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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » In the Weeds
In the Weeds
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // March 1, 2005
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Lecter | posted February 27, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I remember a time when Molly Ringwald was one of Hollywood's major players. The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles cemented her place in the history of American cinema. So what happened? Well, that's certainly a good question, and a rather appropriate one to ask once you finish watching In the Weeds. What has happened to poor little Miss Ringwald that she's ended up basically slumming it through a barely watchable film? It's clear that careers - in Hollywood especially - don't last forever, and anyone who thinks that she's still really trying need only to see her performance in this film to realize that she's pretty much thrown in the towel at this point.

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I have to be honest when I say that there's not much to like about In the Weeds. Writer/Director Michael Rauch has created a story centered around one night at a restaurant staffed by some of the least likable characters you're likely to find in one place. It's not for lack of trying that nearly every one fails to make any real impression on the viewer. It might just be that Rauch tries so hard to make them interesting that he, for the most part, forgets to allow any of them to develop. They, instead, become slight variations on caricatures. I thought I was watching an episode of MTV's "The Real World" with all the obvious stereotypes being portrayed by each member of the staff. Eric Bogosian's Simon character is so horribly unlikable from the moment he shows up on screen that it's impossible to ever imagine giving him allowing him any type of redemption. His character is so flat that everything he does is mean, bad, or downright despicable.

Rauch's concept for In the Weeds, nevertheless, is not a bad one. Told from the perspective of the restaurant staff, it could have made for a nice slice-of-life story about one crazy night in their establishment. Good idea. Bad execution. The final product meanders for most of its ninety minutes, and really ends up going nowhere. Which would have been fine had it had anything meaningful to say along the way. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much to say at all. There are too many subplots that we simply don't care about and not enough focus on the few truly interesting characters in the film.

In the Weeds may be a mess of a film, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention its few redeeming qualities that come in the form of two promising actors and a pretty face. Bridget Moynahan, though she's given very little to do in the film, looks stunning on the screen. Rauch would have been wise to give her more face time. The real treat, however, are the performances of Joshua Leonard and Ellen Pompeo. They play the only two characters in the film that seem to be able to break away from all the stereotypes and actually resemble real people. Adam and Martha come across as complex and driven, but misguided, and the evolution of their relationship throughout the film is truly believable. Kudos to the two young actors for trying their best to elevate this dismal script.

Don't let me give you the wrong idea though; even these few shining moments are not enough to make me want to subject you to this film. Maybe if Rauch started from scratch with the same concept, excised a few characters, and allowed the rest of his cast to actually develop their characters, I'd give In the Weeds another chance. In its current form, however, the only things that would bring me back for a second viewing are the performances of two promising young actors and a really angry chef whose performance would have been hilarious if he hadn't been so badly overacting.

The DVD

Video:
In the Weeds is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer that has a few slight problems, but holds up fairly well. Flesh tones are accurate and the subdued colors inside the restaurant are handled nicely. Shadows are well delineated and detail is mostly sharp, but there is, however, a slight bit of edge enhancement and shimmering noticeable throughout. The print itself is very clean with only a few instances of dirt or debris present. Blacks could be a bit deeper and there is some inherent grain in darker scenes, but overall this transfer serves its purpose quite well.

Sound:
The audio on this disc is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo format that sounds pretty much like what you would expect from a dialogue-heavy film with a stereo track. Spatial separation is just fine across the front channels and dialogue is always clear and crisp. The use of Dolby Pro Logic II decoding even provided a few slight surround effects that made the restaurant atmosphere seem all the more chaotic. What's really important here is the dialogue, and this track never falters by allowing it to be overwhelmed, by the rest of the soundtrack, at any point in the film.

Extras:
There are no extras pertaining to In the Weeds on this disc. There are, however, five trailers for Miramax Home Entertainment, Cold Mountain, The Station Agent, The Barbarian Invasions, and People I Know.

Final Thoughts:
Maybe if this disc had included even the slightest amount of extra material - to provide me with any modicum of insight into the film - I could have gained some perspective and, possibly, even a new respect for a film that, when trying to stand up on its own, falls flat on its face. But alas, we get absolutely nothing useful in the extras department. And while the audio-visual presentation is adequate, In the Weeds is just awful enough for me to tell you not to waste your hard-earned money.

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