Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment / Overture Films
Film Length: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.40:1)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
The Film - 2 out of 5
“They say money can't buy happiness but it sure as hell buys everything else.”
Oh Anchor Bay, what are you doing? Could it be that the same great horror genre studio / label that brought us Hatchet, Behind the Mask and Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (and a thousand different versions of Evil Dead on DVD) is selling out? Say it ain’t so, Joe!
I can almost imagine the pitch meeting with all ten producers for Mad Money…
“Its Ocean’s Eleven, but for women. We’ll cast Diane Keaton for the baby boomer demographic, Queen Latifah for the African-American demographic, and Katie Holmes for the kids! It’s a three-quadrant movie. We can’t miss!”
Mad Money is the first big theatrical from Overture Films (Anchor Bay’s new theatrical arm) and clearly a sign of change over at our favorite genre company. Although the DVD came out in May, Anchor Bay has just released the film on Blu-Ray, just in time for the recession. Three Federal Reserve employees (Keaton, Latifah and Holmes) all with money problems, hatch a plan to steal the worn-out currency no longer in circulation that’s headed for the shredder. At first, all goes well, but, when greed, spending sprees and loose lips take over, chaos (and “wacky comedy”) ensues… well, sort of. The characters seem to have a fun adventure, however for the viewers, not so much. Also starring in supporting roles are Ted Danson (“Cheers”), Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore), Roger Cross (“24”) and the always reliable Stephen Root (Office Space)
The film isn’t terrible, it just has that “been there, done that” feel to it. The biggest problem with the film is the lazy script by Glenn Gers (Fracture). There’s nothing we haven’t seen before and nothing original in it. I almost felt like the writer watched the 1980’s films, How To Beat The High Co$t of Living and 9 to 5 and just updated the formula. The performances are adequate at best and the men in the film (McDonald & Danson) and are merely window dressing. Stephen Root is the only standout, playing the neurotic, by the book, Federal Reserve administrator that attempts (and fails) to rule with an iron fist. It also marks the directorial debut of Academy Award Winning screenwriter Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise).
The Video - 2 out of 5
I found the picture on the BD-50 to be average at best. The whole film seemed to be shot with a soft filter that gave everything a bit of a haze or glow. The image was sharp, but seemed to have a bit a digital grain, with little or no edge enhancement. Flesh tones were accurate but the colors didn’t really “pop” (like you would expect from a 1080P HD image). My biggest problem with the presentation was what they did with poor Diane Keaton. As you are aware, with a 1080P HD image, it is difficult to hide anything. As with anyone over the age of 60, you are going to have wrinkles, they unfortunately come with the territory. From the moment Ms. Keaton is first seen on screen to the final frame, it seems the filmmakers have taken the liberty to digitally airbrush or digitally smear poor Diane’s face and neck in an attempt to make her appear more “youthful”. Although you might be able to hide this digital touch up behind the resolution of a 480P standard DVD, the effect in high definition is obvious, sloppy and distracting.
The Audio / Sound - 3 out of 5
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 was slightly better than average, given my disappointment of the transfer. The dialogue was free and clear of distortion (although looped dialogue was fairly obvious). The score by Marty Davich and James Newton Howard took advantage of the surround capabilities the best and was exceptionally well balanced. Surround activity with the soundtrack was minimal, with the center channel handling most of the work. The most use of the rear channels and LFE’s were during an explosion and a police helicopter about 1:23 into the film.
The Extra's - 1 1/2 out of 5
Commentary with Director Callie Khouri
Makin’ Money: Behind the Scenes of Mad Money (9:12): Featurette about the making of the film presented in 1080i (although it appears to be standard definition, kicked up to HD). Nothing more than EPK leftovers.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (10:30): Presented in standard definition and non-anamorphic.
Theatrical Trailer (2:17): Presented in anamorphic, standard definition, kicked up to HD.
As we build our Blu-Ray collections, ask yourself… “Do I really need to own Mad Money on Blu-Ray?” The answer is probably not. At $39.98 SRP, it’s just not enough movie to warrant that price. It certainly worth a look on cable or perhaps a $1.00 DVD rental at your local Redbox. But in these trying economic times, keep your “Mad Money” in your wallet and pass on this one. If you want to see a better Callie Khouri movie about female empowerment, pick up the DVD of Thelma & Louise.
Overall Score - 2 out of 5
Release Date: November 18, 2008
My DVD Collection: DVD Profiler, by Invelos Software, Inc.