Ralph Potts reviews this romantic comedy from writer/director Rebecca Miller about a young New York City woman whose plans to have a baby on her own are derailed when she falls in love with a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to a brilliant, and impossible academic.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2016
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 99 minutes
Genre: Romance/Comedy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Russian/Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Russian, Thai
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel
Written & Directed by: Rebecca Miller
Music by: Michael Rohatyn
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 23, 2016
"It's Complicated…"
My Take:

In Rebecca Miller’s witty romantic comedy, Maggie (Greta Gerwig) is a vibrant New Yorker who, without success in finding love, decides to have a child on her own. But when she meets John Harding (Ethan Hawke), an anthropology professor and struggling novelist, she falls in love for the first time. Complicating matters, John is in an unhappy marriage with Georgette (Julianne Moore), an ambitious academic who is driven by her work. With some help from Maggie’s eccentric best friends, married couple Tony (Bill Hader) and Felicia (Maya Rudolph), Maggie sets in motion a new plan that intertwines their lives and connects them in surprising and humorous ways.

Written and directed by Rebecca Miller Maggie's Plan is based on a story by Karen Rinaldi, and is a modern romance built around the complexities that can sometimes accompany relationships in a world where much is accepted. The meat of this story revolves around the characters of Maggie, John and Georgette. While not a fleshed out as I would have like, Miller captures the essence of the entangled threesome as they writhe through the twists and turns of their cautionary tale. Feeling much like a Woody Allen film both in tone and aesthetic, this is definitely told from the feminine perspective, and appropriately so.

While I didn't find the narratively to be wholly gratifying, I reveled in the excellent performances by Gerwig, Hawke, and Moore. I felt that the characters of Tony and Felicia played by Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph added nothing of substance, and could have been portrayed by anyone. The humor was suitably subtle while complimenting the drama/romance. I liked the off kilter thematic spin and found the dialog to be spot on. All in all an enjoyable genre piece that struck nearly every chord for my wife and I.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language and brief sexuality.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE= 92-100/EXCELLENT= 83-91/GOOD= 74-82/AVERAGE= 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE= under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
Video: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:
Maggie's Plan comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps.

This is a pleasing high definition presentation that exhibits video quality that is consistent with a newer release film on Blu-ray. This film is adorned by a sepia toned aesthetic that combines with its use of autumn colors, mainly browns, beiges, and reds, to set the thematic tone intended by the filmmakers. It rarely makes for eye catching imagery but the results are pleasing. Fleshtones tend to look a little balmy but otherwise fall in line with the film’s visual elements. Contrast is spot on and blacks are fairly delineated and deep. Images are crisp and resolute with defining sharpness that provides appreciable dimension. The video is whistle clean and shows no obvious signs of compression errors or video related anomalies.

The front heavy lossless surround mix features dialog that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. Detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and off camera cues are rendered with appreciable clarity and depth. There is little call for surround activity and extended dynamics however there are a few instances that provide a discernable level of spatial envelopment and appropriate low frequency support.

Bonus Features:
  • (HD) "Controlling Fate" – The Making of Maggie's Plan – 16 minute featurette
  • (HD) Outtakes – 7 minutes
  • (HD) Q&A at The Sundance Film Festival – 11 minutes
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Rebecca Miller
  • (HD) Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

Written and directed by Rebecca Miller Maggie's Plan is based on a story by Karen Rinaldi. I found it to be a rewarding and quirky modern day romance that put a refreshing spin on the genre. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits mated with a decent supplemental package. Maggie's Plan doesn’t work on all levels, but it succeeds where it matters most, and should appeal to discerning genre fans.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
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