DVD Review: Fried Green Tomatoes (Extended Anniversary Edition)
Release Date: June 6, 2006
· Jon Avnet
· Kathy Bates
· Mary Stuart Masterson
· Jessica Tandy
· Mary-Louise Parker
· IMDb: Fried Green Tomatoes
by R.J. Carter
Published: June 26, 2006
"Fried Green Tomatoes" is a milestone in chick-flick history. A character driven story that works on two levels, this adaptation of the Fannie Flagg novel is the story of wildly independent Idgie Threadgoode (Masterson, Law & Order: SVU) and the more demure Ruth Jamison (Parker, The West Wing) in Depression-era Alabama. These two women begin their relationship as far apart from being friends as possible. Following the death of her brother Buddy (Chris O'Donnell, "Batman and Robin"), the tomboyish Idgie becomes withdrawn and reclusive. Her mother asks Ruth to intervene, and despite a rocky start a bond is forged.
But it's a short-lived relationship. Ruth weds Frank Bennett (Nick Searcy) at the end of the summer, and Idgie once again withdraws. She knows that Frank is beating Ruth, but can't do anything about it. When Ruth's mother dies, Idgie and her friends come to Ruth's aid, taking her away to Whistle Stop where the two women set up a cafe. But Ruth has brought Frank's unborn child with her, and Frank is hell-bent on getting his son back, first showing up with his fellow Klansmen to burn some crosses and put the fear of God into Idgie and Ruth for daring to serve food to the local black folks, then on his own. It's during this second visit that Frank goes missing -- murdered -- and Idgie is the prime suspect, going on trial in a courtroom setting reminescent of "To Kill a Mockingbird", only without a decent Atticus Finch to come to her rescue.
This core story is told in a framework outer tale involving the meek and submissive Evelyn Couch (Bates, "Failure to Launch") and the elderly Ninny Threadgoode (Tandy, "Driving Miss Daisy"). As Evelyn continues visiting Ninny at the nursing home, she gets more and more of the story of Idgie and Ruth -- idylls of Dixie which could be interpreted as a sort of "Brokeback Mountain" relationship between the two women, but never overtly comes out and says so. The tale has its impact on Evelyn, however, as she grows from being a doormat to an assertive southern woman.
Evelyn Couch meets Ninny Threadgoode, who unfolds to her
the saga of Idgie and Ruth.
L-R: Tandy, Bates
This anniversary release, extended edition clocks in at two hours and 17 minutes. The main feature has an optional audio commentary track with Director John Avnet, and can be subtitled in English, Spanish or French. The special features include slightly over a minute of deleted scenes, nearly three minutes of outtakes, and a one-hour featurette, "Moments of Discovery: The Making of 'Fried Green Tomatoes'" that goes beyond the standard behind-the-scenes documentary both in length and in content. Rather than focusing on how scenes were shot, the crew and cast members look at how they related to elements of the film. Some of the interviews appear to have been conducted during the filming, while others are obviously more recent.
Rounding out the features is a look at John Avnet's Director's Notes, production photographs, and the poster campaign. These three are all presented as a slow moving video rather than with the left-right arrow paging options. That paging option is used, however, when viewing "Sipsey's Recipes", featuring a nice array of some down home southern favorites.