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Angels in the Outfield DVD Review

"Angels in the Outfield" (1994) movie poster - click to buy from MovieGoods.com Angels in the Outfield

Theatrical Release: July 15, 1994 / Running Time: 102 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: William Dear

Cast: Danny Glover (George Knox), Brenda Fricker (Maggie Nelson), Tony Danza (Mel Clark), Christopher Lloyd (Al), Ben Johnson (Hank Murphy), Jay O. Sanders (Ranch Wilder), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Roger Bomman), Milton Davis Jr. (J.P.), Taylor Negron (David Montagne), Tony Longo (Triscuitt Messmer), Matthew McConaughey (Ben Williams), Neal McDonough (Whitt Bass), Adrien Brody (Danny Hemmerling), Dermot Mulroney (Mr. Bomman)

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The one Disney film that most people saw in the summer of 1994 was the hugely successful Lion King. However, that same summer, Disney released Angels in the Outfield, a live-action remake of the 1951 film of the same title. This was just a month before the Major League Baseball strike, at a time when films about professional baseball (Little Big League, Major League II, Rookie of the Year) were being released with some frequency.

The "Angels in the Outfield" title logo appears in the clouds.

Unlike the Robin Williams remake of Flubber, this Angels remake works in part because it successfully puts the original story in modern times. The main character, Roger, is a young boy living in an orphanage following his mother's death. Roger (played by a pre-"3rd Rock from the Sun" Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants very much to live with his father and have a real family, and he prays one night for something to happen that will get the California Angels baseball team out of their slump and reunite him with a family. Roger's prayers do not fall on deaf ears, and he soon makes the acquaintance of an angel (played by the energetic Christopher Lloyd) who goes by the name of Al and has come to help Roger and the struggling baseball team.

What helps make this movie work is the personalities; Christopher Lloyd and Danny Glover (as Angels' manager George Knox) bring life to their roles and prevent the film from falling into sappy dramedy. The movie is one of the funnier and more enjoyable live-action family films in recent Disney history.

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1.85:1 Non-anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 23, 2002 / Repriced July 1, 2003
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
(Reduced from $19.99)


Though we might have thought that Disney has come a long way from their early days of releasing non-anamorphic widescreen DVDs, Angels in the Outfield is not enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions. It has been 5 years since the DVD format was launched, and it is undoubtedly disappointing to see Disney still coming up short where every other studio would have given an anamorphic transfer.
With the plethora of pan & scan-only DVDs coming from Disney, I suppose we should be pleased that the movie is at least in its original widescreen aspect ratio. The lack of 16:9 treatment withstanding, this is not a very good video transfer any way you look at it. There are a number of scenes that look blurry, or out-of-focus, grain throughout, and a number of print flaws. For a movie that is not even yet 10 years old, this video transfer falls a great deal short of what it should look like. It seems as if the laserdisc transfer was simply re-hashed, and converted to MPEG-2 video without any attempts to make the visuals look decent.

Despite the back of the package saying there is only a Dolby Surround track, there is indeed a Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this disc. It won't push your audio system to its limits, but this is not demo-quality material here. Some of the baseball scenes with the angels effects make good use of the surrounds, and the audio is not disappointing the way the video quality is.

The school bus pulls up at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium.


Zero. None whatsoever. Not even preview trailers for other movies at the beginning of the disc. Not the very cool theatrical trailer for Angels in the Outfield. No production notes, no cast/crew details, not even an animated menu. What's sad is that had Angels been released to DVD back in 1998, it would have been guaranteed to have at least a few extras, at the very least its theatrical trailer. Disney is wrong in thinking that a trailer or a featurette is not worth the money and effort the put on the disc. Sure, a diehard fan of the movie will buy a barebones disc and be happy to have it on DVD at all. But for the large number of people who would consider buying this DVD with some decent extras to boot, buying such a plain vanilla disc is not a priority when there are so many DVDs which actually do give worthy presentations of their movies, with extras.

Smiles light up the faces of George Knox (Danny Glover), Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and J.P. (Milton Davis Jr.).


Disney is rushing out these catalogue titles, and putting very little effort into presentation. What is disappointing is that Angels in the Outfield would have received the very same non-anamorphic treatment if it came to DVD in the Fall of 1998 when Disney started releasing DVDs. Instead, after a wait of nearly four years, we get a disappointing DVD presentation, with even less extras than it would have gotten back in Disney's early days. There is no valid excuse for the lack of anamorphic enhancement. This DVD is essentially a rehash of the laserdisc, and while the movie is not everyone's cup of tea, there is no reason that Disney couldn't have at least included a few extras or made the movie look nicer. The low retail price of $14.99 is welcome, but no matter how cheaply priced, Angels in the Outfield should have received better DVD treatment.

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Related Reviews:
Angels in the Endzone (1997) | Angels in the Infield (2000)
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Reviewed May 2002.