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Once Upon A Crime

    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Once Upon A Crime

    Released By: 88 Films
    Released On: December 5, 2016.
    Director: Eugene Levy
    Cast: John Candy, James Belushi, Cybill Shepherd, Sean Young, Richard Lewis
    Year: 1992

    The Movie:

    *Note: This is a Region B Blu-Ray

    Phoebe (Sean Young), a young woman ditched by her boyfriend, and Julian (Richard Lewis), an unemployed actor with dreams of being the next Al Pacino, are two Americans who meet in Rome by chance over an unlikely bond; a lost dachshund named Napoloeon who is worth a whole lot of reward money to his worried owner, Madam Van Dougan. Their plans to join forces and return Napoleon to his home in Monte Carlo is slightly derailed when Julian sells the dog to fellow train passenger and reformed gambling addict Augie Morosco (John Candy), but Phoebe's resolve wins the dog back and the two continue on.

    Things seem to be well in order and going well when the unlikely couple arrive at Madam Van Dougan's stately manor, until they discover that Madam Van Dougan is Madam Van Deceased, the victim of obvious foul play. Before they can flee from the scene of the crime, Julian encounters the murderer...or rather, his unique footwear and staring eyes...hiding in the bushes, and becomes very worried indeed that the killer will do him in as well. Making a successful getaway, Julian then becomes concerned that a suitcase left at the scene of the crime will tie him and Phoebe to the murder, but a quick trip back to the crime scene reveals a heavy police presence led by Inspector Bonnard (Giancarlo Giannini) and the suitcase mysteriously absent.

    Unbeknownst (how I hate that word) to Julian and Phoebe, the elusive suitcase has come into the possession of Neil and Marilyn Schwary (James Belushi and Cybill Shepherd), a couple from Newark who are in Monte Carlo for the sole purpose of beating the casino and retiring as millionaires. Discovering that the suitcase contains a nasty surprise in the form of a dismembered Madam Van Dougan, the two attempt to flee via train, which puts them squarely on Inspector Bonnard's radar. With so many potential suspects in play, Bonnard is perhaps a little too quick to identify Augie as the mastermind behind a complex caper, but a shaky alibi provided by his adulteress wife may be all it takes to throw the investigation back into disarray.

    If the plot description confuses, it can be blamed solely on the fact that Once Upon A Crime is a confusing film. Not confusing, as in intellectual and thought provoking, more confusing, as in stupid. Yes, Once Upon A Crime is an incredibly stupid movie that bogs itself down in attempting to pay tribute to comedies of a bygone era, stymied by a mostly talented cast who appear to have no idea what to do with the material. It's safe, for the most part, to put the blame solely on the writers of the film, who attempt to link different events together with little success, and also seem to have written parts for specific actors. Unfortunately, this means that regularly strong performers such as Candy and Shepherd are teamed up with atrocious non-talents like James Belushi, bringing the film down hard. Richard Lewis is absolutely useless here, delivering his lines as a standup comedian would; essentially grandstanding in a number of loud almost-asides. The late and very great John Candy can't help but to follow suit, and the rest of the entourage jumps in to mug for the camera.

    Outrageous and unbelievable characters, one, two, and three-liners on every page, lots of eyebrows, hand-waving, and other exaggerated motions, sight gags..."Unfunny" is most likely the best descriptor of this idiocy. This is obviously a Eugene Levy film, and all challenges to that claim can be countered by an attempt to turn every actors performance into a Levy-style presentation, always to no success. Levy's directorial style is pedestrian and the opposite of noteworthy, and it's no surprise that he would never direct a feature film again. The pros of Once Upon a Crime can be counted on two fingers; one, a pretty awesome Dachshund; and two, some decent cinematography when the footage of Monte Carlo shows up. Otherwise, Once Upon a Crime is a waste of time, well worth the negative reviews it has earned.


    Once Upon a Crime comes to Region B Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 AVC-encoded transfer that showcases decent blacks and moderate detail, and lacks any obvious dirt, debris, damage, or other visual artifacts. Though some scenes don't present as well as others, the visual presentation is satisfactory, and outdoor daytime scenes contain a nice array of colours.

    A LPCM 2.0 English audio track handles the soundstage competently, with dialogue remaining clear and consistent, and balanced well with with the score and sound effects. No distortion was evident, and hisses, pops, and crackles were absent.

    No Subtitles are available on this disc, and extra features consist of widescreen and fullscreen trailers for the film, as well as a trailer for The Couch Trip.

    The Final Word:

    Once Upon A Crime is a fairly mediocre comedy that will not appeal to everyone, and a lack of extras don't make this the most attractive of packages. However, fans of the film should be impressed by the upgrade in picture and audio quality over existing DVDs.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

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