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VELOCITY/THINKFILM

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Gregg Kavet, Andy Robin
Cast:
Aaron Stanford, Paul Schneider, Michael Rapaport, Kevin Dunn, Zooey Deschanel, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Judah Friedlander
Writing Credits:
Gregg Kavet, Andy Robin

Tagline:
The criminal mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Synopsis:
John "Rugged" Rudgate (Aaron Stanford) thinks he's a notorious criminal, but is really just a total loser who fails to realize his "crimes" never really happened. Teaming up with a goofy childhood friend (Paul Schneider) and his sister (Zooey Deschanel), the three hapless crooks try to commit grand larceny and end up failing big time.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$8.875 thousand on 5 screens.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 7/24/07

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin and Actors Aaron Stanford and Paul Schneider
• Alternative Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Live Free or Die” Featurette
• Blooper Reel
• Trailer
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Live Free Or Die (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 24, 2007)

How many copies of 2006’s Live Free or Die do you think will end up in the homes of people who want to see Live Free or Die Hard instead? Probably not a lot, but I expect that with all the clueless people in the world, this mistake will occur.

Instead of the slam-bang action adventures of John McClane, Die presents a comedy. Set in New Hampshire, we meet petty criminal/con man John “Rugged” Rudgate (Aaron Stanford). He runs very low-level schemes to make a buck and doesn’t show a lot of guts or brains. However, Rugged does possess a very strong self-image, for he envisions himself as a real badass gangster.

Of course, that’s far from the truth, and the coward’s operations remain pretty pathetic. At the liquor store, he runs into dim-witted former classmate Jeff Lagrand (Paul Schneider). We learn that Lagrand inherited the U-Lock storage facility from his dead dad, and this news inspires more schemes in Rugged’s head. He wants to be “security” for the U-Lock and convinces Lagrand to hire him.

However, Lagrand may have overstated his stake in the U-Lock. It turns out that his much smarter sister Cheryl (Zooey Deschanel) acts as the brains of the operation; Lagrand just handles odd jobs around the lot. Nothing slows Rugged’s desire to come across like a tough guy, though, especially when a local named John Oldfield (RE Rodgers) taunts him.

This angers Rugged and makes him entertain thoughts of revenge. Rugged plans to poison Oldfield’s water to make him sick. Unbeknownst to Rugged, Oldfield eats bad clams and dies. When Rugged sees this, he assumes that his shenanigans killed Oldfield. This sends him into panic mode, so he and Lagrand try to control the damage. The rest of the movie follows their adventures.

As the DVD’s case makes sure we know, directors/writers Greg Kavet and Andy Robin both used to work on Seinfeld. That factor certainly bought them a lot of good will. I felt willing to cut them a lot of slack as I watched Die, certain that the wit we found on Seinfeld would eventually manifest itself here.

Sad to say, that never happens. Die comes across with a greater connection to the world of the Coen brothers than that of Seinfeld, as it displays its Coen influences on its sleeve. I find it hard to imagine that Robin and Kavet didn’t watch a lot of Fargo and Raising Arizona as they prepped this puppy.

I can’t say that I care a lot for the work of the brothers, so imitation Coen proves even less satisfying. Almost painfully low-key, Die never really goes anywhere. The viewer continually expects something interesting to happen or for it to develop some amusing characters, but neither eventuality ever develops.

Actually, I guess the plot does move along with quite a few events. That fact makes Die the antithesis of the action film. Plenty of events occur, but it feels like everything remains stagnant. Although we see plenty of different schemes and characters, all of them tread water to us. Various threads may develop, but the whole thing seems stuck in neutral.

Indeed, Die often comes across more like a collection of minor quirks without much else. I like deadpan and understated, but I need something funny to occur. Die is so underdone that it never goes anywhere. Maybe this is the kind of flick that manifests its subtle charms upon subsequent viewings, but as of my initial screening, I have to dub it a dull dud.


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

Live Free or Die appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film featured an unexceptional transfer.

Some minor issues stemmed related to sharpness. Though most of the flick demonstrated good delineation, some shots came across as a bit soft. These weren’t pervasive or overwhelming, but they caused a few distractions. No jagged edges appeared, but I saw a little shimmering and some edge haloes at times. In terms of source flaws, I noticed a few specks and a little grain. Otherwise, the movie looked clean.

Don’t expect a dynamic palette from Die. The colors stayed fairly natural but subdued. Within those constraints, the movie showed acceptable colors; though they weren’t memorable, they worked for the film’s design. Blacks tended to be somewhat inky, though, and shadows lacked definition. Low-light shots were rather dense and opaque. These factors added up to a lackluster transfer.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Die was average. Music presented the most prominent aspects of the mix, as the songs and score boasted nice stereo delineation. Not much else occurred, though. Effects stayed pretty low-key most of the time. They fleshed out the spectrum to a moderate degree but rarely did anything more than that. The surrounds opened up the mix a little as well, though you shouldn’t expect anything involving here.

Audio quality seemed fine. Music was pretty lively and bright, with good range. Effects were also accurate and full, though they never did much to stand out from the crowd. Speech was also natural and concise. Overall, the track was fine for the movie but not any better than that.

In terms of extras, we open with an audio commentary from writers/directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin and actors Aaron Stanford and Paul Schneider. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. (The commentary also claims to include “script supervisor Carlos” and Schneider’s mom, but they barely say anything and they’re obviously just gag characters played by the participants.) They discuss script and story issues, cast and performances, locations and sets, budgetary restrictions and problems with vehicles, and a few general production notes.

The guys seem to enjoy themselves as they talk, but they don’t tell us a ton about the movie. Instead, they mostly let us know what bits they like. Though you’ll find a smattering of decent details along the way, you shouldn’t expect much from this lackluster commentary.

Two Deleted Scenes fill a total of two minutes, 39 seconds. These include “Rugged’s Fantasy” (1:43) and “Real Sister” (0:55). We also see an Alternative Ending that lasts four minutes, 31 seconds. The latter provides a happier conclusion to the tale but not necessarily a better one. As for the other clips, “Fantasy” just offers a minor – and ineffective - extension to the movie’s climax, while “Sister” is another slight addition to an existing piece. Neither works in a satisfying manner.

Next comes a six-minute and 22-second featurette called The Making of Live Free or Die. It includes remarks from Stanford, Schneider, Kavet, co-producer George Paaswell, producers Dan Carey and John Limotte, and actors Zooey Deschanel, Judah Friedlander, Michael Rapaport and RE Rodgers. The program looks at the story and characters, actors and performances, the limitations of low budget filmmaking, problems with Rugged’s van, and a few scene specifics. The show takes a broad and superficial overview. Some shots from the set prove interesting, but otherwise this proves to be a pretty forgettable piece.

Within the three-minute and 36-second Blooper Reel, we get a collection of outtakes. Except these to offer very standard goof-ups and giggles. None of the snippets stand out as memorable.

A few ads open the DVD. We find clips for The Dog Problem, A New Wave, The House of Usher, Life of the Party and Farce of the Penguins. In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, these ads appear in the Trailer Gallery.

Though Live Free or Die boasts some talent behind it, the movie never lives up to its minor pedigree. Instead, it proves painfully slow and understated. Few laughs emerge in this pedestrian comedy. The DVD presents fairly average picture and audio along with some decent extras. This is a mediocre release for a disappointing movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1111 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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22:
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