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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » 5 Card Stud
5 Card Stud
Lightyear Entertainment // Unrated // September 27, 2005
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Eric D. Snider | posted September 26, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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THE MOVIE

Beware the man who writes, executive-produces and stars in a movie where the main character gets to have a lot of sex with a pretty girl. I'm not saying that's why "5 Card Stud" was made, but I am saying I can't think of any other reason why it would have been.

He is Lawrence H. Toffler, and his movie (directed by Hank Saroyan) popped up in a few C-list film festivals starting in 2002 and is now appearing on DVD without a theatrical release. Straight-to-video seems about right for it. It has the desperate, sad aura of a movie that was made by people who loved it but that is destined to find no love anywhere else.

It's about a boring guy named Greg (Toffler), a part-time bartender and would-be screenwriter whose poker buddy Paul (Kevin McClatchy) -- a horny married man and first-class bastard -- sets him up with Aly (Khrystyne Haje), who lives next door to Paul and his wife. Aly has a live-in boyfriend named Brian (Landon Wine), but he's away on business for six weeks. So what's the harm in a one-night stand?

But whoops, the one night turns into many nights, and soon Greg and Aly are an "item," and then -- more whoops! -- Brian comes back from his business trip early, repents of his neglectfulness, and proposes to Aly.

Thus are the generic complications and hurdles of the Standard Romantic Comedy set in motion. I promise you, there is not a single development anywhere in the film that you haven't seen done before (and better) in other movies: the breakup, the montage of missing each other while a sappy pop song plays, the scene where someone unexpected tells them each something wise that makes them realize the mistake they've made ("How long are you going to be a spectator in your own life?" someone asks Greg); and the reconciliation, which always takes place in public, or at least in front of other people.

It's all here, folks, and none of it's funny or romantic. Greg and Aly have a lot of dialogue that is meant to be cute but that instead sounds like a screenwriter cranking out faux-cute rapport. And the comic-relief characters -- two of Greg's other poker buddies, both doofus losers -- are grating. (They honestly have no purpose in the film, as far as the story goes.) This stinker does nothing to diminish the stigma of direct-to-video productions.


THE DVD

Video: The movie (presented here in its matted widescreen format) was shot on digital video, which at times looks slightly blurry -- probably due to flaws in the production of the film, not the way it was transferred to DVD. The layer change is obvious, but it's during a scene transition, so it's a good spot for it.

Audio: The low-budget DV nature of the project is evident in the way the dialogue generally sounds like it was recorded live on the set, complete with ambient noise. (That's not a criticism; sometimes it works to make the film seem more authentic.) Pop music is used quite a bit for atmosphere, and it sounds good in the Dolby 2.0 sound mix.

Extras: There's a commentary track featuring the writer, director and co-producer (who is also the writer's wife, and who also appeared in the film). It's a fairly interesting track, actually; the filmmakers are frank about the limitations of doing an independent film, and some of their sidenotes ("This house belonged to so-and-so"; "We had to borrow so-and-so's slippers for this scene"; etc.) are amusing. They even point out a few mistakes, which is refreshing to hear. (Alas, they don't extend that to pointing out the parts that just plain suck, but you can't have everything.)

We also get a batch of deleted scenes, none of which are any funnier than the ones that weren't deleted.

Then there's the boobies-filled trailer, which actually makes the movie look good. Not because of the nudity, but because it uses several lines of dialogue that, out of their dull contexts, make the movie seem funny.


FINAL THOUGHTS This is a bad movie, released as an average DVD package. You haven't heard of it; don't let anything prevent you from continuing to not hear of it.

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