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MILLENNIUM

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Cast:
Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Alex Berg, Keegan-Michael Key, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, David Pasquesi, Michael Ian Black
Writing Credits:
Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon

Tagline:
The Devil got a baby mama.

Synopsis:
Hell Baby, a comedy scripted by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (Night at The Museum, Reno 911!: Miami) marks their co-directing debut. Jack (Rob Corddry) and Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) are an expectant couple that moves into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans -- a house with a deadly demonic curse. Things soon spiral out of control for Jack and Vanessa, as well as their-not-so-helpful neighbor F'Resnel (Keegan-Michael Key), Vanessa's friendly psychiatrist (Michael Ian Black), Vanessa's Wiccan sister Marjorie (Riki Lindhome) and the detectives assigned to look into the rising body count (Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer). Only the Vatican's elite exorcism team (Garant and Lennon) san save them -- or can they?

Box Office:
Budget
$2.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.980 thousand on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$4.980 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 12/31/2013

Bonus:
• Nine Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reels
• Previews and Trailer


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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.


Hell Baby [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 18, 2013)

For a comedic take on the demonic possession genre, we head to 2013’s Hell Baby. With twins on the way, Jack Watson (Rob Corddry) and his heavily pregnant wife Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) buy a fixer-upper in New Orleans. Since the abode resides in a terrible neighborhood, Vanessa worries about their future there.

Vanessa’s misgivings come true, though not in the manner she expected. It turns out that they bought a haunted house and the spirits overtake Vanessa and her unborn babies. To combat this and save both mother and children, the Vatican sends their crack exorcism team. Fathers Sebastian (Robert Ben Garant) and Padrigo (Thomas Lennon) head to Louisiana to deal with the demonic presence.

With a fair amount of talent behind it, I went into Baby with decent expectations. No, I didn’t anticipate a comedy classic, but it featured enough funny participants – including writers/directors Garant and Lennon – that I hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the end result lacks much to offer mirth, though I will give it credit for this: at least it avoids the cheap ‘n’ easy paths taken by predecessors like Scary Movie. Those tend to focus on cheap slapstick, crude sex humor and scenes that do little more than copy those from earlier films.

While Baby occasionally veers toward some of those elements, they don’t become the norm. Indeed, the movie shows real restraint in terms of specific parodies; while it nods toward films such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen, it doesn’t provide obvious lifts from those flicks.

Despite these positives, Baby suffers from a mix of flaws, most of which connect to its loose narrative. There’s just no consistency to the story or pacing, as the film branches off to whatever episodes it chooses. This goes to extremes at times, such as during a very long flashback that shows the priests’ backstories; that sequence has next to nothing to do with the overall plot and while it has some humor, it seems awfully self-indulgent.

Because of this, Baby tends to be all over the place, and the incoherence harms it potential. As noted, we do get a solid cast, and they’re usually pretty good. Lennon and Garant offer amusing updates on Father Guido Sarducci, and as the nosy neighbor, Keegan-Michael Key becomes a delight; he fully embraces the silliness of his role but he doesn’t overplay the part, and he lights up every scene in which he appears.

Speaking of the cast, I will excuse its self-indulgence in terms of the first time we see Riki Lindhome. As Vanessa’s sister, she initially shows up in the shower, and she provides an extended, graphic nude scene. Does this need to last one-third as long as it does? Nope. Does the scene need to be in the movie at all? Not really, but for once, I won’t complain.

I don’t want to come down too hard on Hell Baby, as it does become reasonably funny at times, and it improves as it goes. That said, its inconsistency becomes an issue, and the end product disappoints. While it produces some laughs, we find fewer chuckles than we should.

Footnote: stick around until the conclusion of the end credits for a little tag.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Hell Baby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not stellar, the image was more than satisfactory.

Sharpness was mostly good, as the film usually appeared well-defined and concise. A few shots could be a bit on the soft side, but those were infrequent and not a big intrusion. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. In terms of print issues, no concerns materialized.

Baby went with a semi-stylized palette. Much of the flick stayed with an orientation toward amber or teal, though a few brighter colors popped up at times. Within those constraints, the hues were appropriate and well-rendered. Blacks seemed dark and tight, but shadows were a bit more erratic; some low-light shots came across as a bit dense, though most gave us good delineation. All of this made the image a solid “B”.

I also felt pleased with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Baby. The soundfield mostly came to life during a few supernatural sequences, as those provided fairly good material from the side and rear speakers. Otherwise this was a mix heavy on atmosphere. Those elements created a nice sense of place and added impact to the material.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and music appeared robust and full. Effects were accurate and dynamic. Low-end response showed good thump and richness. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio merited a “B”.

Don’t expect many extras here. We find nine deleted scenes, and they fill a total of 27 minutes, 50 seconds. These usually provide extensions to existing sequences, so true “deleted scenes” remain rare.

Given how rambling the final product tends to be, it was good that the movie lost most of these, as they’d have made it even more long-winded than it is. That said, we find some amusement here, so the clips are worth a look.

Two Gag Reels also pop up here. We find a “Goof Reel” (5:19) as well as something called “Rawdog Radio Comedy” (8:33). The former largely offers a standard blooper collection that focuses on mistakes, though it tosses in some alternate lines as well. As for “Rawdog”, it essentially offers an extended scene, as it gives us a much longer take on the radio standup comic the priests listen to in their car. Though uncredited, I suspect Keegan-Michael Key plays the (intentionally) awful comedian, and he’s a hoot.

The disc opens with ads for Parkland, As I Lay Dying, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear and Charlie Countryman. We also get the trailer for Hell Baby.

An inconsistent spoof, Hell Baby boasts such a good cast that occasional humor occurs. However, it meanders and fails to come together to create a solid comedy. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio along with some cut footage. Reno 911! fans might want to give Hell Baby a look, but they shouldn't expect much from it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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