Tip for aspiring filmmakers: never open your film with a character that's more interesting than your lead.
Example: In Jason Carvey's "A New Wave," we spend several minutes with a very funny John Krasinski before we're ever introduced to Andrew Keegan as our hero. Problem is, once we've seen how amusing Krasinski can be, all those scenes with Keegan become a massive bore. Why, we ask again and again, couldn't the movie be about Krasinski, instead of pushing him over to the sidelines?
The opening scene sets the stage all wrong. It's a good scene, in which Krasinski, as motor-mouthed trickster Gideon, works his way to stealing an expensive suit. But why open the film with him in a bit of amusing nonsense, then shove him aside? Why not open with the movie's second scene, the introduction of Desmond (Keegan), a struggling artist slogging his way through a bland day job as a bank teller? Doing so would not only immediately put Desmond up front in the audience's mind, but it would cement Gideon's purpose as comic relief troublemaker and not center of attention.
But we must dance with the movie what brung us, as they sort of say. The bass-ackwards opening of "A New Wave" fits well with the rest of the picture, which leaps around its story with no sense of focus or rhythm. The set-up is that Gideon, a cheery, self-confident, movie-obsessed slickster, convinces Desmond to help him rob a bank. "Bottle Rocket" fans can think of Gideon as a low-rent Dignan and Desmond as Anthony. Indeed, "A New Wave" wears its "Bottle Rocket" inspirations all over, as it, too, isn't really about robberies but one friend's wide-eyed love for the idea of being a criminal and another's sleepy-eyed attempts to figure out his own post-college life.
But the magic of that indie classic isn't anywhere near "A New Wave." Rookie writer/director Carvey follows the steps, leaping from quirky character to goofy situation while hoping to ultimately focus on Desmond's quiet angst, but that's the thing. When Carvey's screenplay drifts away from the caper, it fails to offer up anything of equal value. We learn of Desmond's struggles with making it in the real world, compounded with a relationship (the girlfriend, Julie, is played by a charisma-free Lacey Chabert) stressed by Desmond's constant fear of Julie's wealthy, overbearing father (William Sadler).
The film spends most of its time following this angle. Desmond lands a gallery showing for his paintings, which opens up a possible new future. He's growing up, eventually dumping the whole idea of Gideon's nutty plans. But to get us there, we must first waste a seeming eternity with a lengthy, completely unnecessary scene involving a coked-out French gun dealer (Wass M. Stevens) that's more "Boogie Nights" than usable story. And then we must sit through a subplot in which Julie is mugged; it's supposed to be a tipping point for Desmond, showing him that he needs to take more responsibility, but it's all but forgotten a few scenes later, which take place the very next day and feature a suddenly no longer distraught Julie clowning around with the boys.
Every now and then, we keep slinking back to the heist plot, as if Carvey was accidentally reminded what he was supposed to be writing before he got all sidetracked with all that angst. Gideon and buddy Rupert (Dean Edwards, inexplicably delivering a British accent - aping Don Cheadle in the "Ocean's" films, perhaps?) ultimately continue with the robbery as planned, only this time, the screenplay, in an effort to add depth to the characters and their story, removes all sense of fun from the scene. As the heist goes wrong, we're tossed another curveball, with heavy dramatics and an increasingly downbeat tone - followed, perhaps not surprisingly, with an epilogue that tries to be wildly funny again.
So "A New Wave" turns out to be a movie that never really knows where it's going, or why. It's a movie that feels made up on the fly, constantly changing in all the wrong ways. Krasinski and Edwards are funny, but ultimately they're just filler. Then again, so is our lead, a character who wades through whatever bland set-ups the script tosses his way.
Video & Audio
The film's anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer is washed out and cheap-looking, although this may be a fault of the original film, which never rises above its low-budget roots. Certain scenes are overly grainy on purpose (to deliver "fantasy" caper sequences), while other scenes are slightly grainy, not on purpose.
The film's soundtrack, in Dolby stereo, is passable if a bit too much on the low end; I had to turn my speakers up a little more than usual for this one. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are provided.
"Big Plans" by Sunriser is the film's catchy alt-pop closing theme; its music video (4:32) combines enjoyable performance footage with mediocre, randomly-edited footage from the film (which occasionally drops dialogue over the music).
Four deleted scenes (21:43 total) are overlong and bland. They're presented here in rough cut form with unfinished audio mixes that leave some of the dialogue inaudible.
An outtakes reel (8:16) isn't very impressive either. Krasinski's ad libbing is fun to watch, but the rest drags.
The film's trailer (2:02) and a preview gallery of other ThinkFilm releases round out the set. The preview gallery also automatically plays as the disc loads; you can skip past it if you choose.
All bonus material is presented in 1.33:1 full frame with movie clips appropriately letterboxed.
Even Krasinski fans will do fine to Skip It. When the "Office" star is on screen, it's obvious that it's the actor's talents, not the problematic script, that get us through. Barely.