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MGM Studios DVD presents

Deal of a Lifetime (1999)

Henry: "What would you do if somebody you didn't know suddenly gave you everything that you ever wanted?"
Foster: "Like an episode of Genie?
Henry: "Well, yeah. Kinda. Sorta."
Foster: "Is she wearing one of those little harem things? If she is, I'm gonna have to think about it."

Stars: Kevin Pollack, Michael Goorjian
Other Stars: Jennifer Rubin, Shiri Appleby
Director: Paul Levine

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for language and mild sex-related content
Run Time: 01h:34m:22s
Release Date: 2000-10-31
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

There are certain movies that are derided for some reason or another that have so many likeable qualities that they become cult classics anyway. Movies like Kull the Conqueror, Mystery Men or even The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Deal of a Lifetime is not one of those movies. It is so terrible that words cannot begin to describe the horror. But, I saw Kevin Pollack in drag, and I don't want it to have been for nothing. I hope you people appreciate this.

Henry Spooner (Michael Goorjian) is your typical high school loser. And of course, as typical high school losers tend to do, he is in love with the most popular girl in school. Apparently, Henry never encountered the phrase "out of your league." He makes the mistake (and what a mistake) of saying he'd sell his soul for a date with that girl, Laurie Pelter (Shiri Appleby from Roswell). Who should show up but Jerry Dante (Kevin Pollack), the mincing fey servant of the big man downstairs himself, Bob. Yes, the ruler of all things evil is named Bob.

It seems Bob has been unhappy with Jerry's soul-intake lately, and Henry is his last chance to avoid eternal suffering. Actual, suffering and hell in this movie is basically just office paperwork - Of course, if Dilbert has taught us anything, office work on earth is pretty much hell, so - Anyway, Jerry has to discover that he doesn't need help from the minions of the night, he just has to believe in himself. It also helps to be a character in a movie, where the geek always gets the girl. Hollywood, why do you mock me?

This was the first film from director Paul Levine and writer Katherine Sloan. I'm guessing it will probably be that duo's last. Sloan's script is so derivative and boring that I had to take muscle relaxants to keep from straining my eyes due to the constant rolling the film induced. And hell is so unorganized and meek, that I had trouble imagining that these are the guys responsible for the eternal war for men's souls. Take Jerry for instance. He's trying to get Henry to sign away his soul. To entice him, he proceeds to give Henry everything he wants before he has him sign on the dotted line. Before?! What an idiot. Duh, why would he give you his eternal soul when you already gave him the goods? Hey, if all that is demonic in the world amounts to a few guys in a basement filing papers, then I feel pretty good about my afterlife.

The direction is even worse. I don't know where Levine got his start, but it screams TV to me (likely late night cable access TV). Ignore the poor pacing, choppy editing, frequent continuity errors and constant, annoying and amateurish dissolves, and just focus on the scene where Jerry is sitting up in a tree, lilting and mugging for the camera. Jerry slips, and ends up hanging by his feet - except that instead of actually having the actor hang upside down, Levine decided it would be better to just turn the camera upside down! I suppose the fact that you can still clearly see that he is standing on the ground just didn't concern the great Paul Levine.

The acting here is pretty much on your basic high school play level. All of the "teen" actors (average age: 25) sound very forced and unnatural, and none were particularly likeable. Well, that is, except Shiri Appleby as Laurie. Shiri is so adorable in this film! That's how I like 'em. Good natured and wholesome. Thank you, Shiri, for helping me to survive this movie. Oh, and for you MTV fans—Alex Solowitz, who plays tough guy Mickey on the boy-band farce 2Gether has a small role as - a tough guy!

Kevin Pollack was so bad he deserves his own paragraph. Before this film, I had only seen him in The Usual Suspects. Of course, there he was fantastic, so here I was expecting a fun bit of overacting, sort of like Pachino in The Devil's Advocate. Unfortunately, what we get is more Paul Rubens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Throughout the course of the film, you see Pollack in drag (twice!), disguised as a salad bar, posing as an ice-cream man, prancing as some sort of elfly sprite, and looking utterly ridiculous as a fashion designer. And trust me, this isn't as fun as it sounds. Pollack doesn't throw himself into his role and make it absurdly funny; he just wears the costumes and says the lines. It gets more embarrassing by the minute, and I really wonder what crime Pollack committed to be forced to do this film, since this was clearly done as some sort of community service.

Do not watch this film if you have violent tendencies. It may cause you to lose control and hunt down Paul Levine and everyone else associated with this film (except Shiri!) and kill them, slowly and painfully. With a sharp stick of some sort perhaps. Or a spork. Deal of a Lifetime never received a theatrical release. Good. I'm glad. This film hurt me. Don't let it hurt you too.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The full frame transfer presented here is of varying quality. Colors are generally bright and well-saturated, but in some scenes later in the film they look really washed out (almost as if they ran out of money and had to finish the film on video). The print used showed several scratches and pops, and there was an inexcusable amount of grain present, especially in darker scenes. I noticed no edge-enhancement, but that was probably just because the picture is so fuzzy and soft.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track included here is OK. Dialogue is anchored in the center channel and is always clear. The surrounds are mostly silent except for a few songs and the score. Serviceable, but unimpressive. Still, the movie doesn't call for many great effects.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, French with remote access
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: MGM declined to include any extras on Deal of a Lifetime. No trailer, no nothing. And dangit, I so wanted that two disc special edition!

Extras Grade: D-

Final Comments

I don't think I could in good conscience recommend Deal of a Lifetime to anyone without feeling incredibly guilty. Only rent it if you want to lose all respect for Kevin Pollack. You'll never see The Usual Suspects the same way again.

Joel Cunningham 2000-10-25