Ben Affleck is a good actor. So why does he make so many bad choices? I can understand how mistakes like Pearl Harbor could happen on the front end, but how do you explain the fact that he did wonderful work in Hollywoodland and he shows up in a low-budget film like this one all in the same year? He was wonderful in Good Will Hunting and ate up every scene he was in in Boiler Room. Then he did Gigli. This guy is all over the place.
What’s frustrating is that he’s pretty good…even here, in a film that is overwhelmingly bland. Our man plays a talent agent who is having a crisis of personality. He has lost his confidence, his marriage is falling apart, and there’s some unfortunate business with a personal journal. In fact, it’s the journal that is the crux of the film. Journal, journal, journal. Practically the entire film is told in voice over. The only thing that I can imagine that is more bland than reading the journal of a no-talent Hollywood agent is hearing the guy read it to you himself.
I can sum up my feelings on this film in two words; “who cares”? So a shallow, talentless hack is trying to discover who he is. Who cares? The problem is, there’s nothing there to discover. At the beginning of the film, he is a shallow, moderately-successful guy. By the end of the film, he is a shallow guy that is OK with being moderately-successful. Who cares? I certainly didn’t.
The audio here is as flat as the script. All the film’s sound is just thrown up in front of the viewer, with no dynamic range to speak of. The track does not take advantage of what the 5.1 format has to offer, but instead presents an entirely bland soundtrack that adds nothing to the film. Lows are not low, highs are not high, and the surround speakers are on holiday. The 5.1 rack spread the front of house out a little wider than the 2.0 offering, but that’s about it. There is really no benefit of seeing this film on DVD instead of through basic cable.
Boy, the video transfer here is really rough. The images actually bleed over into the edges of the letterboxing. The colors are also way off, skewing heavily toward red. Images are overwhelmingly grainy and dark. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the transfer is blurry, but it certainly lacks the sharpness and clarity that consumers have come to expect from DVD. Out of all of these shortcomings, the lighting issues are the biggest problem. The vast majority of the film’s scenes are criminally under-lit. Almost half of each frame is shrouded in darkness of one kind or another. Some scenes even have the actors faces obscured. Clearly, it was amateur hour in the production’s lighting department.
Many of the extras on the disc are the standard faire that shows up on many discs these days. There are trailers for other Lionsgate films here, as well as a blooper reel filled with flubbed lines. The twist here is that the bloopers are taken from the filming of the other extras, and not from the film itself. While I can credit this disc as being the first one I have seen handle bloopers in this way, I can also say that bloopers usually come from the movie for a reason. These segments are normally not very funny, but when they are taken from interview segments, they are made to be even more of a drag.
There are two featurettes on the disc. Visual Journaling is a traditional electronic press kit with snippets of the film’s actors talking about how great the script is and how wonderful the crew were to work with. The second segment, Talk to my Agent, is a similar segment, where the actors talk more about their personal dealings with agents. This is a great idea for a featurette, but it is so packed with scenes from the film that you have presumably just watched that there is really very little real information here. At three minutes in length, maybe I was expecting too much.
The extras wrap up with nine deleted scenes. Take a boring movie and cut out the slow parts, and you will see where I am going with this collection of surplus scenes. They are presented in a rough-cut format, without foley or a full 5.1 mix.
This is a film about one man’s journey to look at his own life and find out who he really is. Unfortunately, he is an entirely boring person, and the audience is dragged along for the entire bland ride. Character studies only work of the subject has something enlightening to offer. Imagine if the entire film Jerry Maguire ended after the first act. And there was no “mission statement”. Just a shallow guy who realizes that he is a loser. There’s really not much more depth to him, he just comes to terms with himself.
The fact that this film came out last year, and this is the first that I have heard of it, suggests that the studio knew they had a weak film on their hands. The fact that it was put out with such little regard to the audio and video confirms it. Affleck is a fine actor, and he has done some really great work in the past. Please seek out one of those films, and pretend that this one never happened.
Special Features List
- Visual Journaling – making-of featurette
- Talk to my Agent featurette
- Deleted Scenes