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Paramount Studios presents
The Temp (1993)

"Before you tell your boss you're not in control of the situation, why don't you let your assistant assist you?"
- Kris Bolin (Lara Flynn Boyle)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 30, 2002

Stars: Timothy Hutton, Lara Flynn Boyle
Other Stars: Faye Dunaway, Oliver Platt, Maura Tierney, Dwight Schultz, Steven Weber, Scott Coffey
Director: Tom Holland

MPAA Rating: R for language and scenes of violence
Run Time: 01h:36m:43s
Release Date: April 16, 2002
UPC: 097363279341
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-B- F

DVD Review

Anyone who has worked in the corporate world knows that, with all of its petty viciousness and fierce competition, it is a rich source from which to mine a wealth of dramatic material. Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child's Play) directed this paranoid little thriller, set in the apparently cutthroat cookie industry, by blending familiar elements from a wide, disparate range of films, from The Hand That Rocks The Cradle to Wall Street to Gaslight.

Peter Derns (Timothy Hutton) is a frazzled young exec on the rise, with his eyes eagerly set on a vice-president position. The opening sequence establishes the fact that he has been seeing a therapist for acute bouts of paranoia, which his shrink refers to as his "Mr. Hyde" persona; this affliction will figure prominently in the events that transpire for the duration of The Temp. Derns' company has just been bought out by an even larger, faceless conglomerate, and no one is quite sure who might get axed or who might get promoted. The pressure is on to impress the new ownership, and Derns is determined to burn the midnight oil to develop a new marketing campaign for an upcoming line of cookies. However, on the same day, his much-depended upon assistant Lance (Scott Coffey) takes an unexpected two-week leave to care for his wife and new baby.

The temporary assistant (the "temp" of the title) sent to help Derns in Lance's absence is the ultra-efficient and more than a little sexy Kris Bolin (Lara Flynn Boyle). Kris is a whirlwind, an organizing machine, and before she has even met her new boss, she has straightened up his office, and before long she has his credit card receipts alphabetized and his papers neatly filed. Plus, she makes really good coffee and wears short skirts, too. Is she too perfect?

The thriller components center on Derns' mounting suspicions of Kris, as her intentions and actions seem to have deeper, far more sinister roots. Or do they? Or is it just Derns paranoia acting up? A couple of office accidents (including a doozy with a paper shredder), as well as a couple of mysterious deaths make Kris' actions look more than a little questionable. The gaps in logic found in Kevin Falls' screenplay are sometimes deep, but the story unfolds fairly rapidly, though at times The Temp has the feel of a made-for-televison movie. In fact,the screenplay teeters comfortably back and forth between high drama and cornball scenarios.

One of the strengths here is Hutton as Derns, who gives a balanced performance as a character who is anything but balanced himself; he plays a driven guy, but a flawed one, nonetheless. Hutton, despite having appeared in so many forgettable films, is actually pretty good here, and the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) Jekyll and Hyde references cast sufficient doubt throughout the film as to whether Derns is paranoid make the character fun to watch. Hutton carries it well.

Director Holland also stacked the deck with a respectable and familiar batch of supporting players that contributed to the delivery of the sometimes implausible material, including Oliver Platt, Faye Dunaway, Dwight Schultz, Steven Weber and Maura Tierney. Dunaway, as the ballbusting corporate head, is terrific, in a campy, comic sort of way, in much the same vein as her memorable portrayal of Joan Crawford, with her smoothly meshed ham-handed line reading and sheer vitriol.

The Temp is a decent B-movie thriller (which means there are more than a few nagging plot flaws), but in its favor it features a couple of enjoyable performances from Hutton and Dunaway, and a fair amount of corporate bloodshed.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer on this one is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image detail is decent, but not spectacular, though many of the scenes come off a bit too dark, without the necessary richness of more substantive deep black levels. Fleshtones play a little too red on some of the interior shots, but look natural on the exterior sequences. Haloing is evident sporadically, and a few noticeable specks pop up during the final ten minutes.

Overall, not bad for a ten-year-old film.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Paramount has provided two English audio mixes on The Temp, in 5.1 and 2.0 surround. There is no real difference between the two, other than a slight improvement in separation on the 5.1 track. The rear channels are used sparingly (read: almost not at all), with the exception of some nice rain effects during a confrontation in the film's third act. Dialogue is clear on both mixes, but the Frederic Talgorn score sounds much fuller, not surprisingly, on the 5.1 track.

A 2.0 French track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Thirteen chapters and English subtitles are all we've got here.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Tom Holland's 1993 office thriller turns up the heat a few notches on the general paranoia and backstabbing that occurs in the typical corporate workplace. Not necessarily believable (what sane man would even remotely consider Lara Flynn Boyle over Maura Tierney?), but The Temp holds up as mindless B-movie pap, regardless.


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