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MGM Studios DVD presents
The Learning Curve (2000)

"Oh yes, the winner for best performance by a true idiot is you."
- Marshal (Vincent Ventresca)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: April 24, 2002

Stars: Carmine Giovinazzo, Money Mazur
Other Stars: Vincent Ventresca, Jack Laufer, Majandra Delfino, Steven Bauer
Director: Eric Schwab

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for language, violence, sexuality, and drug content
Run Time: 01h:51m:47s
Release Date: April 23, 2002
UPC: 027616872944
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- D+A-B F

DVD Review

Stop me if you have heard this one before. Two young lovers meet under intense circumstances, fall in love and start a life of crime with only their love and passion to drive them into their next adventure. Sound familiar, like maybe you have seen it countless times before? Well, you have, and often better than the way it is done in Eric Schwab's debut film, The Learning Curve.

When Paul (Giovinazzo) saves Georgia (Mazur) from a man who is attempting to rape her, it seems as though Paul is just a good citizen and the two will part ways. But when she threatens to call the police, her attacker offers the contents of his wallet to keep the cops out of things. Paul and Georgia see this as a business opportunity: she will seduce men and he will barge in and save the day and make a niceliving. It works until the tables are turned and they cross Marshal (Ventresca), a man who sees through their plan and threatens to kill them if they don't help him. Marshal wants to build an entertainment complex but city council is resisting; he hopes Paul and Georgia can help him by pulling a fast one on each of the council members.

Unfortunately The Learning Curve comes across as a missed opportunity. The premise is intriguing, but there is just not enough in the script to make things work. We see only a hint of what drives Paul and Georgia to do the things they do, which seems to be just for fun and profit. A smarter script would have offered enough character development to make the viewer care about the plight of the central characters and why they keep going back for more; instead, we see greed as the only motivator in their string of crimes.

On a positive note, the direction by Eric Schwab is very good. Schwabgot his start working with Brian DePalma and seems to have learned quite a bit from him in the way he moves his camera and creates atmosphere. This is a very stylish film that shows Los Angeles at its dirtiest and most desolate. There are continuity errors, however, including the climactic gunfight in which one man is hit several times, but the previous shots disappears in the edits. Schwab shows promise as a director in the car race along the Pacific Coast Highway, which offers the sort of palpable tension absent from the remainder of the film.

Performances by the largely unknown cast are on the poor side. Monet Mazur does the best work as Georgia, transformationing her character throughout the film, which is noteworthy given the material she has to work with. Giovinazzo fares worse, lacking the charisma needed to make his performance work.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 format, thie transfer shows no signs of its low budget on this new DVD. Colors are accurate and look exceptional with no bleeding, while black levels are fine with good shadow detail. There is a slight amount of grain in the nighttime scenes, but the scenes set during the day are nearly perfect. The film is thankfully free of any print flaws while sharpness and detail are of the highest quality. For the best example of the beauty of this transfer look to chapter 4, where the lush California countryside comes across as strikingly rich. This is a very fine transfer from MGM.

Also included is a slightly cropped full-screen version. Strangely, the packaging lists both as the original theatrical version. Weird.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the soundtrack lies dormant until the climactic gun fight. Dialogue is crisp and clean throughout, though at times it seems to have been mixed a bit too low as I was frequently grabbing for the remote. The rear speakers come alive in chapters 13 and 14 when the sounds of bullets and the score are nicely reproduced in the rear and front speakers.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portugeuse with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Film-themed menus and sixteen chapter stops make up the extra features for The Learning Curve.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

There is little about The Learning Curve to recommend even a rental and the high price of the disc (SRP $26.98) is not supported by a complete lack of extras. This type of story has been done better in other films (most notably Bonnie and Clyde), so pass over The Learning Curve in favor of something better in the genre.


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