A Love Song For Bobby Long US Theatrical Release: December 29, 2004 (Wide release: January 21, 2005) (Lions Gate Films) US DVD Release: April 19, 2005 Running Time: 2:00:21 (28 chapter stops) Rating: R (For language including some sexual references) Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Audio: English DD5.1, French DD5.1, Portuguese DD5.1 (Extra Features: English DD2.0) Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Extra Features: Portuguese, Spanish) TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Not animated Packaging: Standard keepcase; single-sheet insert has cover images for other titles on both sides. MSRP: $26.96 THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3.5/5 A grizzled man and his bottle tramp past a variety of colorful New Orleans architecture. He’s late, but in no hurry, and his shoes don’t match. He is much younger than he looks. His cream-colored suit and hat would be completely incongruous anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon. This is Bobby Long (John Travolta), drunken layabout, who in another life had been a literature professor. Bobby is on his way to the funeral of his old friend (and current landlady) Lorraine Will, a club singer. He manages to arrive before it ends, and nobody bats an eye at his tardiness. At the service, he meets up with his roommate and protégé Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht), who, with his literary acumen and highly flammable breath, could pass for a younger version of Bobby himself. The rest of their day will resemble every other, as they trade quotations over cheap drinks. After this day, however, they will never be quite the same. For someone is about to interrupt the stagnant, liquored-up lives of Bobby and Lawson. Lorraine’s daughter Purslane (Scarlett Johansson), knowing of her mother’s house in New Orleans, has found the excuse she needs to leave her Florida trailer park and find some use for herself. Although she has no idea what to expect in Louisiana, any change of scenery would be a step up from her TV-and-junk-food existence. Pursey arrives to find the house a mess. Books and bottles are sprawled everywhere. Bobby and Lawson hope that she’ll soon grow tired of dealing with them and leave them alone, but she’s not going to let herself be deterred that easily. Pursey is sticking around, and she’s taking charge of her new house. Eventually the trio come to an understanding and manage to coexist without ripping each other’s throats out. As they grow to appreciate each other, all three are forced to confront demons from their pasts and reevaluate their presents. Their challenge is to move beyond their comfort zones and grow into better lives. Pursey takes that first step by moving to New Orleans, where Bobby, Lawson and their eccentric friends accept her into their little family and provide her with a warm encouragement that she’s never known before. Perhaps she’ll be able to do the same for them. The leads are surrounded by a motley collection of colorful characters, not least of which is the city of New Orleans itself. With its unique combination of architectural influences and its instantly recognizable music, the setting imbues every scene with a relaxed southern feel that could only be New Orleans. This is a film that begs to be watched from a comfortably reclining position while enjoying a tall, cool drink. The small ensemble cast really brings the characters to life. John Travolta makes Bobby Long a true original in a role that is very much a departure from the less intellectual characters more common to his repertoire. Gabriel Macht fills Lawson with a world-weariness that transcends his years -- he's likely on the road to bigger things. And Scarlett Johansson, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, is maybe one summer blockbuster away from becoming a major star. Despite its dark subject matter, which covers alcoholism and broken families, A Love Song For Bobby Long looks at its characters with a basically gentle eye. Although life has beaten them down, these are not bad people, and it’s easy to sympathize with them. The plot has its down moments, but generally doesn’t move in very depressing directions. It focuses on the characters’ emotional journeys with an essentially good nature. THE WAY I SEE IT: 3/5 Colors are for the most part a bit saturated, bringing out the bright hues of the surroundings. The picture is slightly soft in detail, and most scenes are treated with a noticeable amount of edge enhancement. There wasn’t much in the way of other digital artifacting. All in all, a passable image, but not one that’s going to impress anybody. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5 The soundtrack consists mainly of dialogue up front, but the surrounds do show up regularly to add to the ambience. There’s a good amount of music as well, some of it “live” in club scenes, and it’s reproduced nicely. There is some room for improvement, as the extreme highs and lows could be a little more lively. THE SWAG: 3/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Audio Commentary With Writer/ Director Shainee Gabel and Cinematographer Elliot Davis A decent track that will appeal especially to those interested in cinematography and production design, as they talk a lot about color and the look of different scenes. Director Shainee Gabel also touches on the usual commentary suspects, like casting, preproduction and music. Some information on the adaptation of the novel would have been nice, though -- they don't even mention it. Deleted And Extended Scenes (10:13) (1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Eight scenes that can be played individually or all together. Most are fairly short, but they do add some interesting alternate looks at various episodes from the story. They’re worth checking out. Behind The Scenes (28:10) (AR varies; non-anamorphic) Several members of the cast and crew, mostly director Shainee Gabel and star John Travolta, discuss various aspects of the production. They often talk over film clips when the visuals could have been actual behind-the-scenes footage, and there is some fluff, but for the most part, it’s an above-average piece. Previews: Nine trailers are included. Upon inserting the disc, the trailers for Wild Things: Diamonds In The Rough and D. E. B. S. play automatically. They may be skipped. A Love Song For Bobby Long (2:21) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Wild Things: Diamonds In The Rough (1:26) (DD2.0; 1.67:1 non-anamorphic) D. E. B. S. (1:55) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Imaginary Heroes (2:17) (DD5.1; 2:1 anamorphic) William Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice (2:18) (DD5.1; 2:1 anamorphic) The Brooke Ellison Story (1:50) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Bewitched TV (0:56) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) 80s Hits (2:52) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Manny & Lo (2:31) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Way I Feel About It: 3.5/5 The Way I See It: 3/5 The Way I Hear It: 4/5 The Swag: 3/5 In A Love Song For Bobby Long, first-time director Shainee Gabel has put together a pleasant character study of drifting folks finding their way that showcases the talents of rising young actress Scarlett Johansson. It’s not going to astonish anyone with its depth, but it is a sweet look at some unusual people. The A/V quality is decent, and the extra features are worth a look. When in the mood for internal, emotional journeys rather than for action, it’s a good choice.