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NATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Shana Feste
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, Aaron Johnson, Johnny Simmons, Kevin Hagan, Miles Robbins, Cara Seymour, Zoë Kravitz
Writing Credits:
Shana Feste

Synopsis:
A heartbreaking end to young love is only the beginning in this drama. After teenage Bennett and Rose finally begin a romance after years of furtive glances, Bennett dies in a car accident. His parents, Grace (Susan Sarandon) and Allen (Pierce Brosnan), struggle to deal with the death of their son, but their attempts at peace are interrupted by Rose's announcement that she is pregnant.

Box Office:
Budget
$6 million.
Opening Weekend
$33.616 thousand on 8 screens.
Domestic Gross
$115.862 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 100 minutes
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 7/13/2010

Bonus:
• Interviews
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Greatest (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 24, 2010)

A pretty solid cast supports a 2009 drama entitled The Greatest. The same night that Bennett Brewer (Aaron Johnson) first gets it on with his girlfriend Rose (Carey Mulligan), he dies in a car wreck. This leaves his family – father Allen (Pierce Brosnan), mother Grace (Susan Sarandon) and brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) – distraught, while Rose ends up with a broken arm and other emotional wounds.

And that’s not all, as her one-time dalliance with Bennett leaves Rose pregnant. With her mom in rehab, Rose has few options, so she comes to stay with the Brewers. This doesn’t sit well with Grace, as she thinks Rose is running some scam, but Allen behaves in a more charitable manner. The film follows this awkward relationship, as all involved work through their grief and deal with the unusual situation.

Perhaps this is a superficial complaint, but I must say that The Greatest suffers from one of the worst titles I’ve heard in a while. It makes more sense once you see the movie, but on the surface, it’s just awful. To people of a certain age, it sounds like a biography of Muhammad Ali, and to people who don’t make that connection, the name seems meaningless. The Greatest gives us virtually no hint about the film’s content, and it sounds so generic that it doesn’t make us want to explore the flick.

(Okay, one other superficial gripe: someone needs to stage an intervention and convince Mulligan to grow out her hair. She favors these awful boyish looks that just don’t suit her at all. She’s a pretty girl but she’d be much more appealing with a ‘do that doesn’t look like it’s meant for a 12-year-old boy. And get off of my lawn!)

Once we get past awful titles and hairstyles, Greatest provides some decent pleasures. It’s a seriously character-based effort, so don’t expect much plot. “Family deals with grief” is really the closest it comes to a story, but that’s fine. It doesn’t need more than that set-up – plus the twist of Rose’s pregnancy – to fill its time.

The pitfall we encounter here stems from the depiction of the film’s characters. Though four principal roles doesn’t seem like a lot, it becomes more than Greatest can chew. The movie doesn’t tie the character threads together terribly well, and the various parts remain somewhat underdeveloped. They each get moments to shine, but they don’t ever quite grow into full personalities.

The actors do their best, though. Sarandon gets the most thankless role with the often cold, obsessive Grace. While Allen wants to help Rose, Grace remains indifferent and downright antagonistic toward the preggers teen. Sarandon manages to give the role the appropriate edge, but she doesn’t make Grace a one-note harpy; she adds depth and feeling to the difficult role.

Though the worst developed of the four leads, Simmons possibly offers the strongest performance of the bunch. Rather than make Ryan the standard petulant teen, he gives the part actual personality and avoids too much stereotypical behavior.

Despite the inconsistencies of the script and story, The Greatest manages to remain interesting, largely due to the work of the actors. It’s not a particularly original tale of loss and grief, but it’s a decent exploration.


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

The Greatest appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For a standard-def DVD, the presentation looked pretty positive.

For the most part, sharpness seemed satisfying. Wider shots tended to be rather soft, but those weren’t terribly ill-defined. They were acceptable given the restrictions of SD-DVD, and closer elements appeared pretty concise. No substantial issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. Other than a small speck or two, I also failed to discern any source flaws.

Despite the movie’s dramatic subject matter, it comes with a surprisingly warm palette. The movie favored rich, sunny hues that probably should’ve seemed out of place, but they worked fine for the story. The colors were generally positive; they seemed a bit thicker than I’d like, but they were mostly attractive. Blacks appeared dark and tight, while low-light shots came across as clear. The image didn’t leap off the screen, but it was solid for a DVD.

As for the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it provided a predictably low-key effort. After the car wreck early in the flick, you won’t find a whole lot to bring the soundscape to life. The track remained heavily focused on the front speakers; even a scene at the beach stayed forward-oriented and didn’t do much to form a lively environment.

Which wasn’t an awful thing, but it meant that the track lacked much vivacity. Again, I didn’t anticipate anything tremendously active, but I thought the mix could’ve been more engulfing than it was.

At least audio quality was fine. Speech came across as concise and distinctive, without edginess or other problems. Music showed nice range and clarity, and effects demonstrated positive impact. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared accurate enough. This was a generally average mix.

We find a handful of extras here. The disc provides Interviews with four of the film’s participants. We hear from writer/director Shana Feste (11:04) and actors Pierce Brosnan (8:31), Carey Mulligan (5:27) and Johnny Simmons (5:30). Across these, we get notes about the movie’s origins and development, cast and crew, sets and locations, performances, music and editing, and the film’s reception.

As expected, Feste’s notes offer the most value. She gives us a good overview of different production elements and delivers the highest level of filmmaking info. The others contribute a smattering of useful tidbits as well, though you have to sit through the standard praise to get to them. Still, the overall impression left by the interviews remains positive.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 16 minutes, six seconds. These include “Tent” (1:31), “Drugs” (1:28), “Friends” (2:46), “Country Music” (6:45), “Money” (2:10), and “Sister” (1:26). The Grace character gets the most extra time here, as she’s the focus of “Friends” and “Country Music”. (The latter’s length actually comes from the fact it offers three takes.) These don’t really do anything to develop Grace, though; they don’t go missed from the final cut.

As for the other four, “Money” provides the most intrigue simply because it actually lets us see Rose’s irresponsible mother. We hear about her in the film but don’t meet her, which is fine, though it’s interesting to actually encounter her here.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate some Previews. These give us promos for Misconception, The Dukes, Addicted to Her Love, Baby on Board, Camille and Dolan’s Cadillac.

At no point does The Greatest do much to break new ground in its genre, but it provides a reasonably interesting exploration of loss and recovery. Most of the credit goes to its unusually strong cast; they manage to develop the characters beyond the written page. The DVD offers fairly good picture as well as average audio and supplements. If you like character-based dramas with an emotional side, you’ll probably find merit here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4285 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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