One of the lesser-known, but more visible, provisions of the Obama administration’s stimulus bill is the provision that there must be at least one Sandra Bullock movie in the theatres at all times, regardless of quality. So now, as Bullock collects awards for her turn in the enormously profitable The Blind Side, here is the summer’s offering making its home video debut. Our heroine this time around is a deeply eccentric crossword creator whose social skills are somewhere south of Pee-Wee Herman’s. Her parents set her up on a blind date with TV news cameraman Bradley Cooper. She is immediately smitten. He is immediately terrified. He heads out on the road, working with reporter Thomas Haden Church. Faster than you can say “restraining order,” Bullock takes off after him. Cue the merry cross-country picaresque chase.
Never let it be said that Sandra Bullock is anything less than gifted when it comes to physical comedy. Her amorous lunge for Cooper, brought up short by a seat belt, is one for the books, echoing the dog-on-a-chain gag from Looney Tunes. She is also very good at inhabiting characters, and she does so very well here. Too well, in fact, as she very convincingly creates a protagonist you wouldn’t be able to stand being around for five minutes, let alone the 99 of the movie. Yes, the film is aware of its creepy premise, and yes, it allows a tiny (very tiny) measure of realism to squeeze into the fantasy of its finale, but for the most part, this is a flat, unengaging and unsympathetic would-be romantic comedy.
While I can’t say I enjoyed the film (in fact, I believe I just said the opposite), the image quality did offer some compensations. Yes, the quality may be what one should take for granted with a new, major studio Blu-Ray release, but the fact remains that there is plenty to appreciate here. The colours are strong yet naturalistic, with excellent flesh tones and lovely, rich blacks. Grain and edge enhancement are banished from sight, and the aspect ratio is the original 1.851 anamorphic widescreen.
Excellent stuff, here too. This isn’t a genre that requires a mind-blowing sound design, but while you’re being driven batty by the plot, there are all sorts of lovely effects to track from speaker to speaker. During one of Church’s news reports, a passing helicopter actually had me looking up at my ceiling – it was that convincing. There were one or two moment where the dialogue distorted slightly at high volumes, but said dialogue also holds its own against the energetic music mix. All in all, a fine effort, then.
Commentary Track: Writer Kim Barker joins director Phil Traill and cast members Bullock, Church, Cooper and Jeong for the track. This is a lively one, but rather too top-heavy in participants to be of much serious use, and doesn’t venture too far out of the “that was so much fun and here’s how we did this shot” territory. All these people also take part in the optional commentary tracks for the Deleted/Alternate Scenes, Gag Reel, and Duet.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes: (9:14) Nice having the commentary to explain why these bits were taken out, should you care.
Gag Reel: (5:29) The commentary feels a bit superfluous here.
Bradley Cooper and Kim Jeong’s A Capella Duet: (1:42) As this gag really needs an explanation, the commentary is welcome.
All About All About Steve: (10:38) Bet you never saw that title for the making-of featurette coming, did you? Typical promo stuff.
Hollywood Dish with Mena Mitcheletti: (17:47) A parodic entertainment show that manages to be instantly even more annoying than the things it is mocking.
Crew Snapshots to Mary’s Rap: (3:26).
Life After Film School: (23:42) An episode of the cable program with director Traill being interviewed by the film students.
This year’s good Sandra Bullock romantic comedy was The Proposal. This is the bad one. Avoid.