This is an odd little film, indeed. The best way that I can describe it is as a cross between Bowfinger and a James Bond film. It is billed as a comedy, but the first half-hour is clearly drama. Of course, when the comedy portion does come in, it’s not funny either. The plot is surprisingly complex, but at its core, it involves a movie production that accidentally captures a crime taking place on film. Now the criminals are after the crew.
Truth be told, this might have turned out to have been a pret…y decent little script after 20 or 30 re-writes. There are elements of action, mystery and comedy that could have been developed into something at least as entertaining as The Tuxedo. Unfortunately, however, those re-writes were not performed, and what we have here is a rough draft caught on film.
The man behind the movie is comedian A. J. Jamal, who serves as writer, producer, director and star. In the indie world, Jamal is a lot like Jon Favreau, except for a few minor shortcomings such as talent, acting skills, writing skills, an artistic eye and comedic timing. This is the very definition of a bad film, with all of the key elements present. The acting is unprofessional, the lighting is heavy-handed, the jokes fall flat, the stunts are comical and the camera work is amateur at best. This is the kind of movie that a budding filmmaker does with his friends as practice. This is not something that should ever be released to the general public as a finished work.
This film is presented in the rarely-used audio format of Dolby Digital 4.0. This is an interesting choice for a movie, as it assures the viewer that no dialog will be coming from the television screen at all during viewing. In fact, almost as much of the dialog comes from the rear speakers as comes from the front. When someone is speaking, their voice comes from all sides of the room, completely undermining the reason surround sound exists in the first place.
There are some positive things to mention, however. While not consistent, there is some decent bass response, especially during the 007-esque opening credit sequence. The producers have also done an admirable job of trying to synch sound effects with their source on the screen, so that when a car moves across the frame from left to right, the audio follows.
I can comfortably say that this is the worst video quality that I have ever seen on a disc. There are so many things that are so wrong with this picture that I almost don’t know where to start. From the opening scene of the film, the most obvious problem is the lack of focus. The camera wanders wildly in and out of focus throughout the film, making me wonder how many 40 oz. bottles of Miller were consumed by the crew during production. Surely there was an auto focus button on the camera that could have been used when filming this movie… my camcorder has one. The whole film made me feel like I had just woken up from a long sleep.
Another major problem with this full screen fiasco is the lighting. Many shots are severely overexposed and washed out due to poor lighting techniques. Objects that are lighter in color have no definition whatsoever, and dark objects appear shiny.
Jerky camera movement and poorly chosen angles also show up frequently throughout the picture. I would feel comfortable giving the picture quality on this disc a perfect 0.0, but it’s in color, so I guess that has to account for something.
In addition to a simply horrible trailer for our feature presentation, there are also trailers for two other amateur-looking films. Also here is a commentary track that is mixed so low that it is hard to hear what the participants are saying over the production audio. I did manage to pick up a few gems, however, like the fact that many members of the crew also acted in the film. (You don’t say?)
Finally, there is a bonus stand-up special featuring the man of the hour, A.J. Jamal. This is a complete presentation of one of his comedy performances, filmed on camcorder, from Little Rock, AR. While some of his bits are mildly amusing, the shoddy camera work and questionable audio made me want to adjust my tracking.
Shame on you, Warner Brothers, for putting out a product of this quality. I would expect this kind of thing from Lion’s Gate, but I really thought that you knew better than this. Sure, you have had problems transitioning from snapper cases to Amaray boxes, but I could always count on you to provide me with a disc that is at least of average quality. I am disappointed in you for providing such a sub-par product. I hope you have learned your lesson.
Special Features List
- Stand-Up Special