Of Mice and Men (1992) Blu-ray Review: A Fine Adaptation, but a Terrible Blu-ray

Gary Sinise had a brief period in his career where he also directed himself in certain movies. One of those was his 1992 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which also stars John Malkovich. It’s a story that has been adopted numerous times through television, film, and radio, and only the second film in which Sinise has directed in his tenured career. But it’s a story with which he is familiar and passionate – having worked in a stage version of the story.

Buy Of Mice and Men (1992) Blu-ray

Sinise plays George Milton, half of the two-man crew who make up most of the movie. The other is Lennie Small (Malkovich), who, ironically, is a gentle giant who has a mental disability and doesn’t know his own strength – unintentionally bringing harm to certain things he loves. George is like the hardened father figure to Lennie, reminding him not to be too rough to certain things or reminding Lennie to take care of something he was supposed to do a long time ago. George is also the brains behind the duo, making all the necessary decisions, even if Lennie disagrees.

Set during the Great Depression, the two hitch a ride to do a job, only to be misled by their driver. When they arrive, they’re initially not accepted but are then allowed to stay to help around the farm. The ranch is filled with some unique characters, including ranch hand Candy (Ray Walston), his son Curley (Casey Siemaszko), and Curley’s wife (Sherilynn Fenn). There’s a lot of tension that builds once Curley enters the scene, and his flirtatious wife makes Lennie believe she may be attracted to him. Conflict arises when Lennie, whose mental disability becomes aware to most people on the ranch, causes some unintentional issues and upsets some of the longtime residents of the ranch.

The movie is a terrifically acted adaptation, with strong performances by Sinise and Malkovich. Both excel in the roles of the two flawed men facing their own battles. Sinise’s direction is exceptional, and one wishes there was more from him in the director’s chair. Admittedly, I haven’t read Of Mice and Men since middle school, but this adaptation has piqued my interest in revisiting the book and seeking out other adaptations.

Now, onto the bad part. The transfer for this release is abysmal. The audio track is out of sync with the character’s mouths, and it’s wildly noticeable. At first, it seemed like I was dreaming. But then the movie kept going and the soundtrack kept getting worse. In addition, the dialogue is quiet in some moments and then audible just enough in others.

The visual component is fine, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an upgrade from your regular DVD released in the 2000s.

If you’re a fan of the actors in the movie, and of Steinbeck’s novel, I strongly recommend this version of the movie. It’s beautifully understated in its approach, and it’s criminal that it doesn’t get much recognition today. However, I encourage you to seek out other ways to watch the movie that isn’t this Blu-ray. If it’s on streaming, or if you can find an old DVD, that may a better option than what this poorly put-together Blu-ray has to offer. Oh, and no special features at all. Another reason why this release just seemed like they wanted to get it out, but gave no effort to giving it a proper upgrade.

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David Wangberg

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