James Belushi takes a stab at lighter comedy with 1990's Mr. Destiny costarring Michael Caine, Linda Hamilton, and Rene Russo. Directed by James Orr, the film kicks up the sentimental overtures as the film plays like a pseudo-remake to It's A Wonderful Life without becoming too sappy or saccharin for its own good. Good jokes and Belushi's charm make it a worthwhile venture. Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings Mr. Destiny to Blu-ray in fine order with a decent video transfer, a solid audio mix, and a couple good bonus features. Mr. Destiny is a good time for light entertainment. Recommended.
"Get the hell outta here!"
"As you wish sir."
What's old is new again and in the Hollywood machine that just means taking a familiar story and doing it again with a little spin. James Orr's 1990 comedy Mr. Destiny stars James Belushi as a man who couldn't help wonder what his life would be like if 20 years earlier he'd hit an easy pitch at a State Championship baseball game. Would his life be better? Would he still be with his faithful loving wife Ellen (Linda Hamilton)? As the years tick by and he's stuck in a job that doesn't appreciate him, he can't help but wonder. Thanks to a mysterious bartender called Mike (Michael Caine), Larry is about to find out.
Part of the fun of Mr. Destiny against all of the other clones of Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is the simple fact that it doesn't try too hard. There is a firm sense that this film knows what it is and doesn't try to be anything more than what it sets out to be in the first place. It's central theme about discontent and appreciating what you have is easily relatable and isn't stretched into oblivion by any sort of ponderous machinations. It's a simple exercise of dropping a character into a strange situation and see where they go.
Where some films can struggle with this idea is they inevitably fall back on the conceit that "life was already good you don't need anything better." That excuses the opportunity for the character to experience any sort of personal growth beyond their prescribed station. Belushi's Larry thankfully gets to undertake a little more growth than just appreciating the normal life he previously enjoyed. He gets to not only become a better person but also work to do the right thing in both realities he inhabits.
Mr. Destiny was part of a string of features for Belushi where he worked to try and adjust his image a bit. He was already well known for great comedic timing with an every-man flavor, but he was a bit tough and rough around the edges. Starting with K-9, Belushi began those inroads to friendlier territories. He capped off his transition to acceptable "Sitcom Dad" with 1991's Curly Sue. Thankfully he never really lost that boisterous edge that made movies like Red Heat so much fun. With Mr. Destiny, you get to see Jim play a little, stretch himself, and not feel too far out of reach of his natural talents.
Taken as a whole, Mr. Destiny is hardly complicated material. Truly, there aren't too many surprises as the film follows the prescribed trajectory of most comedies of this sort. Uncomplicated. To the point. Just fun. That's all this film tries to be and for that end of the show, it succeeds. Belushi does a great job feeding off his supporting cast including the few scenes he gets with the underused Michael Caine, but his turns with Linda Hamilton, Rene Russo, Jon Lovitz, and another terrifically slimy sleazeball turn by Hart Bochner from Die Hard are great. Great casting with solid comedic timing makes this film what it is. Director James Orr knew how to use his cast to the best of their abilities and the result is a fun comedy that holds up nearly 30 years later.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Mr. Destiny arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber and their Studio Classics label. Pressed onto a Region A BD-25 disc, the disc is housed in a standard Blu-ray case. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
Mr. Destiny lands on Blu-ray with a pleasing but not mind-blowing 1080p 1.85:1 transfer. The image is in great shape with visible, stable film grain, good clarity, and solid color saturation. However, this does not look like a very recent scan Produced by Disney's Touchstone label, this transfer looks like it was probably done some time ago for the DVD market and hasn't been touched since - not to say that is a bad thing. Details are pretty strong allowing you to see and appreciate all of the late 80s early 90s stylings. Colors are bright and vibrant with some brilliant primary hues - Larry and Ellen's blue house is a standout. Reds can be a tad hot at times leading to some overly pink skin tones, but nothing too serious. Some slight speckling is apparent but nothing distracting. This is a fine transfer overall, but like many back catalog titles, it could have used a new scan to really give it some new life. As it is, this is pretty good and perfectly acceptable.
Mr. Destiny gets a little more life out of its English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. Since the film is largely dialog-driven, sound effects and scoring are secondary elements that only come to prominence when necessary. The last act of the film gets a nice kick in action complete with gunfire and car chases and that's when the mix appropriately comes to life. Imaging is decent as there are some great sound gags - when Larry's golfing and loses his club on the backswing is a great bit of sound isolation. Atmospherics are on point giving the soundscape a nice sense of space and dimension. Levels are spot on.
While not plentiful, the audio commentary is actually a nice little worthwhile bonus feature for Mr. Destiny. Also included is the traditional batch of KLSC trailers of related or relevant titles.
Mr. Destiny certainly isn't the most complicated or thought-provoking comedy to ever hit movie theaters, but it's a nice one just the same. It's a piece of early 90s comfort food that features a great turn from James Belushi along with appearances from Michael Caine, Linda Hamilton, and Jon Lovitz. It's an old fan favorite that has finally made its way to Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics. The image transfer is pretty good, dated but still in fine shape while the audio mix is excellent. Toss in a decent audio commentary and you have a fun back catalog title to add to the collection. Recommended.