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Warner Home Video presents
Duck Season (2004)

"All this mess for brownies?!"
- Flama's mom (Carolina Politi)

Review By: Ross Johnson   
Published: August 29, 2006

Stars: Enrique Arreola, Diego Catano, Daniel Miranda, Danny Perea, Carolina Politi
Director: Fernando Eimbcke

MPAA Rating: R for language and some drug content
Run Time: 01h:31m:00s
Release Date: August 29, 2006
UPC: 012569403222
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-BB+ C

DVD Review

Some of the best, funniest, coolest films of the past several years have come out of Mexico. I’m thinking of All About My Mother, Amores Perros, Y tu mamá también. If those titles mean nothing to you, and the Spanish reads like gibberish, believe me, I feel you. Nevertheless, you’re missing out. You really are. Mexico is where the action is these days. The only danger is that the proximity to the border seems to be drawing some of these directors to Hollywood, with mixed results. También's Alfonso Cuarón is probably best known for the third Harry Potter. While it's far and away the best of those movies, I hope that Hollywood realizes that he has more than genre sequels in him. I bring him up not only because he's a producer of Duck Season, but because his body of work is a great example of one of the things that's so right about much of Mexican filmmaking: what these films pull off is a treatment of teenagers that's more realistic, and better than pretty much anything you'll see in American films. Fernando Eimbcke's Duck Season works because it's a film about adolescents that's not a kid's movie: it isn't dumbed down to appeal to younger audiences and it isn't watered down to be safe for adults who can't quite deal with young people as people.

It's a quiet Sunday at Flama's. His mom is away, and his friend Moko is hanging out. Their ambitions don't go much beyond playing X-Box (which falls apart when the power goes out) and ordering pizza, and indeed little else transpires. The neighbor girl, Rita, comes by to bake herself birthday brownies, and the pizza guy winds up staying much longer than planned. Though the characters are instantly appealling, and the young actors are spot-on as bored teenagers, the whole thing starts out really, really, slowly. The problem with meditating on the joys and pitfalls of a long, nothing-to-do day is that it takes a very clever creator to make it interesting. It picks up around the midway point, though, as sheer boredom (and an extra ingredient in the brownies) starts to wear everyone down and emotions crowd to the surface, while our pizza guy, Ulises, begins to appreciate the virtue in telling the boss off. He'’s a phenomenal character: at first easily dismissible as a loser, before long you're rooting for him. I think a lot of us would look like dorks if we wandered into a movie (I know that I would), so it's nice to see a dork given the benefit of the doubt. He even winds up with a bit of a quest, so his name is probably no coincidence.

Like any really great lazy day, the sum develops into more than the total of its moments. Without ever being pushed very hard, and without anything much actually happening, we get scenes that are poignant, funny, and, once or twice, heartbreaking. The light touch and trim running time work, and I cared about all of the characters without ever feeling manipulated. It may not be a masterpiece, but it gets right so many of the things that movies usually get wrong. It's impossible not to commend for that alone. (Oh, and if you pick this up, by all means stick around through the closing credits).

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


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The black-and-white Duck Season is clearly not a big-budget extravaganza. Despite quite a bit of grain, though, the disc presentation isn't bad and probably compares favorably to the film's original release. There's some mild haloing during transitional shots, but otherwise the black/white contrast is good and everything is fairly sharp.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishno

Audio Transfer Review: The soundtrack here is rather subdued: it's just not a loud or sound-effects-driven movie, and it is full of quiet moments. That understood, the Dolby 2.0 track is just fine. I watched with English subtitles, and while Spanish-speakers might find more to complain about, for my purposes the dialogue seemed clear and other sounds and occasional music were crisp.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: All you get is the film's theatrical trailer. It's cute.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Duck Season takes its time getting moving, and nothing much really happens. On that level, it works spectacularly. Like a teenage Mexican Clerks, it's a celebration of slacking off, but manages some insight nonetheless. Do you need to own this disc? Probably not, especially without any extras to speak of. It's absolutely worth at least a rental, though. Perhaps on a quiet Sunday afternoon...


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