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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Watching the Detectives
Watching the Detectives
Peace Arch Entertainment // Unrated // August 12, 2008
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 24, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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A little romantic comedy from the writer of the Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe movies ("Beerfest", "Super Troopers", "Super Troopers 2" and others), "Watching the Detectives" stars Cillian Murphy as Neil, the owner of a little independent video shop that specializes in more independent fare. He spends the day hanging out with his film geek pals Lucien (Michael Panes) and Jonathan (Jason Sudeikis) and wondering what to do about the fact that a chain movie store (called Media Giant, which is really, really subtle) has moved in across the street.

The movie doesn't exactly start in a promising fashion when Neil's girlfriend, Denise (Heather Burns) doesn't show up to the video store party and then breaks up with him the next day because she thinks he doesn't have any direction and runs a video store that doesn't turn a profit.

So, the lead character gets dumped by the irritable, self-centered girlfriend. Anyone who's seen a romantic comedy will know that, more likely than not, a "better" prospect will come along. In this case, it's Violet (Lucy Liu), a woman looking for a movie for her sick friend. The two get to talking and, despite her somewhat flighty nature, she eventually winds up agreeing to dinner.

Despite his awkward advances, she still remains mysterious and elusive (he doesn't know what she does or where she lives or anything), just like...one of the characters from his movies, I suppose? She brings excitement into his life, but not exactly in the most productive fashion: she decides to hide out in the chain store across the street and switch all the boxes after it closes. When the cops show up, the two flee - but she then gets a couple of her pals to play detectives and spook Neil shortly after.

The movie seems to want to throw Neil into a situation like one of the films he enjoys so much, but that's not handled in a way that's entirely clear and - on the other side of it - if that is the case, why does the situation sometimes feel like a generic romantic comedy instead of one of the classic films that Neil watches?

The movie tries to be funny, wacky and romantic, but there's a few issues: Murphy and Liu are not exactly high on the list of comedic talents - in fact, the two seem to struggle to get any sort of laugh. The two also have little in the way of chemistry with one another. Violet tries to play games with Neil, but I didn't see what he saw in her in order to stick around through what she was putting him through.

This was a strange (and yet, oddly it was still often predictable) and slow little movie that really didn't seem to have been thought out completely before it went in front of the camera. Liu and Murphy are mis-cast (and their characters are a little irritating), as both offer iffy performances and lack chemistry.


The DVD

VIDEO: The film is presented by Genius Products in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is just fair, as sharpness and detail remained consistently average throughout the show. Some minor edge enhancement was spotted at times, as well as a couple of light specks and marks on the print. Colors looked natural throughout most scenes, appearing accurately presented and well-saturated.

SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. As one might expect, the film's audio is the bare basics, with little in the way of surround use. Audio quality is fine, with crisp, clear dialogue.

EXTRAS: The trailer.

Final Thoughts: "Watching the Detectives" was a tough sit, as I had a difficult time caring about the characters and I just didn't buy the story. The DVD offers standard audio/video quality, as well as next-to-nothing in the way of supplemental features. Skip it.
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