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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: Spring Breakdown



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

Ken_McAlinden

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  • 6,081 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 20 2001
  • Real Name:Kenneth McAlinden
  • LocationLivonia, MI USA

Posted June 12 2009 - 08:13 AM

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Spring Breakdown

Directed By: Ryan Shiraki

Starring: Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, Rachel Dratch, Amber Tamblyn, Seth Meyers, Sophie Monk, Jonathan Sadowski, Missi Pyle, Jane Lynch, Will Arnett


Studio: Warner

Year: 2009

Rated: R

Film Length: 84 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish (English on Commentary as well)

Release Date: June 2, 2009



The Film

Spring Breakdown follows the hapless adventures of Gayle (Poehler), Becky (Posey), and Judi (Dratch), a trio of friends who were misfits when they met in college in the early 1990s and remain so much to their chagrin fifteen years later. They all leap at a chance to relive their non-misspent youth when Texas Senator and Vice Presidential hopeful Kay Bee Hartman (Lynch) assigns low level staffer Becky to shadow her daughter, Ashley (Tamblyn), and steer her away from scandal on a college spring break trip to South Padre Island. Becky brings Gayle and Judi along on her mission, and their efforts to keep Ashley out of trouble are hampered by various factors including their hard-partying hotel clerk Charlene (Pyle), the 30-something ladies' difficulties blending in with the younger college crowd, and the antagonism of Mason Masters (Monk), who steals Ashley's boyfriend, Doug (Sadowski), and antagonizes her further as the leader of a group of seven vacuous girls known as "The Sevens".

Spring Breakdown was completed circa 2007, flirted with possible theatrical release for a couple of years, and finally found a release on DVD and Blu-Ray Disc courtesy of the Warner Premiere direct to video imprint. It attempts to approach the standard spring break comedy from a female perspective – a pushing 40 female perspective. On its surface this sounds like a recipe for either genre-busting hilarity or unmitigated disaster. In practice, I would categorize the result as "mitigated disaster". The film is filled to the brim with talented people who have made me laugh in the past, from the leads down to smaller supporting turns from actresses like Mae Whitman and Mindy Sterling, but the premise proves to be so limited that it quickly gets repetitive and eventually gives the cast little to do but regurgitate clichés from the male-dominated spring break/frathouse films it neither effectively satirizes nor beats at their own game.

The film almost literally exhausts its share of jokes within the first half-hour at which point it either keeps repeating different variations of the same jokes based on its characters' broadly flawed personalities, or it gets bogged down in the machinations of its lame dusty "Revenge of the Nerds"-style plot. The film approaches its clichés with neither the edge necessary for satire nor the John Waters-style subversive sincerity necessary for kitsch. Rather than a gender flipped subversion of the genre, it adds up to just another bad movie.

The Video

The video presentation fills the entire 16:9 enhanced screen. It looks decent on a relatively small display with a vibrant color palette, but on larger displays, compression artifacts become frustratingly apparent.

The Audio

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track presents a pretty standard unambitious mix with decent fidelity. Most of the mix is focused in the front three channels with wide stereo sound effects and music and dead-center dialog. The surrounds are used primarily for light ambient support.

The Extras

Commentary by Writer/Director Ryan Shiraki and Star/Co-Writer Rachel Dratch offers a screen specific discussion of the film with Shiraki and Dratch sitting together. It is not exactly choc-a-bloc full of fascinating behind the scenes information, but Shiraki and Dratch's familiarity with each other and willingness to engage in good natured kidding actually offers more low-key chuckles than the film itself. (Yes, that does amount to damning it with faint praise.) It is more entertaining to hear them mocking their transparent three-act structure from screenwriting 101 than it is to watch it play out in the film proper. My favorite bits were a running gag that develops where they compare and contrast various aspects of their film to The Hours.

Additional Scenes (2:54) offers four brief sequences that were either deleted from the film or substantially shortened. They are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. Descriptions are as follows:
  • Ashley, Becky and friends pose for a cowboy picture with a semi-surreal gag (:21) – This appears to be an excerpt that would have filt into a "nerdy activities" montage used in the finished film.
  • Becky gets pushed around at work in the Senator's Office (:45)
  • Extended scene with Judi and her obviously gay fiancé (Myers) at couples counseling (1:14) – The joke is sold by the counselor's reaction early on, but this extended sequence keeps re-selling the joke over and over again
  • Extended bit where the ladies make Pizza and discuss their previous vacations (:32) - offers some funny bits that are fine on their own, but would have repeated character points already made multiple times in the finished film
A Gag Reel (4:3 LB - 2:03) contains the usual assortment of on-set goofing off and flubbed lines. There's one good bit with Jane Lynch and a rifle, but not much to make this worth watching more than once.

When the disc is first spun-up, the viewer is greeted with the following set of skippable promos presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound unless indicated otherwise below:
  • Anti-Piracy PSA with scenes from Casablanca (1:01)
  • Warner Blu-Ray Promo (Dolby Digital 5.1 sound - 1:09)
  • He's Just Not that into You DVD/BD Trailer (:41)
  • Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective DTV Trailer (4:3 Full Frame - 1:04)
  • Yes Man DVD/BD Trailer (:32)
  • 17 Again Theatrical Trailer (2:30)
Packaging

The single-sided single-layered DVD-5 disc is packaged in a standard Amaray case with a paper insert with a code for downloading a reduced price Windows-Media digital copy.

Summary

A large cast of talented comedic actresses is wasted on this lame attempt at a female-focused broad spring break comedy. It is presented on DVD with a mediocre transfer that falls apart on larger projection displays due to compression issues. Extras include a low-key but fitfully amusing commentary from Writer/Director Ryan Shiraki and Star/Co-Writer Rachel Dratch, a collection of four brief deleted or extended scenes, and a two minute gag reel.

Regards,

Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA