Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: New Regency/Gordon/Gittes
Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Runtime: 109 min
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray Case
Release date: September 1, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Video codec: AVC @ 32 Mbps
English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1; DUB: Spanish & French Dolby
English SDH & Spanish
• Audio Commentary by Director Luke Greenfield
• Scene Specific Commentary by Emile Hirsch
• Scene Specific Commentary by Elisha Cuthbert
• The Eli Experience – in SD (7:57)
• A Look Next Door – in SD (9:59)
• Gag Reel – in SD (2:47)
• Deleted & Extended Scenes – in SD (10:58)
If you want to see how fuzzy the line between homage,
emulation and rip-off, catch the scene where our hero
watches the girl next door undress. Everything about this
scene, from the music, to the "What the fuck!" comments of
his best friend, to the mood, reeks of Risky Business. Add
to this, the whole Senior Year hoping to get into the
college of one's choice thing, plus a main plot thread that
takes us into the seamier side of things (more so here, I'll
grant), and whatever might have been fresh about this movie
is strangled by imitation.
Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) looks back over a senior year
of opportunities neglected, especially when he compares
himself with the jocks and their leading ladies off the
field. He hopes to get into Georgetown – and who wouldn't.
But this summer Matthew's overachieving, but humdrum, life
is distracted by Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert), his next-door
neighbor's niece, who is visiting for a few weeks. Danielle
serves to open up Matthew's previously denied possibilities
– that is, until he learns of her past life as a porn star –
a life that she is trying to leave behind.
Let's pause for a moment at the concept of an "Unrated
Version" of the movie. The na´ve and unsuspecting of us –
especially us boys - might hope for more of the dreamy Ms.
Cuthbert. While there is certainly some exposed skin north
of the waistline, it ain't hers, at least not from the front
anyway. (Yeah, I know, you would only watch this movie for
the warm and fuzzy story it promises.) And what about this
actress, who at this point in her career had been playing
the most laughable female on television, the hapless Kim
Bauer? Do we get a chance to see what her acting chops are
made of? To be fair, the plot doesn't demand all that much,
but still, Ms. Cuthbert's presence in this movie isn't
nearly as stimulating as the cover art for the disc, and
this is regrettable at so many levels.
While Emile Hirsch is likeable enough, and there is one very
nice kiss, what redeems this film from the stagnant ooze of
soft porn are its supporting players: Timothy Olyphant as
the hardcore entrepreneur trying to get Danielle back in the
business, and Chris Marquette as Eli, Matthew's best friend
and budding film director who tries to shoot a porno movie
during the senior prom.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
I find it hard to believe this title is high definition at
all. It may be a passable image, barely, on a moderately
sized plasma, but in front projection, forget it! Perhaps
it's the lack of black in the dark scenes, the lack of
bright in the daylight scenes, the overall gauziness where
at times it's hard to tell where grain, if that's what it
is, leaves off and noise kicks in. I'm sure I've seen better
Audio & Music:
The audio mix fares better. Though front-directed for the
most part, the dialogue and ambient effects (Vegas clubs,
pool splashes, prom room dance music) are clear enough. The
music on the soundtrack is the best thing about the movie
and it opens things up nicely, especially at the prom and in
the nostalgic opening where high schoolers remember what's
memorable about their senior year. Look for Marvin Gaye,
Queen, David Bowie, The Who, Muddy Waters, N.E.R.D., Elliott
Smith, and others.
Another menu that hides the table of contents, requiring us
to advance chapter by chapter to find the scene we want;
same for the extra features.
Without detailing each segment, a few comments: A missed
opportunity not to have had Elisha and Emile do a commentary
track together. Their comments apart and for the few scenes
they do speak of make for lots of dead air. "A Look Next
Door" is the Making-of feature – routine EPK stuff. The high
point – or low point, depending on your point of view – is
the occasionally droll, and mostly silly "The Eli
Experience" where Chris Marquette takes us to the scene of
the crime: the adult sex industry. He is assisted in this by
pro wrestler and all around mountain, Matt "Horshu" Wiese.
Not to outdo the feature film, the extra features are all in
fair-to-poor quality SD. The Deleted Scenes are plastered
over with copyright warnings – who needs it!
I think the movie means well, and it does explore the world
of teenage fantasy and touch on adult sex industry in some
ways that Risky Business did not. Even in the "Unrated"
version, it's not all that smarmy. The music choices are
good, but a weak image and only adequate sound make for a
popcorn & beer party movie only (but what's wrong with that,
I ask you?)
September 5th, 2009