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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Waydowntown (2000)

"Say, Bradley, I calculated for me to work here to my retirement in 40-odd years, I'm gonna have to come down here approximately 10,000 times. You've worked here for what, 20 years? That means this is, like, your 5,000th visit. Guy, you're halfway home."
- Tom (Fabrizio Filippo)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: March 16, 2005

Stars: Fabrizio Filippo, Don McKellar, Marya Delver, Gordon Currie
Other Stars: Tammy Isbell, Jennifer Clement, Tobias Godson
Director: Gary Burns

MPAA Rating: R for language, drug use and some sexuality
Run Time: 01h:22m:40s
Release Date: March 15, 2005
UPC: 037429204429
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ C+BB+ C+

DVD Review

For those held captive within the concrete jungle, work can sometimes be equated to a prolonged form of torture. It's a necessary evil for some. There are times when we all have to work jobs we do not enjoy to turn a buck; the hope is that it doesn't become a career. If you're one of the many who counts the seconds to freedom each work day, movies like the cult favorite Office Space resonate greatly. Yes, I've worked various jobs, but none so stifling as the poor souls in Waydowntown; perhaps this is why the film simply rubbed me the wrong way.

Fellow employees Tom (Fabrizio Filippo), Sandra (Marya Delver), Randy (Tobias Godson), and Curt (Gordon Currie) are in a cruel competition. Each has staked a month's salary on who can stay inside the longest. Skyways interconnect their workplace with restaurants, stores, and apartments; each player's residence is attached to this chain of glassy walkways. Theoretically, none of them would actually have to go outside until they retire. It is a situation on a collision course with insanity, but our protagonist, the "good guy" Tom, is confident. A little pot in his car takes the edge off, but his competition has plenty of strategy. The smarmy Curt, for instance, won such a competition in college; he didn't go outside for an entire year. Nevertheless, a lack of fresh air takes its toll.

Sandra is having a hard time, as well. Her job as a new trainee is to follow her kleptomaniac boss around the various shopping venues downtown, and either return or pay for what he steals. This nervous energy is exacerbated by the thought of breathing recycled air all day long; something Tom reminds her of frequently. Other employees are finding their own paths to depression and/or suicide: "Sadly I'm" Bradley (Don McKellar) is a 20-year veteran who has suddenly lost it, stapling corporate slogans to his chest and preparing to jump out a window via the help of a soda bottle filled with marbles. As Tom gets intertwined with the complexities of Sandra's tasks, Bradley's neurosis, and the heat of competition, the air is becoming more stale, and sanity more remote.

Waydowntown tries very hard to take a witty, Kevin Smith-esque angle on interoffice conflict, but ultimately comes off as grating. Canadian director Gary Burns' use of digital video has some interesting hues, but his editing is extremely choppy, gimmicky, and devoid of flow. There is a certain amount of value in making your audience sympathize with a character's strife through the visceral power of cinema, but this went a bit too far; like the worker bees depicted, I was ready to run for the door. Disorienting, to say the least.

Aside from a couple clever moments, the script came off as very written and unnatural. The skilled cast seems to struggle with some of these all-too-quippy lines, as if they too realize the unnatural timbre of the dialogue. (Do Canadians use the term "guy" in place of "man"? For a second, I thought the character names were uncreative.) Strangely enough, the story begins well into the aforementioned bet, depriving us of the tension that could have been built from start to finish. We should have followed the competition all the way through. Instead, we are given a limited time frame where nothing much occurs, accentuated by strange continuity errors that seemed to be by design, but were ultimately distracting.

I admire the fact that Burns is trying something new here; there are some unique visual gags that crop up here and there. This film may simply be lost on me; I just didn't click with its showy style, though all you office workers out there may feel differently. Watching this made me deathly afraid of a cubicle, though.

Perhaps that was the mission.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Surprisingly, the 1.78:1 image is nonanamophic. Home Vision is a victim of the provided source material here; they always provide anamorphic content if possible. This is by no means a bad image, however, showcasing good detail and bold colors, preserving the unique and sometimes grungy look of the digital video. Digital edginess is a non-issue.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio is nicely immersive. The surrounds are used for ambiance and musical score support, to great effect. Don't expect any obvious discrete action, but you'll certainly want to choose this mix over the included stereo track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert with an essay by Mark Peranson
Extras Review: Extras include the film's theatrical trailer and a reel of behind-the-scenes footage (8m:30s). This is a nice little bit of raw on-set video that shows the cast and crew at work, without the fluffy padding of interviews or clips. I far prefer this kind of presentation; we get a nice glimpse into the director's process.

Finally, an insert with an informative, background-heavy essay by Mark Peranson rounds out the package.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Gary Burns' take on corporate claustrophobia comes off as irritating, but takes some welcome risks. Home Vision's presentation is very good, as usual.

 


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