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Trimark Pictures presents
Love, Honor & Obey (2000)

Ray: How's Alan?
Burdis: Well, for someone who's been stabbed, tortured, force fed LSD, thrown out of a window, and blown up, I'd say he's feeling pretty bad. Wouldn't you, Ray?
Ray: What's his middle name, Lucky?

- Ray Winstone, Ray Burdis

Review By: Daniel Hirshleifer  
Published: April 30, 2001

Stars: Jude Law, Johnny Lee Miller
Other Stars: Rhys Ifans, Sadie Frost
Director: Dominic Anciano, Ray Burdis

Manufacturer: Nimbus
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, sexuality, language and some drug content
Run Time: 01h:37m:53s
Release Date: April 17, 2001
UPC: 031398762829
Genre: gangster


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BC+B D

DVD Review

You've got to love the British. I mean, look what they've given the world over the years. From The Beatles to Monty Python, the British have added their fair share to popular culture. Well, Love, Honor And Obey is another reason to thank the British for just plain existing. Sure, this film isn't Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, but it's some cheeky, modern English fun. I didn't suddenly see the deeper meanings of love and life, but I did have a lot of fun and laughed my butt off.

Jonny Lee Miller plays Jonny, a nobody in a dead-end courier job. His friend Jude (Jude Law) is the nephew of the most powerful gangster in London, Ray (Ray Winstone). Jonny uses Jude to get into Ray's "firm" (gang, for those of you not in touch with the latest British slang). Jonny manages to get on Ray's good side very, very fast. But Jonny wants to play "big bad gangster," just like in the movies, so he starts a gang war. Hilarity, as you might expect, ensues. The feud between the North London and South London gangs culminate at Ray's wedding to soap actress Sadie (Sadie Frost). As you've no doubt noticed, almost all of the characters in the film happen to have the same first name as the actors portraying them. I'm not sure if this is a joke or just laziness by the writers, Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis, who also produced and directed the film, acting in it as well.

Whether or not Anciano and Burdis were lazy with the character names, they more than make up for it with their screenplay. Although the plot isn't anything extraordinary, the jokes are wonderful. The film has a dry, distinctly British humor, which is well delivered by all the actors. There are tons of sight gags here. Right at the beginning, the opening credits are played over all the characters in the film singing karaoke songs. If a picture begins like that, you can only imagine where it might go from there. The film also has several running jokes, such as one gang member who cannot get get it up no matter how he tries, or another gang member who manages to get stabbed, tortured, force fed LSD, and...and...well, read the quote above. Anciano and Burdis do a great job of making the audience accept unlikely situations, and making them laugh at situations most people would find ugly or distasteful. The only problem is that the humor is so well done that the more serious scenes lose some of their impact. Anciano and Burdis can't find the right balance between humorous and serious moments. Having Jonny narrate the film in a clown costume, while funny and ultimately important to the story, did not help the film achieve balance.

Also, I find something lacking in their direction. There are several scenes that are supposed to be thrilling or suspenseful, but they just came off flat an unfunny. I think after so much offbeat humor, the audience simply can't move back into a conventional movie mode, so the suspense scenes don't work. Also, there's one scene where a character is on LSD, and the "effects" that are supposed to be his point of view as he hallucinates consists of the colors on the screen turning to pink. For a time I wasn't sure if it was an effect or if my TV was broken! However, the finale of the film is really a subtle, surreal piece of work that succeeds on every level. It got me excited and anxious, just like good suspense should.

All of the actors in Love, Honor And Obey do a great job. Without a doubt half of the humor comes from the delivery of the lines, and these actors do not disappoint. For me, the best performances came from Ray Winstone, Ray Burdis, and Dominic Anciano the writer/director/producers of the film. Winstone is as wonderfully deadpan while delivering absolutely hilarious lines, as he is able to emote plentifully. By far he gave the most well-rounded performance. Burdis has a great part as the aforementioned "hard luck" gangster, who tries everything possible, from bondage to blow-up dolls to sex counselors, all to no avail. Anciano plays the man who has taken it upon himself to help Burdis in his quest, going about as far as a friend can to help the cause. Burdis and Anciano have a great rapport, and come off so well, that they could easily star in a film without needing other actors to carry it.

And that brings me to the two "leads." While Jude Law and Jonny Lee Miller do get top billing, Love, Honor, and Obey is more of an ensemble piece. The movie begins with the focus on Jonny and Jude, but they soon take a back seat to the other, more interesting characters in the film. Jude Law seems sort of lost in this film. He does not have any funny lines, rather, he sits back and watches while other characters create the comic gold. While he doesn't give a bad performance, he doesn't give a particularly memorable performance. Jonny Lee Miller, on the other hand, has a little more to do. After all, he does narrate the film and initiate a gang war. But Miller's reading of the character is pretty stone-faced and distant. The character never really develops beyond a mere sketch. As it is, Jonny's character is amazingly stupid. His reasons for starting a gang war are never really clear. At first I thought it was a thirst for power, but he was moving up pretty quickly in the gang anyway, so lusting for even more power seemed absurd. It's impossible to like a character with unclear (or stupid) motives, the type who deserve whatever bad things come their way.

As it is, Love, Honor, And Obey is a very entertaining film with some boring scenes and an aggravating main character. The humor is such that it can easily carry the whole film, but I felt that more could have been done to help us better understand Jonny's character.I can say one thing for sure: I'm definitely looking forward to the next Anciano/Burdis film.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Trimark brings us Love, Honor And Obey in a nonanamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a passable transfer, although there were specks at several points in the film, and the image is never exactly sharp. I noticed a little edge enhancement, but only in some isolated spots at the beginning of the film. Not exactly a pretty picture, especially if you have a widescreen TV, but good.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Love, Honor And Obey is presented in Dolby Stereo 2.0. This movie, while not entirely dialogue driven, is not a heavyweight in terms of sound in the first place. The transfer on this disc is perfectly fine. The mix is very clear, there was no audible hiss, and dialogue was never drowned out.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring xChange, Once In The Life
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: A trailer, full screen, no less. Nothing much to be impressed with—not even an insert. We do get two other trailers for two duds, xChange and Once In The Life, the second was actually directed by Laurence Fishburne. Not that it looks good. I really wish there could have been a group commentary, or at least an Anciano/Burdis commentary. They would have been hilarious. On the other hand, at least we have subtitles. This is quite important for this film, because it's often hard to understand the accents of the various characters, especially when they're speaking in slang. An invaluable tool, in this case. Not to mention they were yellow and easy to read.

Something interesting I should note: if you're watching the movie, then press menu to go to the chapter selections, note that you have to press "menu" to get back to the point in the movie where you were before. If you're in the scene selection area, and go to "Play Movie," it will start from the beginning.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Love, Honor, And Obey is a very funny, but flawed film that is nonetheless worth seeing. The DVD itself is a bit disappointing. Worth at least a rental.

 


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