Hard Scrambled appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the picture usually looked pretty decent, it suffered from some issues.
Video artifacts caused most of the problems. The image seemed somewhat blocky at times, and motion didn’t flow well. Those segments tended to be rough and without the expected clarity. Sharpness normally came across fairly well otherwise. Wide shots could be a bit soft, but most of the movie provided acceptable delineation. Some minor examples of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, while edge enhancement was minimal. Other than the video artifacts, few source flaws were visible. I noticed a couple of specks but nothing else.
For the vast majority of Scrambled, the flick went with an extremely brown, limited palette. A few flashback sequences and some exteriors boasted more dynamic hues, but most of the film looked very flat and bland. This appeared to be a stylistic choice much of the time, but I thought some of it resulted from the movie’s low-budget origins. Blacks were decent, though they could be somewhat inky, while shadows seemed passable. They usually offered reasonable clarity but not great delineation. This was a pretty average transfer.
As for the PCM stereo soundtrack of Hard Scrambled, it seemed quite unimpressive. The soundfield was decidedly lackluster. Stereo imaging failed to deliver much life. Music blended across the front without much clear delineation, and effects also didn’t manage to provide anything more than very basic ambience. Those elements stayed pretty centered, as the movie didn’t offer real breadth or vivacity. This was a bland, essentially monaural soundscape.
Audio quality wasn’t memorable either. Speech seemed somewhat edgy much of the time. Though the lines remained intelligible, they weren’t particularly natural. Music was clear but without much range. The score gave us acceptable definition without real life. Effects played a pretty small role and also didn’t show a lot of vivacity. They were a bit rough and didn’t add much. Overall, the track was very ordinary.
As we move to the extras on DVD Two, we find most of them collected under the banner of Making Hard Scrambled Movies. This set of 14 featurettes runs a total of 58 minutes, 25 seconds as they cover how to make low-budget flicks. We find movie clips and interviews. These provide remarks from producers Jim Mercurio and Erik Bauer, co-producer Michael Lent, director David Scott Hay, securities attorney John Cones, publicist Amy Gorton, and actors Richard Edson, Eyal Podell, and Kurtwood Smith.
The featurettes examine the adaptation of the original play and script issues, locations, visual motifs, and props, characters and working with actors, and staging various scenes. From there we move through various aspects of editing and storytelling. In addition, we learn about financial concerns, the responsibilities and actions of producers, and publicity.
The first half of “Making” offers a good look at various production elements, but we don’t find anything that’ll surprise folks who’ve seen lots of DVD supplements. The second half presents more unusual material as we delve into financing and nuts and bolts pieces. We don’t usually find this sort of information, so these parts come across as particularly intriguing. All of “Making” provides a very fine glimpse of what it’s like to create a flick without massive funds.
Next we find The Story of Hard Scrambled. This documentary lasts 39 minutes, 50 seconds as it features info from Hay, Bauer, Mercurio, Smith, Edson, Podell, Lent, director of photography Matthew Heckerling, co-producer Caryn Shuken, and editors Matthias Schubert and Kate Sobol. We learn about the tale’s genesis and development, bringing on the cast and crew, rehearsals, challenges involved with independent filmmaking, working with a first-time director and mistakes made along the way. We also hear about editing and pacing, the ending, and the conclusion of production.
“Story” provides a surprisingly frank appraisal of the production. Rather than just hear the usual fluffy happy talk, the program reveals quite a few problems that occurred. We get a good feel for the flick and feel like we’re learning the reality of the situation, not just the sanitized version.
A few other elements round out the set. We get the flick’s teaser trailer and a glimpse of its theatrical one-sheet poster. There’s an eight-minute take of the scene where Benno learns that Joe plans to buy the diner, and also the original “After Accident” scene that fills two minutes, 58 seconds. Both are interesting to see. Finally, we get a two-minute and 57-second clip that shows Eyal’s Audition. We see actor Podell try out for the flick as he does a scene with Smith. It’s fun to check out this test.
Hard Scrambled provides a mediocre flick from a first-time director. It stays too bound to its origins as a play and lacks the flair and flourish it desperately wants to desire. The DVD presents mediocre picture and audio but boasts some very good extras. The supplements are easily the best part of the package, as the movie itself disappoints.