In case Rain Man didn’t give you your fill of films about autistic characters, Ron Bass, writer of Rain Man, has decided to give us an unnecessary sequel. OK, this isn’t really a sequel, but it might as well be. Honestly, this film has everything Rain Man had except for a good scripts, solid performances, and oh yeah, Dustin Hoffman. Still, this romantic nonsense utilizes the same theme. Unfortunately autism here is reduced at times to stereotyping that appears grossly unfair to the millions of people who suffer from the disability and their loved ones. Some of the actors appear to be having a blast with their portrayals. They should be ashamed of the glee they derive from these “crazy” routines. They are neither entertaining nor fair. I’m sure none of this was the intent of the filmmakers, but it is insulting just the same. This is a huge part of the reason this film never has or never will capture the critical acclaim of Rain Man. In fairness, the leads Josh Hartnett and Redhe Mitchell take the roles more seriously than the pathetic supporting cast. There isn’t enough compelling for any of this to work on anything more than an emotional level.
Guts may make a good first impression, but this film has neither guts nor a good impression. The film pretends to have incredible bravado, but the mask of cowardice prevails. Except for the romantic interactions of the leads, we are never allowed too far beneath the surface of any of these complex individuals. Because of this fatal flaw, the romantic quirkiness loses all of its charm. An over-explanation of who these people are is a not so subtle attempt to remind us these folks suffer from autism. Show me, don’t tell me, is what my writing teachers have always said. Bass might benefit from a refresher course. Quirkiness like this is much more interesting the less it is explained. Allow these limitations to be part of the character without so many “remember we have autism” lines. The title is very confusing until you get to a pivotal Halloween party. Life is far too accelerated to be appreciated here. Issues arise from out of nowhere and are just as quickly resolved or simply forgotten. Wherever this tale is going, it missed a connection somewhere up the line. Save your nickels and watch Rain Man again. You’ll thank me for it.
Mozart and the Whale is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are realistic. The transfer is quite fair in quality. A tad of grain and compression artifacts are not persistent enough to be distracting. Black levels are mostly adequate. At times the image has a gritty feel that I suspect has been created for effect.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is actually pretty nice. The retro-sounding musical cues come through with impressive clarity. The tunes are actually quite catchy. Dialogue is almost always clear an up front. I say almost always because of the quirky nature of the actors’ speech. There are times you can’t really catch what they are saying. Forget about any sub response; the folks who mastered the disc sure did. Of course, a film like this doesn’t require a lot of sub action, does it?
There is an audio commentary with writer Ron Bass. He seems to fall asleep at the wheel, as there is a ton of dead air which is only marginally less interesting than when he’s actually speaking. Mostly he’s describing the action in a somewhat unengaged fashion. Perhaps this one bored the writer as much as this reviewer. Can’t really blame him, actually.
Only the commentary.
To be totally fair and honest, I’m not really into romantic films much. I suspect this site would benefit from a stronger female presence. So I freely admit I might have missed some terribly important point in all of this. That doesn’t mean I can’t recognize a stinker when I see one. I got in trouble for calling my wife a sap for liking this sort of thing, so I’ll refrain from making that call here. She tells me the film has many stronger points. My reply? “Name 6.”
Special Features List
- Commentary by writer Ron Bass