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HTF REVIEW: "Waking Up In Reno" (with screenshots)

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 01 2003 - 01:31 AM

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Waking Up In Reno

Studio: Miramax
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English

They're four close friends. Some closer than others.

I'll get right to the punch line....Waking Up In
is the direct result of what happens when
you pair together four talented actors with a
screenplay that ain't worth the toilet paper it was
written on. The film is nothing more than a big
dumb road trip comedy about dumb people who constantly
argue with each other throughout. It's no wonder
Miramax shelved this turkey for two years before its
limited theatrical release.

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Roy (Patrick Swayze) and Candy (Charlize Theron) tag
along with their best friends Lonnie Earl (Billy Bob
Thornton) and Darlene (Natasha Richardson), as they
head off for a little vacation together. Hopping into
a brand new SUV from the dealership that Lonnie Earl
owns, they head off on a cross-country trek that
takes them from their homes in rural Arkansas to
a monster truck show in Reno, Nevada.

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The road trip is plagued with problems even before
it begins as we find out that Lonnie Earl and Candy
have, unknown to their partners, taken a tumble or
two in the sack. Funny stuff, eh? It gets worse
as we are confronted with a catfight in a hotel
elevator, a 72-ounce steak-eating contest, and the
many opportunities our couples take to cheat on one
another including one with a Puerto Rican prostitute
(Penélope Cruz) at a bar. I tell yuh, I wasn't sure
if I was watching a comedy here or an episode of
Jerry Springer.

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Directed by Jordan Brady from a script by Brent
Briscoe and Mark Fauser, Waking Up In Reno
is an ill-conceived film full of rednecks and white
trash. What was originally conceived as a comedy,
is played totally straight by its acting ensemble.
No laughs here!

How is the transfer?

I suppose the transfer is above average. Some of
the outdoor scenes have a rather gritty look to them
thanks to the introduction of background noise/grain.
I also noticed a few blemishes scattered throughout
the print. Images are a little soft, but well
detailed. The film is very colorful throughout,
effectively showing off the brilliant neon lights of

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The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is absolutely negligible.
The weight of this soundtrack is across the front
channels where audio plays with a good amount of
clarity and detail. Dialogue sits firmly in the
center channel with nice stereo separation across
the mains. There is surround information being
sent to the rear channels, but you would never know
it as the levels are much too low to ever be heard.
This means that scenes that would have highly
benefited from ambient surround activity (such as
inside a restaurant or casino) fall absolutely
silent. Even the film's attempt to use pop music
to help the story along falls flat with its lack
of overall dynamics and rear support.

Special Features

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One of the hardest things I had to do after watching
this dud of a film, was having to put myself through
additional torture of going through supplemental
material. Don't ever accuse me of not taking a
bullet for all of you.

For those interested, there is a full-length
commentary by director Jordan Brady and
screenwriters Brent Briscoe and Mark Fauser. The
whole thing sounds like one of those bad Morning Zoo
radio shows with these guys trying to be way funnier
than they have the capability of being. We learn
that this film was actually the fault of Billy Bob
Thornton, who approached these down-and-out
screenwriters with the idea of doing a redneck
version of Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice. The
rest of this commentary seems to be filled with
personal humorous stories that inspired some of
the material put into this film, as well revelations
to body doubles and where individual scenes were
filmed. There is nothing informative here other
than a bunch of guys amused by their own efforts.

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Making of Waking Up In Reno may be the
funniest watch on this entire DVD as it brings the
cast and director Jordan Brady together in an effort
to try and sell this film as something creative and
funny. Two of the most important things I learned
here was that Billy Bob Thornton improvised
most of his scenes, and, actress Natasha Richardson
is an English actress (her American southern accent
is incredible).
(length: approx. 5 minutes)

There are five deleted scenes that when
combined, run nearly 13-minutes in length. The
highlights of what is here include further exploration
into the affair between Lonnie and Candy and then
the marital problems between Lonnie and Darlene.
There is also a scene inside a local Costco where
the boys go for a liquor run. These scenes can be
played with optional audio commentary by director
Jordan Brady and screenwriters Brent Briscoe and
Mark Fauser. One thing to look for -- the actual
lake that Opie throws a rock into from the opening
title shot of The Andy Griffith Show.

While there is absolutely no inclusion of the
film's original theatrical trailer, there are
trailers for Ordinary Decent Criminal, Full
Frontal, Tangled
and The Osbournes: the
First Season

Final Thoughts

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Waking Up Reno is an absolutely forgettable
film. In fact, forget you ever read this review and
immediately forget to pick up the box cover should
you see this at your local video store.

Enough said!

Release Date: April 8, 2003

All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Adam_WM



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Posted April 01 2003 - 04:08 AM

I forgot, Ron. What were you talking about?

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#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

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Posted April 01 2003 - 05:40 AM

"Waking Up in Review"! Thanks Ron, for a great way too start the day.
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Yumbo



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Posted April 01 2003 - 06:38 AM


I thought it was amusing.
transfer is good, certainly better than Evelyn.

sound is decent - the songs sounded good to me.
good soundtrack.

nostalgic for me, having done a similar road trip.

all 3 actresses are nice to watch Posted Image


#5 of 7 OFFLINE   LennyP


    Supporting Actor

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Posted April 02 2003 - 07:44 PM

I saw banners for it in theaters a year ago, I was gona go see it, now if I get the DVD for the price of a movie ticket, why not? Don't answer. Posted Image
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#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Robert_eb


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Posted April 03 2003 - 03:35 AM

I'm going to give this a rent just because this stars Billy Bob.

#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Eric F

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Posted April 03 2003 - 04:20 AM

I read the title as "Waking Up With Reno", and I thought- "ewwww".

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