War of the Roses Blu-ray Review
A good horror movie has the ability to find something you’re afraid of (the dark, spiders, ghosts, etc.) and then exploit it. They harness that fear of a particular thing and then build a movie around it, making you uncomfortable and anxious the entire time. But people aren’t just afraid of things, people are also afraid of ideas and the most common of those is the idea of commitment. Warren Adler (who wrote the novel the movie is based on) and Michael Leeson (the screenwriter) knew this when they wrote WAR OF THE ROSES. Marriage can be scary, especially when things don’t work out.
The film follows the plight of Oliver and Barbara Rose, played to perfection by Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. We pick up with them when they’re young and excited about the world, but focus on them when they come to the realization that they don’t want to be together anymore. By then, Oliver is a successful lawyer and Barbara is the dutiful wife but growing increasingly unhappy with her life. Once they decide to part ways, the hatred starts to bubble up and they both refuse to leave the house, forcing each one to take things a little further to hurt the other. The film turns into a battle between Oliver and Barbara, with each one trying to up the other. Although WAR OF THE ROSES is an exaggerated look at love and divorce, I’m sure we all have stories where two people that once loved each other began hating one another over time.
The film is definitely a comedy, but it has such a serious and somewhat depressing undertone that it constantly fights itself. Director Danny DeVito does a fine job of balancing the characters and avoids making either of them the victim. We understand why Barbara wants out of the marriage and we understand why Oliver wants to work things out. That understanding helps to justify the crazy lengths the two characters go through to keep what they perceive to be theirs. It also helps that with each swing they take at each other, the humor element escalates.
This is made possible by the great onscreen chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. This marked the third time Douglas, Turner and DeVito appeared onscreen together and their familiarity with one another served them well. Personally, I point to this as Kathleen Turner’s best performance and watching her say “woof” after serving dinner to Michael Douglas is priceless and possibly the funniest moment in the film. A movie like this needed a leading couple with great chemistry and DeVito was wise to reunite with his JEWEL OF THE NILE buddies.
WAR OF THE ROSES is a hilarious film that goes over the top when telling the divorce story of a once loving couple. Although it has some conflicting tones, the film is done so well and the chemistry between Douglas and Turner is so poignant that WAR OF THE ROSES manages to entertain throughout. Any prospective newlyweds or any couple considering divorce should pick this up and make a vow never to let things get this bad.
Video: WAR OF THE ROSES has never looked as good as it does on this signature edition Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio is also fine.
Commentary with Danny DeVito: This was a fun commentary to watch because Danny DeVito is SO proud of this film and has so much information to offer. If you are a fan of the movie then you have to make time to sit down and watch this.
Revisiting “The War of the Roses” (28:54): This is a featurette with Danny DeVito and producer James L. Brooks where they talk about all the aspects of the film. There is a lot of crossover from the commentary, but these guys are fun to watch so if you want to skip the commentary then take a look at this.
The Music of “The War of the Roses” (9:12): A featurette with Danny DeVito and composer David Newman with discussions about the music from the film.
Deleted Scenes Montage (23:22): A montage of deleted scenes that starts and finishes with Danny DeVito discussing what you’re watching. These were fun to watch and since it’s only twenty minutes its worth checking out.
Script dated 3/16/89