follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Universal Studios Home Video presents
Prime (2005)

Rafi: I was married to a man who couldn't love me, and now I'm with someone who can love me, but he's not really a man...at least not all the time.
Lisa: I can see that.

- Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: March 05, 2006

Stars: Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Bryan Greenberg
Other Stars: Jon Abrahams
Director: Ben Younger

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and dialogue, and for language
Run Time: 01h:45m:28s
Release Date: March 07, 2006
UPC: 025192630620
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-A-B+ B-

DVD Review

Prime bills itself as a romantic comedy, but despite a few laugh-out-loud moments, it follows the arc of a more traditional, bittersweet love story. That's not a problem in and of itself (I mean, do we really need another stale, clichéd date flick?), but writer-director Ben Younger, like his heroine, has trouble committing to a clear-cut path, and as a result, his film suffers from a bad case of ennui. Both the comedy and drama seem forced, and the belabored storytelling drags the whole enterprise on far too long. Prime should be slick, snappy, and liberating, but Younger, in his valiant attempt to add depth and poignancy, sucks the life force out of his tale.

The premise—newly divorced, middle-aged hottie gets her groove back with a charmingly immature 23-year-old hunk—is rife with comic potential, but Younger only realizes a fraction of it. Uma Thurman plays Rafi, the mixed up protagonist who spills her guts once a week to her empathetic and encouraging therapist, Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep). In typical Woody Allen fashion, she meets her nice Jewish boy-toy, David Bloomberg (Bryan Greenberg), while queuing up to see a revival of Antonioni's Blow-Up at a Greenwich Village theater. Sparks fly, sex and romance quickly follow, and Rafi can't wait to tell Lisa all the intimate details. (She even provides an impassioned description of David's "beautiful" genitalia.) But when she discovers David still plays Nintendo and lives with his grandparents, she sees their 14-year age difference as a gaping generation gap, and wonders if their love can overcome it. Meanwhile, Lisa puts two-and-two together, and in a horrific silent epiphany, realizes Rafi's David and her own son David are one and the same.

The bombshell sends Lisa running to her own shrink for advice. With misgivings, she keeps mum, and continues to counsel Rafi in the hope her affair with David will soon blow over. Yet as the relationship lingers and becomes more serious, Lisa has trouble holding her tongue, as well as refraining from using her professional influence to steer Rafi away from her son.

Such explosive secrets usually detonate in a big way, but Younger seems reluctant to light the fuse. As a result, Prime has no real payoff. There's no satisfying climax, and the story just peters out, leaving us to shrug our shoulders and wonder why we invested so much time in the characters. Younger obviously reveres Woody Allen, and sets up the film as something of a homage to the director, but he only gives us sporadic laughs, and soon steers Prime onto a more introspective path. That's okay for a while, but when the movie doesn't come full circle, we feel cheated. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for realism, and don't much care for fairy tale, Pretty Woman endings, but it takes a sure hand and deft skill to flip the romantic comedy genre on its ear, and Younger doesn't yet possess the directorial chops to get away with it. (I do, however, like the movie's authentic New York feel—another way in which it's Allen-esque.)

Thurman, a last-minute replacement for Sandra Bullock (who reportedly backed out over script issues), is natural and likeable, and Greenberg supplies the requisite boyish charm, but Streep, as always, is the one to watch. Her marvelous facial expressions milk more laughs than Younger's dialogue, and her faint New York accent and fidgety mannerisms conjure up memories of her own Rachel Samstat from Heartburn two decades ago. Streep has always struggled to find good light-hearted vehicles, and unfortunately, Prime is another misfire. As usual, she gives every scene her all, but despite top billing, Younger unfairly relegates her to the supporting ranks in the film's second half. (Memo to Ben: You've got Meryl Streep. Use her!) Lisa is by far the film's most interesting character, and the way she interacts with her patient and son after learning of their affair forms Prime's comic crux, but Younger stubbornly resists exploiting that aspect of the story, and instead focuses to excess on the more bland Rafi and David. Obviously, Universal marketing executives recognized the blunder, for they craftily (if misleadingly) structure the film's trailer as a Streep showcase.

If only Prime could be just that.

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


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Like most recent releases, Prime sports a spotless transfer featuring warm, rich colors, vibrant contrast, and excellent clarity. Fleshtones look true and natural, and any digital tinkering escapes notice.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 mix remains front-heavy, although few opportunities for surround activity exist in this dialogue-driven film. Still, the atmospherics of New York City don't envelop like they should, although separation across the front channels is crisp and distinct. Conversations are generally clear, and the music tracks Younger employs seamlessly integrate into the whole.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Pride and Prejudice, Windfall, Just Like Heaven, Something New
11 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by writer-director Ben Younger and producer Jennifer Todd
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:02m:59s

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes
Extras Review: Prime comes primed with plenty of extras, beginning with a genial but empty commentary by Younger and producer Jennifer Todd. The two trade friendly jabs and seem to genuinely enjoy watching their film, but relay little substantive information. They cite the authentic New York locations, point out when their buddies appear as extras, and fess up to a couple of continuity errors, but too much idle chatter clutters the track. We hear nothing about Sandra Bullock's initial involvement and why she pulled out, nor do we get much background info on the script or filmmakers. Younger and Todd rightfully and effusively praise Streep, joke about their Jewish heritage, and recount a couple of anecdotes, but they hardly make the commentary a worthwhile investment.

Prime-Time Players, an eight-minute featurette, covers much the same territory in far less time. Though little more than a behind-the-scenes testimonial, it includes a few insightful remarks and allows Younger, Todd, Streep, Thurman, and Greenberg to express themselves on camera. Streep lauds Younger's mature directing style and ability to accept input from the cast, while Younger recalls his embarrassing initial introduction to the two-time Oscar-winner on set. A few film clips and a healthy dose of production footage enhances this breezy piece.

Up next is an eight-minute reel of 11 negligible but intriguing deleted scenes and snippets, followed by three-and-a-half minutes of outtakes, one of which is truly hilarious. A few trailers round out the supplements.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Prime only comes alive when Meryl Streep is on screen, and sadly, that's just not often enough. This May-August romance never maximizes its comic potential, and limps to a so-what conclusion long after we've lost interest. Universal supplies a fine transfer and good spate of extras, but they're not enough to merit a recommendation. Streep fans, however, may get a kick out of a rental.


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store