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Fox Lorber presents
Wirey Spindell (1999)

"You need to stop talking now."
- Tabatha (Callie Thorne)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: November 21, 2000

Stars: Eric Schaeffer, Callie Thorne, Eric Mabius
Other Stars: Samantha Buck, Zane Adlum
Director: Eric Schaeffer

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, strong sexual situations, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:39m:39s
Release Date: October 03, 2000
UPC: 720917524122
Genre: comedy


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

DVD Review

Wirey Spindell's title character (played by writer/director Eric Schaeffer) is a confused thirtysomething New Yorker on the brink of matrimony who finds himself unable to make love to his fiancée, Tabatha (Callie Thorne). This difficulty prompts him to reexamine his sex life from age 7 on, a process that he hopes will bring him to an understanding of himself and a revival of his physical interest in Tabatha.

The bulk of the film is occupied by reenactments of Wirey's various sexual escapades, including relatively innocent homosexual exploration with neighbor boys; necking in the school auditorium in grade school; sexual flings with various girls; his first emotionally intense relationship in college with a girl named Samantha (Samantha Buck); and his relationship with Tabatha, the woman he asks to marry him. There are some interesting vignettes about other aspects of Wirey's life and maturation, but most of the film revolves around sex. Unfortunately, many of these incidents seem like filler; they're not outrageous or familiar enough to evoke laughter or other strong emotions, though some produce a vague sense of voyeuristic discomfort, and Wirey's frequent lack of emotional investment makes them uninteresting overall.

Wirey's embarrassing and erotic memories are trotted out for our amusement while his life crumbles around him, and just when everything seems about to collapse, he has an emotional revelation and declares himself "fixed". And that's about all that happens here. Writer/director/star Eric Schaeffer's filmmaking skills are undeniable; his script is frank and his visuals rather explicit, and his choices are often daring, particularly in a voice-over by Wiley's 7-year-old self talking about sexual practices with which some adults may not be familiar. His low-budget cinematography is nicely composed and lit, and he works well with actors judging from the performances on view here. Schaeffer knows how to tell a story on film; this just isn't a great story to tell, and its intended point gets lost among its sexual fixations, making for an unsatisfying, somehow unfinished experience.

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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Fox Lorber presents Wirey Spindell in its original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, with a non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer. The source print has some dirt flecking here and there, and the transfer has a soft appearance in many scenes. Black level is solid, though colors seem a bit off, especially where skin tones are concerned. Detail is not bad despite a general "laserdisc" look, and the image is free of artificial edge enhancement, but the layer change is awkwardly placed and the transfer is not up to contemporary DVD standards for such a recent film.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Wirey Spindell features two audio tracks, a Dolby 2.0 Surround mix and a Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer. Neither track is particularly enveloping; dialogue is centered with the score in stereo, and the surrounds go largely unused. The soundtrack is dialogue-heavy, with few moments demanding dramatic audio effects, and the inclusion of a 5.1 mix appears to be driven more by marketing considerations than by the film itself. Frequency range is sufficient to handle Amanda Kravat's effective score and dialogue is generally clear and comprehensible, making for an unspectacular but competent audio presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Eric Schaeffer and Composer Amanda Kravat
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:00m:05s

Extra Extras:
  1. Production Credits
  2. Weblinks
Extras Review: The Wirey Spindell DVD features 16 full-motion menu chapter stops and a substantial set of supplements (especially by Fox Lorber standards):

Filmographies:

Comprehensive text-screen filmographies (with no biographical information) on director/writer/star Eric Schaeffer and cast members Callie Thorne, Eric Mabius and Samantha Buck.

Production Credits:

Three text screens of credits, including a Cast List, Production personnel list and DVD credits (oddly truncated, listing only the Executive Producers).

Trailer:

The film's original trailer is presented in a rather soft-looking 1.33:1 full-frame transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio; it's a PG-13 sort of trailer, with some words bleeped out and others left in.

Commentary:

Writer/director/star Eric Schaeffer and composer Amanda Kravat provide a running commentary on the film. Schaeffer is quite forthcoming about production gaffes, budget/time constraints, performance details and the film's basis in his own life, and Kravat is the perfect foil, asking the right questions with perfect timing. There's no significant "dead air" and the commentary is informative, funny and quite entertaining (though it occasionally wanders off topic).

Weblinks:

Fox Lorber provides links to two related Websites, the Winstar/Fox Lorber DVD Newsletter Subscription site and the Wirey Spindell Sex Quiz. A DVD-ROM HTML file is provided, as well as on-screen URLs for stand-alone players.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Wirey Spindell takes a frank, occasionally entertaining look at its title character's sex life but ultimately comes up short. Fox Lorber's DVD features a decent transfer and more substantial supplements than the studio's usual product, but the film seems self-indulgent and overly drawn-out. A rental at best.

 


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