One of the things I love about DVD is the fact that it's the great 'equalizer'. Many great films never make their way to wide theatrical distribution, and some 'limited distribution' films are so limited, that unless you live in New York or LA, you're probably out of luck. DVD helps level that playing field and opens the door for film makers to reach an national audience with their films.
A Real Job is the kind of movie that you probably would never hear about if it weren't for DVD. Made on less than a shoe string budget (under $10K), this sweet little romantic comedy is proof positive that a good script, good acting, a solid direction can transcend even the most meager of budgets.
A Real Job follows the life and times of John St. Clair, a video store clerk vet, who has been happily working at his video store job for the past twenty years. John's world is turned upside-down when he meets Denise Hunter, a successful rep in an entertainment PR firm. Soon it becomes appear ant that John's meager status as video store clerk doesn't measure up to Denise's friends high expectations, leaving him to ponder, should he get a 'Real Job'?
When talking about A Real Job it's really important to right off the bat say that this is not 'Clerks'. It doesn't try to be Clerks, it's not copying Clerks, and that's a good thing. (not that I didn't love Clerks, I did!). Rather than focusing on the whitty banter between characters behind a retail counter, A Real Job has its sights squarely set on the relationship between John and Denise and the effect that the relationship ultimately has on both characters.
I really liked the chemistry between the two main characters in A Real Job, and I felt that both Paul Koisby (John St Clair) and Sharon Repass (Denise Hunter) did a solid job in creating honest and believable characters. Paul Kiosby did an especially good job maintaining the tone of the film. He's got a natural whit that comes through in A Real Job and he's responsible for many of the good laughs along the way.
A lot of the real credit for making A Real Job work really has to go to Writer/Director Ana Barredo, whose script is really the strong foundation for the film. Barredo has done a fantastic job of telling her story in a way that really connects us with the characters, and she does it with a nice sweet whit and sense of humor. Barredo also did a great job directing her cast, all who put in very good performances. Unfortunately, as with many low/no-budget film, many of the ancillary actors aren't really actors, and in some scenes (especially the 'boardroom scene') it's painfully obvious. But overall a solidly acted film.
My biggest gripe about A Real Job is the fact that the editing of the film was just awful. Ana Barredo did such a fantastic job with her script and actors, it's hard to see it hacked up by someone whose 'real job' must not be editing. All budget issues aside, A Real Job could have gone from a good indie movie to a Really Good indie movie with more solid editing which would have tightened the pace and kept this likable movie more on track.
As I mentioned before, A Real Job is literally a no/low-budget film. Shot On Digital Video, the picture quality ranges from good to poor. There were only a few scenes where I found the picture quality was bad enough to be jarring and overall the picture looks very clear for Digital Video. A Real Job is presented in Widescreen on the DVD but is not optimized for 16x9 TVs. All in all a pretty good transfer with some notable problem scenes.
Again a no/low budget flick, so the sound isn't phenomenal. Presented in Dolby Surround the soundtrack is clear for the majority of the dialogue in the film and some of the music. Some of the songs in the film are mixed under too low so they don't ultimately have the level of impact that the should. There are some real corny sound gags in A Real Job, and the film didn't really needed them. The scoring in this film is a bit too much, and it feels like there's ALWAYS something playing in the background. The film is strong enough not to need that.
The most notable extra on the Real Job DVD is an audio commentary with Director Ana Barredo, Producer Henry Rivas, actor Alan Natale and 'Sound Guru' Vini Cirilli. I really enjoyed listening to this commentary track, it was EXTREMELY informative and gave a great insight into the making of A Real Job. I was shocked to hear that the movie was made for under $10K, that many of the video store shots were done in someone's garage with a big poster in the background of the video store. The audio commentary is an absolute must for anyone aspiring to make a movie on their own.
Part way through the commentary Director Ana Barredo admits that this isn't a 'sober' commentary as they kick back a few more Corona's. While I don't think everyone should do commentaries under the influence, I do think the casual conversational atmosphere on the commentary track compliments the movie very well. 'The gang' takes a nice lighthearted approach at talking about the film, which results in a fun track.
The only other extra's on the disc is the films trailer, which is well cut and captures some of the 'fun of the film'
I did like A Real Job, it's a sweet, funny, romantic film. The script creates a solid foundation which is built on by some good acting and some nice humor. Sure it's got some problems including some poor editing, but ultimately the film transcends these and other budget related limitations and is a great example of a solid indie film finding its audience through DVD.