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Exit to Eden on DVD

Garry Marshall crafts what's billed as an erotic comedy but which ends up being a bit of a mishmash as well in "Exit to Eden."

Ostensibly based on an Ann Rice novel, the story follows a team of undercover cops (Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O'Donnell) who head to Eden - a lush tropical island where S&M is the order of the day - in pursuit of a photojournalist (Paul Mercurio) who's the target of jewel thieves he's unwittingly photographed.

The island is a leather-clad den of sexuality, a combination spa and head farm where one lives out one's sexual fantasies (within reason, we assume). The place is run by the lovely Dana Delany, who gets the hots for Elliot the photojournalist (Mercurio), who returns the passion in a couple of very sexy scenes.

Meanwhile, we have Detectives Fred Lavery (Aykroyd) and Sheila Kingston (O'Donnell) playing fish out of water in the sexual playground in which they find themselves.

Exit to Eden feels like two movies. There's the "sexually liberated" romance between Delany and Mercurio, and the "buddy cop" comedy of Aykroyd and O'Donnell. And the twain never really meet, except superficially when the characters happen to come across each other.

Still, it's an interesting enough (though more than a tad weird) story and the performances are good. Delany is the best thing about this movie (for guys, anyway; we suspect Mercurio will be the best thing for the girls); she brings a sense of grace and class to what would otherwise be nothing more than a big orgy with some cop scenes thrown in.

The DVD is a disappointment, however. Rather than being released in widescreen, especially anamorphic widescreen, HBO has unleashed a Pan&Scan version and that's a shame. It means the edges of the original picture are cut off, and owners of widescreen TV's will have to stretch the picture to fill their televisions. This leaves everybody looking a little short and fat which, while maybe more true to real life, isn't how these actors looked at the time nor is it the director's vision of the film.

Other than that the picture quality's fine, but we can't get around the omission of widescreen, which should be standard operating procedure by now.

The audio is Dolby Surround and it's fine, though there's nothing spectacular about it.

HBO does a little better with the extras. Though they're generally short and fairly superficial, you get a "making of" featurette, interviews, cast/crew bios, a behind the scenes montage, and TV spots.

In all, a flawed but interesting movie, but a really flawed DVD.

Exit to Eden, from HBO Home Video
113 min, Pan&Scan (not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Surround
Starring Dan Aykroyd, Dana Delany, Paul Mercurio, Rosie O'Donnell
Produced by Alexandra Rose and Garry Marshall
Written by Deborah Amelon and Bob Brunner, Directed by Garry Marshall.


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Updated May 13, 2006