Written By Jeff Mardo
TNT is slowly becoming the poor man’s HBO. Their programing quality has improved dramatically over the past couple of years, and even their original films are starting to look more like features than made-for-TV time wasters. More often than not, they provide quality programming that is a step above what you usually find on cable television.
This particular TNT original was both written and directed by William H. Macy. Predictably, Macy stars in the film as well. He pays a movie reviewer who is involved in an…accidental death, which of course he tries to duck out of instead of contacting the authorities. Every time he gets close to getting himself out of the situation, he does something stupid which keeps him in the picture. The film plays very much like a film noir mystery, except Macy constantly breaks character and shares his feelings directly with the audience. This is an odd little quirk that doesn’t really work for me most of the time, but it is certainly a gutsy move to make as a filmmaker.
Macy is wonderful as always in his role as a marginally-talented crook. He excels at playing inept losers, and this role is no different. On the one hand, I hate to see an actor typecast when he is so talented. However, he is just so good at these types of roles that it would be simply criminal to not allow him the opportunity to play one.
I know that TNT has an HD channel, so I was surprised to find that the audio track here is only available in the standard Dolby stereo format. The track is decent, but certainly nothing special. The surrounds are not used at all (of course), and the low-end is pretty week as well. However, the dialog is clear… even in the scenes when it is presented at a whisper. This is not a showcase audio track, but it gets the job done as well as a good TV broadcast would.
I was pleasantly impressed with the picture quality that I found here. Colors are spot-on, and black levels are deep. I was especially impressed with the clarity of the images in the film. Grain is kept down to respectable levels, and the frames just look sharp.
However, flesh tones do skew a bit toward red during the dark nighttime scenes. Severe edge bleed can also show up under certain lighting conditions. Overall, however, I was pleased with the look of the disc, and the high quality of the transfer.
This is truly a bare-bones release. It’s understandable, since this was a made-for-TV film. Still, I know that TNT had to have put together some substantial promotional materials to promote the film when it originally aired on the network. I find it hard to believe that at least something could not have been added to help fill out this disc.
I’m not sure that I should be surprised, but this is a fun little film. The disc is nothing special, so it may be a rental, but the movie itself is actually pretty entertaining. Bill Macy is great, as evidenced by his Emmy nomination for best actor. If you can find this disc for cheap, it might be worth picking it up. However, as there are no extras and only a stereo soundtrack, I must regrettably say that this is probably a disc that should be passed by.