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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Haiku Tunnel
Haiku Tunnel
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // February 26, 2002
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 4, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

While it doesn't reach the heights of "Beavis and Butthead" creator Mike Judge's "Office Space", the oddly named indie "Haiku Tunnel" does at least have some moderately funny moments and insights of its own to share. Starring Josh Kornbluth as Josh Kornbluth, the film is an office comedy that mainly focuses on Kornbluth's pondering whether or not to "go perm" (permanent) at his new place of employment, the law firm of S & M. A heavy, balding guy with glasses, Josh is afraid of commitment to his workplace - the temp life means that you're someplace new all the time.

The film follow's Josh's life at the agency, working as a secretary for Bob (Warren Keith), and being watched over by menacing head secretary Marlina (Helen Shumaker). The film itself really doesn't have much of a plot of any kind; the film is made up of small little episodes, such as Josh's attempt to find out whether or not the tape his boss left him to transcribe has hidden messages when played backwards, a day-long orientation, or how Josh opens up to Marlina's voicemail, which becomes a therapist of sorts. The one thread that runs throughout the film is how Josh must send out 17 very important letters from his boss - the letters get delayed further and further.

The film is based upon Kornbluth's real-life misadventures as a temp, which were originally made into a stage-play. Some of that theatricality remains in the performances and some of the film's style, such as bits where Bob talks to the camera. Kornbluth really isn't the greatest actor and occasionally seems a bit too over-energetic, but he's funny enough to make some of the less-interesting jokes work. The film doesn't start off particularly well, with a lengthy introduction about how he doesn't want to offend lawyers, since they're portrayed in the film. It's unnecessary and it doesn't start the film off on the right foot.

It gets better, though. The jokes start coming a little quicker and become sharper as the film goes on, and Kornbluth has some very funny little moments, such as a bit where he suddenly zips back into frame to grab a giant handful of candy from the bowl on Marlena's desk. The supporting performances by the actors who play Josh's co-workers are generally good, if not too memorable - the film doesn't exactly fill-out the supporting characters terribly well.

Although "Office Space" started to run off the tracks with its second half plot about stealing the firm's money one penny at a time, Judge's screenplay has lines that are classic and performances that are wonderfully sharp. "Haiku Tunnel"'s main problem is that it's simply inconsistent; some of the jokes and situations are marvelously funny, while others fall flat.

Overall, "Haiku Tunnel" isn't always engaging, but it's a very good debut feature from Josh and Jacob Kornbluth.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Haiku Tunnel" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen on this release. The independent film has fairly minimal visuals, but the studio's presentation shows the material fairly well. Sharpness and detail are generally good, but lacking a certain well-defined appearance, as a few scenes here and there can look slightly on the soft side.

Luckily, there are fairly few flaws otherwise. Some light specks can occasionally be seen on the print used, while a few instances of minimal edge enhancement are also noticed. Both are noticable, but neither are particularly distracting. No pixelation or other flaws were noticed. Colors remained natural throughout, although they could look a bit on the subdued side. This is a perfectly satisfactory presentation - no more, no less.

SOUND: "Haiku Tunnel", suprisingly enough, is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Most of the film seems almost mono in nature, completely focused on the dialogue. Yet, the film's punk-ish score opens up the audio quite well and comes full-on from all speakers. One or two little creative surround-sound effects also are heard. Audio quality was a bit better than expected for a smaller picture, as the score sounded crisp and dialogue natural.

MENUS: Minimal menus with film-themed images as backgrounds.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from actor/co-writer/co-director Josh Kornbluth and co-director/co-writer Jacob Kornbluth. It's a fairly enjoyable commentary, as the two discuss the sort of rough filmmaking methods that they had to employ to make the low-budget feature work. The two also point out a lot of little details about the actors and locations. Some patches of the commentary are a bit less-than-engaging, but overall, I thought this was a decent track.

Outtakes/Deleted Scenes: 6 outtakes (actually alternate takes of scenes) are included, as well as 6 deleted scenes. Neither offers commentary.

Also: Trailers for "Tao of Steve", "Haiku Tunnel" and "Jackpot".

Final Thoughts: "Haiku Tunnel" is a mostly very funny office comedy that those who've worked in an office will probably find a lot to like in, while those who haven't will still likely be amused.
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