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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Chuck & Buck (2000)

"I kinda want to talk to Charlie right now. But thanks for talking to me."
- Buck (Mike White)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: December 29, 2000

Stars: Mike White, Chris Weitz
Other Stars: Lupe Ontiveros, Paul Weitz, Beth Colt
Director: Miguel Arteta

Manufacturer: speeDVD
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and language
Run Time: 01h:35m:37s
Release Date: December 19, 2000
UPC: 012236113560
Genre: comedy


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

DVD Review

Chuck & Buck tells the story of Chuck (Chris Weitz), a successful L.A. entertainment executive, and Buck (Mike White), his sheltered, immature childhood friend. When Buck's mother passes away, he invites Chuck and his fiancée Carlyn (Beth Colt) to the funeral and begins trying to re-establish a friendship with his former best friend. Chuck becomes increasingly uncomfortable with Buck's awkward overtures as he attempts to rekindle the fire of the boys' youthful experimentation. With the help of neophyte director Beverly Franco (Lupe Ontiveros), Buck mounts a production of a bizarre, obviously autobiographical fairy-tale play entitled "Hank and Frank" at the theatre across the street from Chuck's office. Tensions build as Chuck avoids the past and Buck denies the present.

Miguel Arteta's low-budget film was written by Mike White, who also assays the role of the socially inept manchild Buck. White's performance is fascinating to watch—he's the most sympathetic stalker you'll ever see onscreen. His obsession is scary but somehow comprehensible, and his matter-of-fact sexuality is refreshing, neither coquettish nor demanding but painful in its unrequited neediness. American Pie Producer Chris Weitz is a bit stiff onscreen, but he fits the role well and his performance communicates Chuck's exasperation while recognizing his conflicted feelings towards Buck. Supporting performances, largely by non-actors, are surprisingly warm and credible, with great work by Lupe Ontiveros, Beth Colt and especially Paul Weitz as the aggressively lousy actor Sam, who appears in Buck's play as Chuck's fictional alter ego.

Arteta approaches the story with intimate camerawork, dominated by closeups and well-composed two-shots detailing characters' feelings and reactions. He's not afraid of contemplative pauses, and he gives his actors plenty of time to work onscreen. Lighting is sometimes harsh, but the visuals aren't nearly as important as the performances here, and Arteta handles the delicate material with sensitivity and comedic subtlety. Scenes of Buck's "homoerotic, misogynistic play" (in Beverly's words) provide a lot of laughs while documenting Buck's barely-recognized emotions in no uncertain terms, and the film successfully walks this thin line between comedy and drama with nary a misstep.

Some viewers may be uncomfortable with the film's premise—gay obsession with a childhood buddy skates perilously close to the darker side of human sexuality, and Buck's involvement with the children's theatre where he leases space for his production only arouses further suspicion. The film's saving grace is its sweet, optimistic bent; a hopefulness that keeps it from sinking into TV movie melodrama, even when Buck is at his lowest ebb and seems on the verge of taking rash, irreversible action. The film ultimately makes a positive statement about sexuality and maturation, and thoroughly shames the viewer's conditioned assumptions. Funny and genuinely thought-provoking, Chuck & Buck sticks in the brain and the heart, not in the throat.

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

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.77:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Chuck & Buck is presented in anamorphically-enhanced 1.77:1, matching its original widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. The film was shot on high-definition digital video and transferred to 35mm film for theatrical release, so the image tends to be grainy, contrasty and noisy with a few scan-line "stairstepping" artifacts on thin, curved edges. Color is reasonably solid and the image is generally free of excessive edge enhancement, but its low-budget video origins are evident.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Artisan presents Chuck & Buck with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio track. The sound is generally centered, with a bit of stereo separation for music and no rear speaker activity to speak of. It's a low-budget film with a dialogue-heavy soundtrack, but frequency range is competent and Gwendolyn Sanford's infectious pop tune "Freedom of the Heart" comes through loud and clear, though neither it nor the rest of the soundtrack make use of the low end of the frequency spectrum. Not a grandiose soundtrack by any means, but consistently crisp and clean.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Director Miguel Arteta and Writer/Actor Mike White; D.A. Ruben Fleischer and Key Grip Doug Kieffer
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Games We Used to Play
Extras Review: Artisan pumps up the extras for Chuck & Buck, starting with nicely designed menus in the style of Buck's colorful photo collages and 32 picture-menu chapter stops (whose menus also include behind-the-scenes scrapbook photos). Substantial supplements include:

Theatrical Trailer:

The theatrical trailer is presented in 1.77:1 non-anamorphic, drawn directly from the original high-definition video footage rather than the film-transferred version. Unfortunately, this tends to cheapen the overall look, but the trailer is appropriately structured and doesn't give too much away.

Games We Used to Play:

A neat idea, this section presents detailed rules for eight popular children's games, including Spin the Bottle, Dodgeball, Hopscotch and other favorites in a straightforward, innuendo-free manner.

Cast & Crew:

Nicely-written biographies and selected filmographies for 9 cast members and 14 crew.

Director/Writer Commentary:

Director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter/star Mike White provide a running commentary, though they seem loathe to interrupt their favorite moments and often go silent during key dialogue sequences. White seems nervous and remarkably "Buckish," and Arteta focuses his discussion on favorite shots and subtleties; the track is entertaining enough to listen to, but short on substance.

An Insider's View Commentary:

Director's Assistant Ruben Fleischer and Key Grip Doug Kieffer provide an alternate commentary track, more consistent and in many ways more interesting than the Arteta/White commentary. Their comments provide a wealth of technical information and story insight, and serve as a welcome reminder that any film's "unknown soldiers" make significant contributions to the finished product.

Deleted Scenes:

Six deleted scenes are available, with optional commentary by Arteta and White. The commentary is sparse and doesn't interfere much with the dialogue, so it's convenient to watch with the alternate audio turned on. These are generally brief scenes not included in the film, with one extended scene; they're interesting enough, but not sorely missed in the final film.

Production Notes:

Copious text-screen notes on the project's genesis and production, well-written and informative.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Chuck & Buck is a dark but optimistic comedy about sexual obsession, memories, regrets, and growing up. Artisan's DVD is chock-full of extras, though the low-budget film suffers in the image department. The subject matter is bound to put some people off, but it's a worthwhile little film that has quite a bit to say. Recommended.

 


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