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Ryan Shiraki
Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, Rachel Dratch, Will Arnett, Rachel Hamilton
Writing Credits:
Rachel Dratch (story), Ryan Shiraki (and story)

Payback's A Beach!

All-season comedy fun gets sprung in a big way when Saturday Night Live veterans Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Will Arnett gear up for one huge Spring Breakdown. Thirtysomething best friends Gayle (Poehler), Becky (Parker Posey) and Judi (Dratch) have always dreamed of being fabulous. But they never grew out of being geeks. So when Becky gets the opportunity to unofficially chaperone her boss daughter Ashley (Amber Tamblyn) to the college spring-break destination of South Padre Island, the ladies decide to turn their tragically unhip lives around and party with the beer-and-bikini set. Through keg-stands, hookups and foam parties, Becky, Gayle, Judi and Ashley are about to discover that its better to stand out than to fit in.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 6/2/2009

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ryan Shiraki and Writer/Actor Rachel Dratch
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Previews


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.


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Spring Breakdown (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 28, 2009)

I get the impression that the pitch for 2009’s Spring Breakdown went like this: “It’s Old School - with girls!” Both films enjoy similar themes, as we follow 30-somethings who re-experience their younger years.

In Breakdown, we meet longtime pals Gayle (Amy Poehler), Becky (Parker Posey) and Judi (Rachel Dratch). Nerds in college, they dream that they’ll become cool after they graduate. Fast-forward 15 years, and they remain the same geeks we met in 1992. Gayle and Becky remain painfully single, while Judi’s engaged to a gay guy.

Becky works for Senator Kay Bee Hartmann (Jane Lynch) who aspires to fill the slot opened when the Vice President reigns. One potential snag: Hartmann’s daughter Ashley (Amber Tamblyn) plans to party at South Padre over spring break. Fearful that her daughter’s drunken shenanigans will jeopardize her shot at the VP position, Hartmann sends the buttoned-down Becky to chaperone Ashley.

This may be unnecessary, as Ashley’s no different than our heroines. More at home at a Boggle competition than at a wet T-shirt contest, Ashley goes to South Padre just to prove to her ex-boyfriend Doug (Jonathan Sadowski) that she’s a hot party girl.

Judi and Gayle accompany Becky and hope to enjoy a pleasant beach vacation. This changes when they see the wild party scene, and both Judi and Gayle embrace their never-realized drunken sorority girl selves. Becky resists and spends her time helping Ashley resist temptation. Plenty of drunken reveling ensues.

Like Old School, Breakdown lives and dies with its cast. You’ll find nothing remotely exceptional about its story, especially as it veers into sappy “be true to yourself” territory. That factor makes the first half funnier than the second, as the film becomes a little bogged down in schmaltz as it proceeds.

With such a good cast, however, Breakdown manages to entertain the majority of the time. Again, the first 40 minutes or so fare the best. The leads all throw themselves into the ridiculous situations and create many amusing bits. None of them stretch themselves, but they all give the film their best and create many entertaining moments. I’m a tough laugh, but the film provoked more than a few guffaws.

I do wish the flick had gone for a little bit more cynicism, though. When it goes sappy, it does so in a surprisingly earnest way. Most modern movies of this sort keep something of an ironic distance, but Breakdown largely gives in to the sentiment. No, it’s not Capra territory, but it’s more willing to play things straight than I’d expect.

Some may regard that as a good thing, and I appreciate the fact that the movie’s not afraid to grasp onto truer emotions. However, I just don’t think that side of things fits here. Breakdown spends too much of its time as a broad satirical piece to then suddenly turn into a sentimental “you go, girl” effort. Though the shift doesn’t jolt, it doesn’t really work.

Nonetheless, I think Breakdown succeeds more than it falters. With a great cast and a setting ripe for comedic exploration, the film keeps us entertained through its brief running time. It’s fun enough to work.

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

Spring Breakdown appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered disc; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to Blu-ray – or maybe this was a drab transfer. I’m going with the latter.

Sharpness varied. Some scenes came across as a bit blocky, and compression artifacts created somewhat muddy definition at times, but the flick generally seemed reasonably well-defined. I saw some light shimmering and jagged edges, and minor edge enhancement cropped up as well. As for source flaws, a few specks appeared but that was it.

Colors appeared decent at best. The general murkiness meant that they lacked much vivacity and tended to seem somewhat runny. Blacks followed suit, as dark elements looked muddy, and shadows were too dense. Low-light shots came across as dull and somewhat tough to discern. The image was good enough for a “C-“, but that was it.

Similar thoughts greeted the decidedly unambitious Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Breakdown. At no point did the soundfield muster much to make it memorable. The mix emphasized general atmosphere and nothing more. We got good stereo music and the effects added a little environmental material, but those elements failed to add much. The surrounds remained passive as well. Beach parties added a little material but not much. This was a bland soundscape.

At least audio quality was fine. Music showed good range and delineation, with nice clarity throughout the film. Speech seemed natural and concise, and effects fell into the same range. Those elements never pushed the envelope, but they were perfectly adequate. The sound was acceptable for a comedy of this sort.

We find a smattering of extras here. First comes an audio commentary from writer/director Ryan Shiraki and actor/writer Rachel Dratch. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at why they created the film, cast and performances, locations, costumes and production design, inspirations, music, and some other production tidbits.

All the irony I thought was absent from the flick’s third act shows up in this snarky commentary. Actual filmmaking information pops up infrequently, as Shiraki and Dratch prefer to maintain their Sense of Ironic Distance from the tale. A few amusing moments result, but the track usually comes across as slow and tedious.

Four Deleted Scenes run a total of two minutes, 53 seconds. The longest shows an extended version of the therapy session with Judi and William. We also see a little more Becky and Ashley at South Padre, Becky at work, and the three friends on their earlier spring breaks. None are exciting, but all are amusing.

Next comes a two-minute and three-second Gag Reel. Should you expect more than the usual goofs and giggles? Nope. If that works for you, have fun!

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for He’s Just Not That Into You, Ace Ventura, Jr. Pet Detective, Yes Man, 17 Again and Blu-ray Disc. No trailer for Breakdown appears here.

Essentially Old School with women, Spring Breakdown sputters at times, especially during its second half. Nonetheless, it boasts a great cast and enough good comedy to prosper. The DVD offers erratic picture, average audio and lackluster supplements. I like the movie enough to recommend it, but don’t expect a great DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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