Fox Lorber presents
Boston Kickout (1996)
"Oh yeah...the sit-on-your-ass-and-do-nothing method. Very popular in these parts."- Ted (Andrew Lincoln)
Stars: John Simm, Emer McCourt
Other Stars: Marc Warren, Richard Hanson, Nathan Valente
Director: Paul Hills
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, sexuality and language, and for drug use.
Run Time: 01h:47m:00s
Release Date: 2000-04-25
DVD ReviewMany times, I've found myself watching an enjoyable film only to realize it's completely different than its marketing represented it, as is the case with Boston Kickout. So prior to examining this film, I think it's important to get some things straight. First off, the cover for the film has the central character (Phil) holding a gun menacingly, with a looming city skyline behind him. At no point in the movie does Phil use, let alone wield, a gun. The film is also set in Stevenage, a small British suburb—NOT some "seedy cityscape." The keepcase description of the film states that it's "a gritty, hard edged story of four young men on the brink of self-destruction." The fact is, that the entire presentation of the film on the case is, essentially, inaccurate.
Boston Kickout is actually a sort of coming-of-age story with very modern themes. Phil (John Simm), Steve (Richard Hanson), Ted (Andrew Lincoln), and Matt (Nathan Valente) are all friends graduating from high school. Like many teenagers, though, they have a tendency toward mischievious behavior and self-destruction. While you don't feel sorry for them, they're not particularly sinister. The title Boston Kickout is a phrase the four use to reference their practice of running through their neighborhood trashing lawns and gardens. Vandalism is just one of the ridiculous things the four kids do to pass time; to make them feel as if they're not wasting their weekends.
Phil and Ted seem to want more out of life than the others, but when Ted mysteriously disappears, Phil feels abandoned. As the film progresses, it becomes obvious that family life for these kids is not entirely healthy. Each of the remaining three seems to cloak grim realities about their lives, and their flirtations with heavy drinking and drug experimentation just make things worse. Into the mix comes Robert (Marc Warren)—a violent, nasty fellow who serves as a horrible influence on the three and is easily the least likable. While the story pertains to all of the friends and how each has to figure out their own path to maturity, the bulk of the film focuses on Phil, who seems to be the most ambitious of the group. Eventually the major turn in Phil's aimless wanderings is his romantic encounter with his Irish cousin, Shona. While the affair has a dark aspect to it, it inspires Phil into thinking beyond his predicament.
If there is a significant flaw in the film, it is the amount of focus on Phil. While focusing on one teen is an effective way to tell a story, too much of the other characters' stories are left untold. The lack of detail is especially true when dealing with Steve's problems, of which we are left to infer that his breakdown is due to abuse.
Far from the kind of brooding, violent bounty the box depicts, Boston Kickout, while at times slowly paced, is actually a well-crafted, well-acted and sincere drama. Although grim, the film is not some kind of Trainspotting or Clockwork Orange clone. For the most part, these teens aren't mean-spirited characters that have detached themselves from normal life. Instead, they are simply disenchanted youths who must figure things out on their own. As I watched the film, I noticed that these fictional kids are like many people I knew at that age. So, while this kind of interesting realism helps the drama become involving, it also made it more difficult for me to watch
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: The picture is full frame, and of very high quality. High quality aside, I get the impression the film is not in its original aspect ratio, but have yet to confirm this. Some of the opening credits go off the screen, and some scenes in the film seem badly composed, with on-screen action too far off the frame. Regardless, the picture is extremely crisp and well defined. The only compression artifacts I found occur during scenes in the lush green countrysides of Stevenage and Dublin, where some of the misty, soft cinematography becomes slightly pixelated. The transfer runs at a surprisingly high bit rate (between 9.5-10mbps through the whole film).
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Despite the fact the film is a pretty slow paced drama, the Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is surprisingly lively. Almost every scene uses the surround capabilities of the fronts to great effect with background noise and ambient sound. Surround matrixing is often apparent, and there is a lot of precise imaging in the fronts, whether it is a car driving by, or a person walking across a room. The film also features a lot of music (including British band greats like Joy Division and The Stone Roses), and the music is very well balanced and represented.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
- Weblinks via DVD-ROM
- Production credits
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsI recall a lot of older Fox Lorber titles being very "low-tech," with no timing indexes, sometimes no direct scene access, etc. This title is a step up from those older titles, but it is still rough around the edges. The biggest would be the fact that a nearly 2-hour movie has only 8 chapter stops. Technical issues aside, Boston Kickout is a highly enjoyable film that would probably have garnered immense critical praise had it been more publicizedtoutside of England in 1996. While I don't know the director's true intentions with the film, I still take issue with the general marketing scheme. Boston Kickout might be a bit grim, but it certainly isn't a movie about self-destruction per se. In fact, the film reminded me a bit of the classic "disenchanted youth" story Breaking Away, except with more updated and mature themes. When some DVD titles come out, many people are disappointed with the lack of extra features so they usually wait until a better edition comes out. In the case of Boston Kickout, I can't wait until Fox Lorber re-releases this film with more accurate cover art and a less misleading description. Recommended.
Dan Lopez 2000-05-28