MTI Home Video presents
Break a Leg (2005)
"They need to learn some respect."- Max Matteo (John Cassini)
Stars: John Cassini
Other Stars: Jennifer Beals, Eric Roberts, Molly Parker, Rene Rivera, Kevin Corrigan, Frank Cassini, Sandra Oh, J.J. Johnston, Danny Nucci, Freddy Andreiuci, Eric McCormack, Paula Marshall, Barry Primus, Charles Robinson, Michael De Lorenzo, Elizabeth Berridge
Director: Monika Mitchell
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language)
Run Time: 01h:38m:00s
Release Date: 2006-03-21
DVD ReviewIn Break a Leg, a struggling actor finds that taking out the competition—whether it be pulling a Tonya Harding move or pushing someone down the stairs—gives him the edge to land those roles he was always just missing. That's good for him, at least to a point, until a pair of detectives (including one with a dream of being an actor himself) start to track him down. That's the setup in a nutshell for this film from director Monika Mitchell, a dark comedy where the film industry gets skewered, roles are scarce, wannabe actors commiserate with one another, and the price of fame comes from walking on the trampled bodies of those in the way.
The film was written by John and Frank Cassini, who both just happen to star here. John gets the lead role as Max Matteo, the actor whose level of frustration reaches violent proportions, while Frank appears as Max's equally struggling actor pal Tony. The character of Max is fed up with losing roles because he didn't have the resemblance of a more famous actor, rather than on the quality of his work. When his anger causes him to physically attack his main competition for a big role, Max's career and love life start to take off.
There are some nice casting touches here, including Jennifer Beals as Max's plucky actress friend. Beals' character vanishes from the story about 1/3 of the way in, which is too bad, because she gets some of the film's best dialogue as she rages about the meat grinder business of Hollywood. I was disappointed that her character didn't play a more pivotal role, but I can't say the same for Eric Roberts, who mercilessly hams it up as another of Max's ill-fated competitors.
This is one of those films that exists better as individual scenes than it does as a whole entity, because certain blocks of dialogue ring with an honestly comic sense of anger and frustration. A throwaway scene featuring Will & Grace's Eric McCormack as a vain actor arguing about the quality of his headshots is really funny on its own, but it's just a great little moment like that isn't always connected together so well with the main story. Some of the softer bits inbetween, such as the whole detective subplot (despite a nice turn from Rene Rivera and a Leslie Nielsen-esque performance from J.J. Johnston) just don't measure up.
That said, it merits a peek for these individual bits, especially if you've ever experienced the humbling act of auditioning for a role.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is fairly soft, with edge detail a bit on the hazy side, and there's some moderate grain present throughout, too. Colors rendering is decent, but fleshtones appear a little too pink at times. This is hardly the sharpest print I've ever seen.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 surround, and the mix is very front-centric with some pronounced movement across the three front channels. It's a pleasant but simple sounding mix, with dialogue coming across clear, with no distortion or crackle.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: The screener copy I had for review did not have any extras, but an accompanying press release indicates the street version will contain "filmmaker commentaries, cast biographies and trailers." Your mileage may vary.
Final CommentsThe transfer isn't the greatest, but the film itself has a heavy undercurrent of very dark humor. There are some terrific patches of dialogue—especially a great rant by Jennifer Beals—even when some parts of the story get a little ridiculous.
Worth a rental.
Rich Rosell 2006-03-20