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New Line Home Cinema presents
Val: I got dumped, too.
DVD ReviewHow to Lose Your Lover wants to be a hip, cynical romantic comedy about one man's efforts to reform his misbegotten life. Chronicling the romantic and professional turmoil of a mediocre biographer, Owen McCabe (Paul Schneider), writer-director Jordan Hawley fails to convey any sense of passion in his subject.
Tired of working on a book for a dishonest astronaut (Fred Willard), Owen comes to the conclusion that he must abandon his life in LA and return home to the East Coast. Burning all bridges, including severing his friendship with roommate Rob (Dorian Missick), Owen seems more like a psychotic than a disenchanted writer. Is there any real reason why he would want to purposefully enrage all those closest to him? According to the script's logic, this is supposed to make his departure all the easier (I guess simply buying a plane ticket is out of the question). Unfortunately, while waiting at the airport he runs into a former acquaintance, the beautiful Val (Jennifer Westfeldt), and the two strike an undeniable spark. Now Owen is unable to leave LA until he is absolutely sure this girl is not the one for him.
I find it rather amusing that a man who is so desperate to leave LA that he will quit his job, sell his car, and re-embrace his alcoholism, cannot bring himself to turn down a beautiful woman he just recently hooked up with. It seems that Hawley wants this to be a 21st-century Woody Allen comedy, but there's no believability to the story. A subplot concerning Owen's best friend, Allison (Poppy Montgomery), and her lesbian lover, Stephanie (Tori Spelling), only compounds the movie's misguided sense of humor. In fact, near the movie's conclusion, there's an absolutely outrageous twist to the plot concerning Allison that flatly contradicts her relationship with Stephanie.
The story's main drive focuses on Owen dating Val, being as big of a jerk as possible so that he can just drive her away. Not surprisingly, she is completely mesmerized by his honesty and the entire movie is just a collection of instances of Owen disappointed that his schemes aren't working. Scenes depicting Owen trying to offend Val's parents and arranging to have his friends insult her become tedious at best, with the exact same situation playing out every single time. The utterly unconvincing performances by Schneider and Westfeldt are not able to escape the lifeless script. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is given little more than cardboard cutouts for characters and pass by almost without notice. It is truly astonishing that Fred Willard is not in the least bit funny.
While his work as screenwriter is unimpressive, Hawley's direction is somewhat promising. He uses the camera in a relaxed, unobtrusive manner that allows the characters to take on a greater role. Granted, in How to Lose Your Lover such a decision is not to his advantage, but this kind of restrained filmmaking will prove useful with a stronger script. He also does a fine job of welcoming the audience into the atmosphere of LA, conveying a love/hate relationship with the city that provides an ambience for the movie's sound design and scenes. It is just too bad there aren't any characters worth watching.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks quite good. Skin tones are accurate and blacks have a nice texture to them. The overall image is a tad grainy, though this seems to be more a result of the source material than the actual transfer. However, the grain is never distracting and actually works to create a strong filmlike look.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is an engaging track, with the rear-channel speakers getting plenty of action during party scenes and the musical score. The dynamic range is adequate, with some nice instances of sound separation across the front sound stage. The dialogue is always audible and crisp. Nicely done.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring National Lampoon's Adam & Eve, The Thing About My Folks, Just Friends
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by J. Todd Harris, Jordan Hawley, Fred Willard
Layers Switch: 01h:04m:47s
Extras Review: Prior to the main menu, the trailers or National Lampoon's Adam and Eve, The Thing About My Folks, and Just Friends are shown in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and Dolby Stereo surround sound. Each can also be accessed through the special features menu, where you can also find seven deleted scenes (06m:03s), each presented in anamorphic widescreen. Director Jordan Hawley provides an optional commentary for each, explaining what his intentions were and why he edited them out.
Additionally, Hawley, producer J. Todd Harris, and actor Fred Willard provide an audio commentary for the feature film. Hawley and Harris are quite dry, with many moments of silence. However, Willard (who is only present for a few moments) is quite lively, even though he really doesn't provide a whole lot of information.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsA misguided effort, How to Lose Your Lover fails to deliver the laughs or the romance. This DVD contains solid image and sound transfers, but the extras are lacking.
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