only scratch the surface. This results in "Mice" being both entertaining and thought provoking. However, not having read the book for decades prevents advising slackers who are assigned to read the novel whether they can get away with just watching the film.

Sinise does a good job playing stoic and noble everyman George and does a decent job with Steinbeck passages that include the "other guys" soliloquy and the monologue regarding the dream home that he wants to provide Lenny. His ability to convey those traits comes through particularly strongly in the penultimate scene.

Unfortunately, Malkovich shows that he is more adept at playing evil and/or quirky than mentally challenged. His speech, energy level, and mannerism are not quite right for his character.

Enormous regard for the Ray Walston '60s fantasycom "My Favorite Martian" possibly influences the opinion that Walston shines in his "Mice" role of disabled old-time hanger-on Candy. The stage training of Walston strongly comes through in his portrayal of a man well past his prime who tragically loses his best friend and receives realistic hope for a brighter future within 30 minutes of screen time. Candy additionally plays a pivotal role.

The plethora of special features include a commentary by director Sinise, a "making of" documentary, and the screen test of Fenn.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Mice" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.