"P.S. I Love You" DVD Review
May 06, 2008 by Zach Demeter
I tend to have a strange view towards the romantic comedy genre. While the majority of them are the same old story retold through various characters that really don’t change much, the premises are always either incredibly sappy or at the very least an enjoyable way to spend some time in front of the TV. You may laugh or cry at the relationships in the film, or you may wish you had nails being driven through your fingers because then that would distract you from the real pain of actually watching the film. But as much as I may balk at the idea of watching a romantic comedy, I find myself oddly amused by them each time and for whatever flaws it may have, P.S. I Love You did fill the screen with humorous characters for its runtime.
P.S. I Love You revolves around Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) Kennedy. While the two bicker and fight, the love they have for one another is of the old fashioned variety where the ones they’re destined to marry are brought together by fate. After the sudden discovery of a brain tumor, Gerry soon departs the world and Holly is sent into weeks of depression as she mourns her lost husband. Once Holly’s 30th birthday arrived, however, Holly began receiving messages from Gerry from beyond the grave—literally. It’s from these letters Holly was able to remember the great things about her relationship with Gerry and finally move on with her life.
Now the films plot is all sugary sweet and the idea of a loved one continually talking to you from beyond the grave is kind of morbid, but still there’s a certain level of sweetness to the whole thing. The film addresses all of these elements of course through the various characters, but from the outset it is an admittedly strange premise to concoct…perhaps it works better as a novel, because the film certainly fell flat in a few places.
The film featured a rather robust cast, ranging from Oscar winners and nominees to actors I honestly haven’t seen in anything except in television shows (James Marsters and Dean Winters, for instance…not that TV actors is a bad thing, I’ve pretty much enjoyed every role they’ve taken over the various shows that they’ve popped up in). Still, it was a rather solid cast, even if some of them were rather miscast, such as Gerard Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing Irishmen with rather forced accents or Holly’s sister played by Nellie McKay who…honestly looks absolutely nothing like Holly or Kathy Bates. I’m not sure what the train of thought in casting her was, unless it was “Oh I love her music!”
One other huge drawback to the film was that it was so slow in spots that it really didn’t warrant the two hour run time. Some films just naturally progress slow, but between the overly long opening and then barreling abruptly into the funeral, it felt rushed and slow all at the same time. We don’t even get to the actual letters-from-beyond-the-grave until well into the first hour of the film and by that point we’re already so tired of seeing Holly continually mope and sing in her dead husband’s clothes that viewing another hour and a half of it seems like it’s going to be some arduous task. Still, once the film gets rolling with the letters it becomes a much speedier story; I really wish they would have left out some the material. While the opening in the film may have worked in the book (I didn’t read it, I just always assume that the book that a film is based on is usually better), it felt unnecessary here as we get so much back story for the relationship in the flashbacks with each of the letters that it feels completely unwarranted. It’s referenced only a few times in the film and honestly, even if it felt out of place at first, starting at the funeral would have been a better stepping point considering the chemistry between Butler and Swanks really isn’t that strong to begin with (and is actually rather awkward to watch at times…it wasn’t Butler’s stripping, I’ve seen more of him in 300).
Perhaps I’m just too big of a James Marsters fan (it’s kind of hard not to be after watching his role in the Buffy and Angel series for months on end as I binge-watched all twelve combined seasons of those two shows), but his role, John McCarthy, felt slightly chopped in the film as well. I thought we’d see him return in some way when Gerry’s message to Holly on the tape tells her to leave him with John…but we actually see John once or twice after that point and that’s it. Also apparently he’s the brother to Gina Gershon’s character, Sharon, in the film but I don’t think it’s ever explicitly said—nor do they really look alike either. What’s with the siblings in this film anyway?
Obviously the story is moving in places, but it tends to fumble around in the dark a bit too much with the sequences in Ireland (yeah, send her to Ireland, Gerry, so she can meet one of your old band members who she ends up getting the hots for…coincidentally, he looks almost exactly like you) and also the scenes between Holly and Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.). Connick’s role in the film is so brief and after pining away for Holly to go out with him or date him, they finally kiss only for Daniel to exclaim “It’s like kissing my sister!” Great. So you either a) kissed your sister previously or b) have had the same kind of feelings for your sister that you had for Holly. What a weird and utterly pointless character that was delivered with Daniel. He served no point other than to tell Holly she talked about her dead husband too much and then after all of his efforts to date her, they throw it away in Yankee stadium, which he somehow randomly has an uncle who works there and lit the entire stadium up just for them. Ok I’m just picking on little things now in the film to complain about, but still.
As I said before, the film has its cute little moments between Holly and Gerry, but the whole two hour affair just isn’t worth sitting through unless you really have an affinity for romantic comedies. If you lopped about half an hour and Daniel’s character out of the movie, perhaps it would have flowed better…but as is, it’s a strict one-time viewing and if you somehow find more to enjoy in this film than I did, then awesome. If you manage that, however, email me and let me know how. Play it safe and keep this one to a Rental.
Damn you, flipper discs! When will you go away!? Yes, P.S. I Love You arrives on the blasted shiny double-sider in a standard single disc amaray case without so much as a slipcover or interior insert. Menus for the film are static and simple to navigate, while the audio and visual portion of the film remains clean and clear. There wasn’t too much use of the rear channels, usually only in the bar sequences where there’s a lot of ambient noise and the video transfer tends to lack detail at times, but overall it’s a decent technical presentation. You don’t exactly look towards the romantic comedy genre to redefine the digital disc format, but what’s here doesn’t harm or mar your viewing of the film in any way (the story does that for you. Just kidding! Kind of).
Moving onto the extras we have a “A Conversation with Cecelia Ahern” featurette (7:27) which consists of cast and crew interviews and is really all we get in terms of what it was like to actually make the film. Standard studio fluff here, nothing exciting. Moving onto the deleted scenes (oh crap they actually trimmed stuff out of the film?!), we get five sequences that actually…aren’t too bad. While a few are the standard character removal shots from the film, we do see Gerry actually booking the trip for Holly to Ireland. It might have made the travel agents teary reception to Holly a bit more meaningful…well, maybe not, Gerry fakes death twice in it which I found hilarious. The whole premise of the film is slightly morbid and I really could’ve used more humor in it to mix it up a bit…the only real laughs came from Gerry’s letters and what he did with Holly when he was alive.
Finally we have…”The Name of the Game is Snaps.” Oh this may sound entertaining since you have no idea what the hell those scenes in the film are about, but this instructional video, lasting near five minutes is done in an old-1960’s training video style complete with scratchy video and audio. Why? Well, why not!? After all this game still makes little sense, as its sole purpose seems to confuse the hell out of those around you. The game was funnier when I didn’t know what it was.
And that wraps up the disc. I certainly complained a hell of a lot more than I probably should have for this film. It honestly wasn’t that bad but when you start to think about it logically it just starts to unspool and become a giant mess at your feet. I had the option of glossing over the oddities or actually try to make sense of it, but I just ended up with what, in my mind, looks like a pile of tangled Christmas lights. Except half of the pile isn’t lit, kind of like how half of this movie isn’t entertaining. I’ll stop with the strange comparisons now. Like the movie, this DVD’s a strict Rental only.
P.S. I Love You is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.