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Michael Angelo Covino
Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin
Writing Credits:
Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino

A look at the friendship between two guys that spans over many years.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Simplified

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $25.99
Release Date: 1/19/2021

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Michael Angelo Covino and Writer/Actor Kyle Marvin
• Sundance Q&A
• Original Short Film
• Deleted Scenes
• “On Set” Featurettes
• Trailer & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Climb (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 4, 2021)

“Buddy comedies” occupy a pretty long tradition. Into this genre comes a new entry, 2020’s The Climb.

Though longtime friends, Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin) display very different personalities. Kyle presents as a stereotypical nice guy/pushover while Mike offers a more aggressive and defiant tone.

Matters come to a head on a difficult bike ride they share. Mike confesses that he slept with Kyle’s fiancée Ava (Judith Godrèche), and the two men need to deal with the fallout of this revelation.

To my surprise, the latter notion materializes very early in the movie, and The Climb spends only a little time on it. The film immediately leaps forward to reveal addition developments in the relationship and how the pals progress.

Or don’t, as the Mike/Kyle situation remains deeply dysfunctional. As the movie progresesses, their personal fortunes wax and wane, but they stay a mess the whole way.

That reflects the natural evolution of a friendship over a long period, but I can’t claim that Climb feels especially natural in this regard. This occurs because the movie tends toward too many “big events” when it goes through the Mike/Kyle relationship.

All of this feels more than a little contrived. Granted, I get that Climb uses the various major life circumstances to advance the plot, but it veers toward an impression that just doesn’t seem as believable as I’d like.

It doesn’t help that Climb embraces a pretentious sense of theatricality at times. Whereas a story like this would fare best with a fairly realistic tone – even if it leans comedic – the lapses into absurdity at times.

In particular, Climb tends to use musical numbers to cover the passing of time. We see cemetery workers sing to connote one shift, and we get skiers as they dance on the snow for another.

This smacks of Tries Too Hard Syndrome, and it becomes a distraction. We need to invest in the Kyle/Mike relationship for the film to work, so odd flights of fancy damage this sense of immersion.

It probably doesn’t help that neither Kyle nor Mike even really develop into especially interesting characters. While I tend to feel leery of movies in which writers cast themselves as characters with their own names, but that doesn’t become a problem here.

Though I can’t claim either Covino or Marvin provide great performances, they seem more than competent. They do nothing to escalate the material, but they fail to harm it.

The lackluster nature of the script and characters becomes the bigger issue, as I simply never connect with either Mike or Kyle. With a story like this, we need to invest in the roles, but we don’t. We should wonder how the leads will end up when the credits roll, but we don’t.

I don’t think Climb turns into a poor movie, for even with its issues, it remains breezy and watchable. It just doesn’t rise above a certain level of “okayness”, and it disappoints because it could’ve been much more.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Climb appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Even by the standards of SD-DVD, this became a spotty presentation.

These concerns largely impacted definition, as the film tended to seem somewhat soft. Close-ups worked pretty well, but anything wider than that ended up on the fuzzy side of the street.

Jagged edges and moiré effects remained modest, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to materialize beyond some minor and inevitable digital artifacts.

Like many modern efforts, the film opted for a fairly subdued feel, with an amber or teal sense much of the time. Within those choices, the hues looked acceptably well-developed, if not impressive.

Blacks came across as mostly dense and tight, and low-light shots demonstrated acceptable clarity. Given the capabilities of SD-DVD, the movie remained watchable but not especially accurate.

Expect fairly positive audio from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Climb. The forward realm dominated, as the film featured solid stereo music and a good sense of environment. Elements meshed smoothly and moved across the spectrum well.

In addition, the surrounds added some engagement. The back speakers used music well, and effects also created a fine sense of place.

The surrounds didn’t have a ton to do throughout the movie, but the mix used them in a satisfying manner. Some directional dialogue materialized and this became an acceptable soundscape for a character movie.

As for the quality of the audio, it seemed good. Speech always came across as natural and concise, with no edginess or other issues.

Music was bright and clean, while effects showed nice reproduction. Those elements came across as lively and dynamic, and low-end response appeared deep and firm. The film consistently boasted pleasing audio within the parameters of this character-focused film.

A smattering of extras appear here, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director/actor Michael Angelo Covino and writer/actor Kyle Marvin. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and connected domains.

With a clear connection built on their long friendship, Marvin and Covino show an easy-going charm, and that helps carry their chat. They never make this a terrifically insightful discussion, but they cover the production reasonably well and their interpersonal interaction ensures this turns into a likable piece.

A Premiere Intro and Q&A At Sundance runs 19 minutes, 51 seconds and provides a panel that involves Covino, Marvin, and actors Gayle Rankin and Judith Godrèche.

They cover a mix of movie-related topics, some useful, some trivial. We get a decent array of thoughts, though I could live without the comedy routine Covino and Marvin attempt at the start.

The Original Short Film version of The Climb goes for seven minutes, 31 seconds. Like the feature, it shows the bike ride in which Mike makes a confession to Kyle. It differs some from the version in the full-length movie and offers a cool addition.

Four Deleted Scenes occupy a total of seven minutes, 16 seconds. We get an “Alternate Opening” as well as three extended segments.

The “Opening” just gives us a dreamy sequence with Kyle’s family, so it doesn’t add story information. As for the extended sequences, one elongates Kyle’s striptease – no thanks!

The most substantial shows what happened after Kyle asked Ava if she still wanted to marry. It seems interesting but the film works better without this addition.

Finally, we also see more of the final Kyle/Mike reunion from late in the movie. Like the Ava scene, it’s entertaining but unnecessary.

On Set brings four clips that span a total of six minutes, 34 seconds. These essentially revolve around various outtakes. They’re mainly forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Nine Days, I Carry You With Me, Yellow Rose and The Last Shift. We also get a trailer for The Climb.

As a story that traces a flawed friendship over a number of years, The Climb boasts the potential to connect to our own lives. Occasionally it achieves these goals, but its tendency toward theatrical absurdity means it never becomes more than a watchable diversion. The DVD offers fairly good audio and some useful bonus materials, but picture quality seems iffy even by SD-DVD standards. This adds up to a movie that keeps us with it but doesn’t really prosper.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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