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Image Entertainment presents
"You know what I'm gonna do instead of getting married again? I'm gonna find a woman who hates me and buy her a house."
DVD ReviewTake an eclectic cast of some of our finest, non-household-name actors, add some good music, a plot thatís all over the map, and a ridiculous title, and what do you get? The Night of the White Pants, thatís what, and this film has made its way through the film festival circuit over the last few years, never managing to land a theatrical distributor. Now, DVD collectors everywhere can see for themselves why the direct-to-DVD route is a good one for this movie, but at least Imageís disc is a mostly valiant effort.
Max Hagan (Tom Wilkinson) is a Dallas millionaire who faces problems everywhere he turns. Not only does he take care of his invalid sister, Lolly (Geri Jewell), but Max is also in the midst of divorcing Barbara (Janine Turner), and dealing with his drug-addled son, Millian (Fran Kranz), and overly stressed daughter, Beth (Selma Blair). When Beth brings her boyfriend, Raff (Nick Stahl) home to meet her father, Maxís world changes completely. With his life at rock-bottom, Max decides to hit the town with Raff, a drug-dealer, and finds out that thereís much more to living a full, exciting life than his money and material possessions.
If this is supposed to be a comedy, itís not funny; if itís striving for the dysfunctional family dynamic, it never finds it, and thereís little to no dramatic element that truly engages us. That said, writer/director Amy Talkingtonís film still had me glued to the screen from beginning to end, and Iím not entirely sure why. Itís definitely not the characters, who are woefully underwritten and not easy to love. Theyíre all carbon copies of similar folks from The Royal Tenenbaums or even the greatly-flawed Running With Scissors. So, not only have we seen them all before, but each and every person lacks any quirkiness or charisma.
The actors donít seem to be too involved in what theyíre doing either, but this likely harkens back to the poor script. Wilkinson, as always, is great, but his southern accent strains our suspension of disbelief a bit. Heís one of the best actors working today, and Talkington seemingly has no idea how to use his vast array of acting talent correctly. The beautiful Turner is the driving force of Maxís pain and anger, but sheís in the movie for maybe a total of 10 minutes. The same goes for Blair, whose Beth is rarely seen as well. The most confusing character presence, or lack of, is Stahlís Raff. Heís supposed to be the driving force behind what happens to Max that night, but, since thereís no substance to the Raff character, he becomes nothing more than an afterthought, despite a dominating amount of screen time.
Perhaps the reason I was so enthralled by this misstep is that I could sense that there was a good movie in there somewhere. Every time it seemed as if the story was about to pick up, something came along to drag it right back down into a monotonous, slow pace, and things were back to square one. A stronger, more-experienced writer/director might have made something out of this, but what we have instead is a relative newcomer making an interesting, yet ultimately poor film.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, this transfer is far from spectacular, but does feature enough sharp, detailed images to make for a solid effort. The colors are often muted, and shadow and contrast levels solid, but a bit of dirt and grain bog things down at times.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio isnít overly impressive, but the surrounds open up a bit to accommodate the nice music. Dialogue is always crystal clear and blends in perfectly with the rest of the sound effects.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 16 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Stuck, Y.P.F.
14 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Writer/Director Amy Talkington
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The extras begin with Making ďThe Night of the White Pants.Ē This 17-minute piece is a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the film, and it blends cast and crew interviews with on-set footage to give us a great idea at what went into the overall production.
An audio commentary with Writer/Director Amy Talkington is also here. This track is rather uninspired, but Talkington does cover quite a bit of ground and keeps things generally interesting.
Thereís also a text-based piece ďAbout the MusicĒ that includes the ability to jump to a specific scene in the film that includes a given tune. We also get 14 deleted scenes that include optional commentary with Talkington, and the theatrical trailer for The Night of the White Pants.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsGood movies involving dysfunctional families are prevalent in Hollywood these days, but The Night of the White Pants isnít among the better of those films. Still, the potential for a solid film is evident, and those of you up for a challenge still might want to check it out on Imageís new DVD.
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