The 100 Mile Rule, as a corny salesman puts it, means that when you are more than 100 miles from your wife, cheating doesn’t count. It is some kind of moral loophole used by salesmen who travel frequently, allowing them to be unfaithful to their wives. While the phrase is quite original, the film is made up of parts belonging to other movies, a kind of Frankenstein if you will. Not to say that 100 Mile Rule resembles that monster, because it is actually quite enjoyable. However, you will need to get past the m…ny references and duplications of other movies to enjoy it.
Bobby (Jake Weber) is a married salesman who is attending a sales convention in Los Angeles with colleagues Jerry (David Thornton) and Howard (Michael McKean). Jerry and Howard are oversexed and desperate older men while Bobby loves his wife and kids and misses them while he is away. However, when Monica (Maria Bello), a beautiful cocktail waitress and struggling actress starts pursuing him, Bobby can’t fight the attraction. After a one night stand, Bobby finds himself in a blackmail plot, needing to come up with 60,000 dollars to prevent a tape of the affair from being sent home to his wife.
As I said before, 100 Mile Rule will seem very familiar to most movie goers. I was thinking Very Bad Things while watching it, and was vindicated in my reasoning when one of the characters references that movie. On the commentary track, director Brent Huff admits that he wanted several scenes to resemble different movies. Whether or not this works is up to you. It can be taken as post-modernism, where art references other works, or you can chalk it up to lack of originality. I’d like to say it’s the prior, because the movie doesn’t feel like a rip-off and it has a great script.
What makes 100 Mile Rule work above all else, is the cast. Jake Weber plays the straight man well, while David Thornton’s hair is a character itself, complementing his false-sense-of-slick performance. Michael McKean plays the veteran salesman to a tee, believing that success in sales somehow translates to blackmail plots. Maria Bello, earning accolades in The Cooler, plays a rookie femme-fatal; different from the ones we’ve seen before in film noir of the past. She has a certain charm about her without being the cliché cold-hearted woman in those kinds of movies.
100 Mile Rule is breezy entertainment in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven. It’s mindless fun that won’t have you on the edge of your seat, and won’t be on your mind much after you’ve seen it, but it works because it’s so familiar. Director Robert Zemeckis said once that the general public likes to know what they are getting, which is why they love fast food. The same can be said about 100 Mile Rule, however it’s probably a little more upscale than McDonald’s. Chick-Fil-A anyone?
100 Mile Rule has a rich and crisp picture waiting to burst out, but unfortunately, the disc never lets it. Colors are drained and faded, sometimes blurry, and the picture is usually dark, although the movie seems well lit. There is little grain, but I would have settled for some if the picture were better.
While there is disappointment in the video, the disc’s audio is pretty good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track separates sound pretty well, giving the surrounds a nice workout with the musical soundtrack. The movie is dialogue driven, and is always audible, free of cracks and hisses. Shot mostly in a hotel, lows are pretty much neglected, save for the music that relies on bass.
A Dolby 2.0 audio track is also featured, and is a step down from the Dolby Digital one. While the dialogue still sounds fine, the music lacks the involving feel of the 5.1 track. If you can deal with music not being as surrounding as it is on the 5.1 track, this one will do its job.
We are treated to some nice special features, allowing one to learn a lot about the movie, which is nice, since it is direct-to-video. Whereas theatrical releases have the benefit of corporate tie-ins and advertising campaigns which translate into DVD’s loaded with meaningless extras, some of the DTV gems are lost, leaving fans to search in the Internet to find out more info… not here:
- Feature Commentary – An informative commentary with director Brent Huff, producers Eric Gustavson, and John Nelson is included. Here, Huff admits to wanting several scenes to be reminiscent of other movies, while pointing out the various crewmembers served as extras on the movie. Generally, he does a William Friedkin and simply explains what’s happening on screen, however, an informative nugget is occasionally found. Case in point: Huff jokingly explains that since he rented several Marriott rooms for a few weeks, using his rewards card, he can now stay at any Marriott in the world for two years.
- Trailer Gallery – While 100 Mile Rule’s trailer doesn’t appear, we do have the option to watch some trailers from other Velocity films. They include: Teknolust, Asylum Days, Blast, and Hallow’s End.
- Deleted Scenes with optional Commentary – Includes deleted scenes that could have been left in the film as they add a little more character development, but were taken out because of consistency reasons and running time. We also learn that Huff’s wife in real life played Bobby’s wife in the movie, and Huff removed a love scene because he didn’t want to see it every time he watched it.
- Behind the Scenes – This is a look behind the scenes by an unknown movie insider show, interviewing the cast and crew about the script and cast.
Let’s face it, 100 Mile Rule has been done before in movies like The Last Seduction and Very Bad Things. Not to say that you won’t enjoy 100 Mile Rule – it is funny and engaging at times and a nice way to kill 100 minutes. The disc isn’t loaded with extras but allows viewers to learn more about a well-done direct-to-video movie. And to find one of those, you will usually have to drive 100 miles.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Trailer Gallery
- Deleted Scenes with optional Commentary
- Behind the Scenes