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Trimark Pictures presents
Skipped Parts (1999)

"Grownups are so full of bull."
- Sam Callahan (Bug Hall)

Review By: Dale Dobson  
Published: July 04, 2001

Stars: Bug Hall, Mischa Barton, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Other Stars: Peggy Lipton, R. Lee Ermey, Michael Greyeyes
Director: Tamra Davis

Manufacturer: Technicolor
MPAA Rating: R for sexual situations, some involving young teens, and for language
Run Time: 01h:39m:40s
Release Date: June 26, 2001
UPC: 031398767022
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- AB+A- C+

DVD Review

Sam Callahan (Bug Hall) is fourteen years old, a well-read young man of the early 1960s who does what he can to keep his wild mother Lydia (Jennifer Jason Leigh) on the straight-and-narrow. When his grandfather (R. Lee Ermey) runs for governor, he exercises his financial influence to pack Sam and Lydia off to another state. Here, Sam meets Maurey Pierce (Mischa Barton), also fourteen, and the two begin to experiment with sex on a friendly basis, Maurey's boyfriend (Brad Renfro) and Sam's ostensible girlfriend (Alison Pill) notwithstanding. Lydia, enjoying herself with new boyfriend Hank Elkrunner (Michael Greyeyes), more or less encourages Sam and Maurey's premarital affair. When Maurey becomes pregnant and her mother goes insane, Sam, Maurey, Lydia and Hank struggle to solve an unusual set of family problems.

The film's title, Skipped Parts, refers to the sexual details frustratingly omitted from Sam's reading, and the DVD keepcase copy implies the movie is a typical teen sex comedy. It is anything but. Fine performances abound, from Jennifer Jason Leigh's flighty, emotionally unstable Lydia to the complex, precocious girl Maurey, played with skill and commitment by Mischa Barton (The Sixth Sense). Maturing child actor Bug Hall does impressive, intelligent work as Sam, and the supporting actors are consistently credible, especially Peggy Lipton as Maurey's troubled "Betty Crocker" mother. Skipped Parts achieves a level of naturalism unseen in most major studio films, unassisted by fancy editing, and the performances are a joy to watch.

Director Tamra Davis approaches this story with frankness, sensitivity and humor. There's no nudity, but little is left to the imagination otherwise. Sam and Maurey's studiously casual sexual relationship is touching, simultaneously sad and funny, and Sam's dreamworld fantasies (starring Drew Barrymore) are bound to resurrect male viewers' comically painful memories of adolescence. The film has a strong literary feel, with thematic unity provided by Sam's narration, and the material never feels contrived or manipulativeˇthese are real characters who have to live with their choices, and the drama is derived from the difficulties they encounter in the process. Skipped Parts manages to be funny, mature and thoroughly human in a way few coming-of-age movies achieve. Prior to this disc's appearance in my review stack, I had never heard of Skipped Parts. But I'm very glad it's turned up on DVDˇit's a jewel of a movie, an independent film that deserves a wider audience. Recommended.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Trimark presents Skipped Parts in its original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, with a solid, anamorphic digital presentation courtesy of the folks at Crest National (responsible for many excellent Anchor Bay DVD transfers). A few scenes exhibit minor shimmer or source-print dust flecks, with a hint of blocking and chroma noise in one scene with a patterned red sofa. But the transfer benefits from fine shadow detail, naturalistic color, and a crisper image than most low-budget movies manage. Trimark has been criticized in the not-so-distant past for middling, nonanamorphic DVD transfers, and Skipped Parts represents an impressive change for the better.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Skipped Parts is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 format, with good dynamic range devoted to a straightforward mix. Some directionality is apparent, mostly across the front soundstage, with discrete surrounds called into service on a few occasions. Dialogue is clear, music is solid, and the film sounds the way it should on DVD.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Tamra Davis
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Trimark supports Skipped Parts on DVD with 30 chapter stops, subtitles in three languages, and a few supplements:

Trailer:

A two-and-a-half minute promotional trailer, apparently intended for video, in 1.33:1 open-matte format with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio.

Director's Commentary:

Director Tamra Davis contributes an entertaining running commentary, discussing the film's challenging Canadian location shoot, the Last Picture Show influence in forming Tim Sandlin's novel and screenplay, and the difficulties of doing a period film on a low budget. Davis is talkative, open, and honest, with obvious, well-deserved pride in the film.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Skipped Parts is a gem of a movie, a coming-of-age story that succeeds in being hilariously frank and credibly optimistic about life, love, and responsibility. The DVD features a fine transfer, the best I have seen to date on a Trimark release, with a worthwhile director's commentary to boot. Definitely recommended.

 


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