Blu-ray Commentary: “Mad Love”

My audio commentary for Mad Love is out now through Kino Lorber’s reissue of the 1995 drama starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O’Donnell. This movie came out as she was rebuilding her career and he was building his.

The premise is pretty simple: Two Seattle high school students — Matt Leland (O’Donnell) and new transfer Casey Roberts (Barrymore) — live across the lake from each other and soon became romantically entangled. But after her parents institutionalize Casey following a manic episode, Matt springs her loose and they go on a road trip to Mexico, hoping to escape their lives and start anew. Unfortunately for Matt, who comes from single-parent home and a lot of responsibility, he bites off more than he can chew. The mental issues bubbling beneath Casey’s warm exterior come to the forefront during their flight south to the border, and he must decide how they will proceed. Directed by Antonia Bird (Ravenous), the Disney-produced film suffered from a lot of studio interference that left it a bit of a mess. But there are still viewers who fondly remember the movie particularly because of the two stars and ’90s rock soundtrack.

The following is review coverage for my commentary work on Mad Love which I will add to as more reviews become available. The first one is a thoughtful and passionate customer review from Amazon in Canada which makes me believe that all the hard work and research that I put into the track was worth it. The latter is a very complimentary tweeted review that I only discovered months later! I appreciate such fan appraisals as much as critics’ thoughts. After all, the former buy the discs. Click on the logo to go to each site directly.

“‘Mad Love’, is a 1995 Touchstone Pictures theatrical film that is finally making its way onto Blu-ray, in 2020. The major highlight of this Blu-ray is the audio commentary by entertainment journalist, & author Bryan Reesman. As a successful author with a history in music, Reesman’s commentary for ‘Mad love’ is well researched, informative & unbiased. A victim of major studio interference ‘Mad Love’ crashed and burned at the box office in 1995, despite the intentions of writer Paula Milne, director Antonia Bird & actress Drew Barrymore.

Reesman states in his commentary that Touchstone Pictures (affiliated with Disney) panicked when religious controversy erupted publicly surrounding the subject matter of director Antonia Bird’s previous film ‘Priest’, which hit theatres while ‘Mad Love’ was in production. Major cuts were made by the studio to Milne’s script & to Bird’s final film before it was released theatrically. Key plot-points about mental illness & teen suicide were heavily softened & watered down, or completely cut from the final film, so the studio could market it as a teen comedy, despite the film neither being a comedy or a teen specific story.

Barrymore’s character’s often manic behaviour throughout the film is easily dismissed as mere depression, when in fact her character suffers from bipolar disorder (which is a completely different thing). Touchstone further wanted to capitalize on the appeal of its young stars Barrymore & Chris O’Donnell so about a half hour of darker subject matter was cut from the final film, which again, hurt any impact the movie might have made of an audience had it been left alone.

Barrymore voiced her unhappiness with the project’s eventual outcome, as did O’Donell, but both actors praised director Antonia Bird for her initial vision, while both agreed the final film bore little resemblance to the initial project they had both signed on to do. The movie’s trailer offers many glimpses into footage that was cut from the final picture. I wonder just how much of this film was trimmed away in the final cut. Maybe there’s a whole other film out there in an archive somewhere? Who knows?

It’s a shame that ‘Mad Love’ suffered in production the way it did, because despite all the plot point cuts, and the severe softening of Barrymore’s character’s mental illness, ‘Mad Love’ is still somehow charming, and a far better film than it should be.”

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