Kieran Culkin and Emile Hirsch are best friends in a Catholic junior high. They are goingthrough the usual adolescent throes, but with a few twists. Hirsch’s budding romance with JenaMalone is complicated by a rather dark secret of hers. As well, their pranks, whose target is theirnemesis Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster), are spectacularly elaborate, not to mention dangerous.Hirsch’s hopes and fears also take the form of a cartoon (produced by Spawn creator ToddMcFarlane). Th… writing is strong, the film alternately hilarious and wrenching, and theperformances superb. Culkin in particular is impressive, stealing virtually every shot with thesmallest, but perfectly place, gestures.
The sound is very clean, and goes for a fairly low-key approach for the most part, switchingto bombast for the animated sequences. The problem is that the low key is a bit too low key, withsome nice opportunities for environment effects missed, and the dialogue in the animation isoften too quiet for the blood and thunder surrounding it.
The picture sometimes seems ever-so-slightly soft, and the layer transition is one of the worstI’ve seen, interrupting Hirsch in mid-step. Other than that, though, the picture is great, withstrong blacks, colours, contrasts and flesh tones, and a nice 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreenformat.
The menu is animated and scored, with rather sinister music playing behind comic bookimagery. The extras are nothing short of spectacular. The commentary is by director Peter Careand co-writer Jeff Stockwell. Though they do cover the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the shoot, thisdoes not overwhelm their discussion of the film was about and what it wanted to say. There’sanother one of those Sundance Channel “Anatomy of a Scene” features, this one looking at thedog sequence (I shall say no more for fear of spoiling things). The animated scenes can beviewed as one continuous segment, with optional commentary by McFarlane. Other extrasinclude an illustrations gallery, production and liner notes, bios, the theatrical trailer and TVspots (along with trailers for Panic Room, World Traveler and The Mystic Masseur), and DVD-ROM features. Somewhat disappointing features are the deleted scenes (which come in the formof a rather paltry montage barely more than 5 minutes long), the featurette (which seemsunfinished, with the sound coming exclusively in first one channel and then the other) and thecast interviews (nothing more than a longer, more polished version of the featurette).
Quite a package packed onto a single disc, and the movie is damn good to boot.Recommended.
Special Features List
- Animated Sequences with Optional Commentary
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- “Anatomy of a Scene”
- Deleted Scenes
- Illustrations Gallery
- Production Notes
- Cast & Crew Interviews
- DVD-ROM Features
- Liner Notes