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Discussion in 'Archived Reviews' started by Matt Hough, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Matt Hough
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    Picture This (Blu-ray)
    Directed by  Stephen Herek

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2008
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec  
    Running Time: 92 minutes
    Rating: PG-13
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
    Subtitles:  SDH, Spanish, French

    Region:  A
    MSRP:  $ 19.99

    Release Date: March 29, 2011

    Review Date: April 3, 2011



    The Film



    Produced for tween girls who dream of landing that BMOC at their own schools even when they’re not Teen Vogue models themselves, Stephen Herek’s Picture This has a vaguely appealing central idea surrounded by acres and acres of predictable, warmed-over slapstick and a central duo whose inevitable mating is as expected as the very sunrise. There are no surprises here except possibly that this kind of tedious teen rivalry story keeps getting cranked out with alarming and depressing regularity.


    High school senior Mandy Gilbert (Ashley Tisdale) doesn’t fit in either the cool kids group or the loser group. She lives an upper middle class existence, but her social group (Lauren Collins, Shenae Grimes) is constantly snubbed by her school’s ritzy elite led by the snootiest snob Lisa Cross (Cindy Busby) and her cringing minions (Marie-Marguerite Sabongui, Angela Galuppo). Worse luck, the school’s dreamboat star athlete is also a part of Lisa’s entourage, Drew Patterson (Robbie Amell) though lately Drew has shown signs of tiring of their pretense and has been eyeing Mandy much to her delight. But there is no way Lisa’s going to take being neglected without seeking her revenge, and when Mandy’s father (Kevin Pollak) grounds her on the day of Drew’s big party. Lisa is lying in wait hoping to sabotage Mandy’s every attempt to work around her father’s restrictions.


    The single moment of freshness in Temple Mathews’s otherwise unimpressive screenplay is the series of deceptions Mandy and her friends pull off as her father calls every half hour on their video phones to check up on her. Many of the makeshift machinations are amusing and while highly unlikely, give the movie at least a little juice. Otherwise, the mean-spirited pranks Lisa pulls on Mandy leave a sour taste in one’s mouth, even worse than the acrid taste left by her rancid sense of entitlement that casts an evil aura around her entire persona. A subplot in which Mandy’s dad baby sits his sister’s toddler (Mark Ositashvili) plays dismally despite its scripted purpose of helping him see how smothering his child is only going to drive her farther away from him by making her turn to deception. Otherwise, director Stephen Herek manages to fit in some beefcake shots of his young male star for the intended audience, gets the girls shopping at the mall, takes them on a wild ride in the car narrowly escaping collision, and, of course, fashions the obligatory song sequence for Ashley Tisdale (“Shadows of the Night”) as well as staging the climactic senior prom. And just to add icing to the cake, he makes sure to portray the witchy Lisa as an actual one rather than just a figurative one in a completely repellent sequence.


    No one’s acting Shakespeare here, and consequently no one rises above the mundane in terms of performance. Ashley Tisdale’s frizzed hair, thick glasses, and lumpy clothes early on are inadequate substitutes for real characterization though to her credit, the former High School Musical star at least doesn’t repeat her Sharpay characterization here. Cindy Busby’s malevolent Lisa is one note evil and extremely tiresome, but at least we are spared a moment of revelation in which she sees the error of her ways. Kevin Pollak is always an agreeable presence even when he’s given nothing notable to play. Robbie Amell certainly has the requisite looks for the heartthrob Drew but doesn’t find anything internally complex to plumb.



    Video Quality



    The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is the biggest disappointment with this transfer. Those expecting a razor-sharp, detailed image are going to be surprised by its acceptable if slightly mushy texture. Color is well delineated, and flesh tones are well fashioned, but the image simply lacks crispness, sparkle, and depth. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.



    Audio Quality



    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix does very little with its soundstage possibilities. While music may wrap occasionally through the fronts and into the rears, this is a mostly frontcentric sound design of no exceptional merit. Dialogue has been nicely recorded and resides firmly in the center channel. The LFE channel gets next to no use at all apart from some light bass heard in the dance club sequence where the song “Shadows of the Night” is performed.



    Special Features



    “The Making of Picture This is a fluffy 8 ¾-minute vignette about the film’s production featuring interviews with the young stars, the film’s writer, producer, and director all extolling its virtues. It’s in 1080i.


    “Cell Phone Confessions” are eight very brief (½ to ¾ minute each) confessions by some of the film’s young stars about aspects of the film they want to reveal something about. They’re in 1080i and must be selected individually. There is no “Play All” function.


    “GR8 Scene-Specific texting” features co-stars Shenae Grimes and Lauren Collins texting comments about three different scenes in the movie in the way of a text commentary. For those who don’t text, there is an optional “Oblivious” mode you can select in order to read their comments in English. Each sequence must be selected individually.


    “The Making of ‘Shadows of the Night’” is a 3 ½-minute featurette showing the prerecording and shooting of the musical scene in the movie. It’s presented in 480i.



    In Conclusion

    2.5/5 (not an average)


    Fans of Ashley Tisdale who want to see her act something other than her roles in the High School Musical films or The Suite Life of Zack and Cody will likely be drawn to Picture This. Others who have trod down this path of teen rivalry and jealousy before won’t find anything much new here.




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC


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