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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Gray Matters (2006)

"You want to know something; I've even seen them share the same toothbrush."
- Carrie (Molly Shannon)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: June 19, 2007

Stars: Heather Graham, Tom Cavanagh, Bridget Moynahan
Other Stars: Molly Shannon, Alan Cumming, Sissy Spacek, Rachel Shelley
Director: Sue Kramer

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (some mature thematic material, sexual content, and language)
Run Time: 01h:36m:32s
Release Date: June 19, 2007
UPC: 024543434665
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B D+B+B- D+

DVD Review

Heather Graham and Tom Cavanagh have enjoyed early success, yet struggle to find their niche more recently in their respective careers. Graham has toiled mightily since her star-making turn in Boogie Nights, while Cavanagh can't catch a break following the cancellation of his hit TV series Ed. Still, both actors have had their chances, with the latest opportunity finding them co-starring in the little-seen feature Gray Matters, which comes to us courtesy of Fox.

Gray (Graham) and Sam (Cavanagh) are extremely close siblings that share everything. They live like a married couple, jogging together daily, preparing lavish, planned dinners, and are virtually inseparable. Things change when someone at a dinner party mistakes them for a romantic couple, causing Gray to take a close look at their respective love lives, or lack thereof. The next day, in the park, they spot Charlie (Bridget Moynahan), a gorgeous dog-walker who is new to the city, prompting Sam to suggest a night on the town. Gray tags along and it's love at first sight between Charlie and Sam. Soon, the trio are off to Vegas for an impromptu wedding, but after a mini-bachelorette party and drunken kiss, Gray realizes that she may be in love with Charlie too.

Despite a charming premise and quirky casting, this film never quite finds itself. Beginning as an intriguing tale of adult brother and sister roommates, it doesn't take long before things take a huge turn for the worse. While I was hoping for a daring yet funny story of two siblings who seemed closer than usual, what's here is far too formulaic and just plain boring. The concept is fairly original, but a neat idea spirals into the endless abyss of romantic comedy fluff without a second thought. The key dynamic of the Gray character never feels forced, it just never quite fits, leading to a series of preposterous set pieces that are hampered even further by some truly awful performances.

It's not surprising that Graham is the main culprit guilty of pedestrian acting, but she's not the only one at fault. Cavanagh has a single expression and tone of voice that's never changed since his Ed days, and Molly Shannon is more annoying than ever. It's only Alan Cumming, playing against type as a heterosexual confidant, who excels, taking a clichéd role and making it as original as possible. Moynahan is relegated to eye candy, but she unexpectedly disappears throughout most of the final half hour. We're given almost nothing in the way of resolution in regards to her character, which isn't as disheartening as it would have been had Charlie been better developed.

At this point in the history of cinema, the romantic comedy genre has been run into the ground over and over again. Therefore, it takes something truly special for such films to even have a chance at succeeding these days. I'm not a huge fan of the cast, but I really wanted this to work after the fun first 15 minutes roped me in. First-time writer/director Sue Kramer shows some potential with the first act alone, but as soon as Charlie is introduced (not Moynahan's fault in the slightest), the movie falls apart. Thus begins Graham's overacting, Cavanagh's near disappearance, and the film's slow descent into romantic comedy hell.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is impressive, projecting sharp, detailed images and bright colors. The overall cheery palette is enhanced by some starkly realized location footage. There is a bit of grain and a few specks of dirt, but this is otherwise blemish-free.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is far from dynamic but nicely suited for the comedic material. The rear speakers only come to life for a few music cues, as everything else stays up front. Dialogue is always crisp and easy to understand, working well with the rest of the mix at all times.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Illusionist, Winter Passing, Find Me Guilty, Haven
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The only extras are The Making of Gray Matters, an extended trailer masquerading as a three-minute featurette, the actual theatrical trailer for Gray Matters, and some previews for other Fox Video releases.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

The words "original" and "romantic comedy" haven't gone hand-in-hand for ages, and Gray Matters is no exception. Almost nothing works in this over-long, overwrought story, that isn't helped at all by a collection of campy performances. Fox's DVD is nothing special either, despite rather impressive audio and video presentations.

 


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