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Sabrina (1995)

Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywood — when will you learn? Whatever money you make by rehashing classic movies and "updating" them for a new generation is not worth the credibility you simultaneously toss out the window. Even a remake like Sydney Pollack's 1995 version of Sabrina, chock full of big-name stars and the best intentions, falls flat compared to the original. Because try as she might, Julia Ormond is no Audrey Hepburn; her perpetually ready-to-weep style of acting is nowhere near as captivating as Hepburn's gamine charm. Ormond is pretty enough as chauffeur's daughter Sabrina Fairchild, but her emotional fragility is unsettling rather than endearing — it's hard to think she's not going to snap and start stalking someone. The likely candidate at first seems to be David (Greg Kinnear), the handsome younger son of the filthy rich Larrabee family; after the mousy (long hair and baggy clothes = mousy in movie-land) Sabrina returns from a year in Paris all glam-ified, her lifelong object of affection finally starts paying attention to her. But the dallying David is engaged, and not to just anyone — his fiancé Elizabeth's (Lauren Holly) father just happens to own a company David's older brother Linus (Harrison Ford) is itching to take over. So Linus steps in and starts wooing Miss Sabrina Fair himself to get her out of the way, only to find his calculated plan going awry when he falls for her. It's a sweet enough story, and to give Pollack and his cast credit, this Sabrina is definitely watchable. The perfectly cast Kinnear is all golden smiles as playboy David (William Holden played the role in the original), and the late Nancy Marchand steals all of her scenes as Larrabee matriarch Maude. But in the debits column are Ormond's aforementioned weepiness (which also plagued her in Legends of the Fall and First Knight) and Ford's gruffness — he hasn't done a good romantic comedy since Working Girl. Not that Humphrey Bogart was that much warmer or fuzzier in Billy Wilder's version, but the original should be seen by all. However, if you're hard up for a fairy tale love story, this Sabrina will do in a pinch. Paramount's DVD offers a strong anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), while audio options include a nice DD 5.1 track as well as Dolby 2.0 Surround (French 2.0 and English subtitles are also included). Trailer, keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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