MGM Studios DVD presents
Pop & Me (1999)
"The best thing that could happen to me is that my kid should feel as good about me as I do about my Dad."- Steve Hart
Stars: Richard Roe, Chris Roe
Other Stars: Julian Lennon
Director: Chris Roe
Manufacturer: Sunset Digital
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief drug content
Run Time: 01h:32m:18s
Release Date: 2000-12-19
DVD ReviewPop & Me is a documentary by first-time filmmaker Chris Roe, filmed during a trip around the world with his father (and first-time producer) Richard. The filmmakers interview a number of fathers and sons during their travels, building a complex, universal picture of parent-child relationships while providing an extended look at their own relationship during the process.
There haven't been many films made about healthy father-son relationships, and the documentary form provides a surprisingly fresh take on the subject. The Roes seem to have a typical intrafamily relationship, generally supportive and loving but sprinkled with a few intense conflicts, and their onscreen relationship provides a throughline for the movie. Chris' brothers join their fellow Roe menfolk for parts of the trip, providing a bit of family context and contrast. Travel arrangements, technical difficulties, and artistic issues provide plenty of fight fodder for Chris and Richard, though there's never any question that they really do love each other; the intimate, subjective approach occasionally seems gimmicky but keeps the film from ever becoming dry or academic.
The short interviews they conduct with the people they meet along the way are consistently interesting and often very emotional—guys may not talk about their feelings very often, but when they do so seriously, they tear up pretty readily. Most of the interviews include fathers and sons, speaking in each other's presence, and this approach lends a little tension to the discussions—it's interesting to see varying degrees of reserve and machismo slowly giving way as one participant, then the other, opens up. Musician Julian Lennon appears to talk about his relationship (or lack thereof) with his famous Beatle father John, who separated from his mother when he was young, and he comes off as intelligent and mature (if a little self-censoring where language is concerned). An Egyptian general fights his emotions as his son expresses his gratitude and love out loud, a strict Indian father considers his thoughts for a long while before telling his son he will always be there for him, and an Australian father and son refuse to hug, citing such nonsense as a "wussy American" behavior.
Pop & Me doesn't impress technically—its handheld camera shots are frequently shaky and mis-framed, with heads cut off and speakers offscreen, and anyone who found The Blair Witch Project physically uncomfortable to watch may want to steer clear. Chris Roe uses a few MTV-ish techniques too many in the transitions between segments, and there's a definite "first film" quality about the whole endeavor. But that's no reason to skip this unique, emotionally involving, universally resonant survey of male parent-child relationships. You've quite probably never seen anything like it, except in your own life.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Pop & Me is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The low-budget film was shot on videotape and 16mm film, with the final edit transferred to 35mm film for theatrical distribution and the DVD release. The source print is clean and the digital-layer transfer seems solid, though fundamental source limitations are much in evidence: scan line resolution issues, excessive edge enhancement and red/blue color artifacting on the video footage; heavy grain and end-of-reel overexposure on the 16mm shots; and generally muted, unstable color throughout. But this is a documentary, and the imagery gets the film's point across.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: MGM presents Pop & Me in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround. The film's general character is monophonic, as is typical for documentary material, with music spread subtly around the soundstage for a bit of ambience. Much of the on-location interview audio contains "live" background noise and atmospheric hum, and volume varies quite a bit from segment to segment, but voices are generally clear enough and the incidental music by Steve Edwards and Mazatl Galindo supports the film well. The digital transfer seems clean, and the flaws are attributable to the source.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Chris Roe and Producer Richard Roe
- Extended Interview with Julian Lennon
Director Chris Roe (Me) and Producer Richard Roe (Pop) contribute a fun, casual commentary about the making of the film. The film was shot in 1996 and the commentary recorded in 2000, so the filmmakers' distance from the project and its stresses affords them a generous, objective perspective on the film and their own relationship. There's a large amount of mike noise, but no dead air, and in many ways the track plays as an extension of the film itself—it's insightful in the same way as the main attraction, and very worthwhile.
Extended Interview with Julian Lennon:
An 8-minute, apparently complete version of the interview with Lennon seen in the film. I'm not sure why it's presented as a separate "feature" apart from the other deleted scenes, though MGM's name-desperate billing of the film as "Including Julian Lennon" may have something to do with it. The audio is very glitchy, but it's a good interview and worth having in its unedited form.
Five brief deleted scenes, about ninety seconds each, that weren't used in the film proper. Most have more to do with travel difficulties during the making of the film than its subject, but they're entertaining enough. Some profanity is bleeped out in keeping with the feature's PG-13 rating. Unfortunately, an intriguing deleted interview segment referred to in the commentary is nowhere to be found.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsPop & Me is a fascinating look at father-son relationships around the world and behind the camera; anyone with parents will be able to relate to this casually rich documentary. MGM's DVD features a competent transfer given the low-budget documentary source, with some valuable supplements. Recommended.
Dale Dobson 2000-12-17