After the uproarious zaniness of WHAT'S UP, DOC?, Streisand's follow-up picture, the decidedly bizarre UP THE SANDBOX, confused much of the film-going public and the film became the star's first flop at the box office. However, this poor reputation has only added luster to the film's appeal today, and UP THE SANDBOX has become a film that is very special to Streisand's many fans. The film's new-found appreciation is largely due to Streisand's beautifully restrained performance, which is full of warmth and nuanced believability. When she's taking on the routine banalities that were typical of the seventies' housewife, Streisand never fails to make the mundane appear so radiant and lovely.
Director Irvin Kershner (best known for directing THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) gives the film an eerily abstract, European-like feel that lends UP THE SANDBOX an usual art house-style vibe. This is not a perfect film, however. The pace is almost rigidly slow and, even for a film with a 98 minute runtime, there are scenes that feel endless. Also, several of the fantasy sequences do not parallel the central storyline as well as they were intended to, which throws the film a bit off-balance and making it feel more uneven than it should. Finally, many of the issues the film raises, which were somewhat quaint even in '72, have dated badly when viewed today. But I still praise the film for it's uniqueness, and it's terrific lead performance. In the end, UP THE SANDBOX works as a vehicle for Streisand, and it allows the actress to showcase the quieter side of her brilliance.
About the DVD: The picture quality is very good (light years ahead of the hazy VHS copies), and the mono sound is also fine. The trailer and vintage featurette are entertaining, but the biggest feature is Streisand's terrific full-length commentary track (which more than makes up for the disappointedly skimpy track that she contributed to the WHAT'S UP, DOC DVD). Director Kershner is featured on a separate track, which is also very much worth listening to.