Completed last year, Chasing Holden finally arrives on DVD, no doubt to try and capitalize on whatever fame DJ Qualls acquired with The New Guy. Directed by Malcolm Clarke, the film stars Qualls (Neil) and Rachel Blanchard (T.J.). Sean Kanan, who wrote the film, also appears as Mr. Patterson.
Fresh off a stay at a mental institution, Neil Lawrence, the New York Governor's son, is enrolled in an elite boarding school. For English, Neil is charged with writing a paper that explores what happened to Holden Caulfield after the events depicted in the classic J.D. Salinger novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Feeling unable to complete the assignment on his own, Neil and T.J., a girl he met at school, go on a 'road trip' of sorts to see New York and ask Salinger in person how Holden's life turned out.
The first thing I immediately thought of when I saw the title of this film was Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, as the titles are similar and Holden is the main male character in Smith's film. Upon seeing the box and reading the text, I then got the impression that the film was a romantic comedy. Neither is true. While for the most part I enjoy Qualls' work in film, he really needs someone to play off and in Chasing Holden, he really doesn't have much support. Blanchard's character is secondary to Neil, and really only seems to be there so the audience can get into Neil's head. Unfortunately, Neil is not much of a likeable character. He has suicidal and homicidal ideation and, at one point, leaves T.J. in the middle of nowhere to freeze to death. Not to mention that on their 'quest,' they steal a car, save a prostitute, and break out of a restaurant. Chasing Holden is best described as a clichéd look at two troubled teens, one with an illness and the other so deeply disturbed by what has happened in his life that he becomes obsessed with a fictional character that he believes is similar to himself.
Chasing Holden is presented 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer fares well throughout, though contains a few print flaws, such as specks and smaller marks. Colors are mostly bright with accurate flesh tones and modest blacks.
Chasing Holden is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo Surround in English. The track has little in the way of discrete surrounds, though dialogue is crisp and clean throughout the film. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
The main extra on the disc is the audio commentary with Kanan, Blanchard, and, I think, Jessica Hammerschlag (producer). None of them actually come out and introduce themselves, and while its fairly easy to figure out Kanan and Blanchard, it's a bit tougher to be certain of Hammerschlag. While there are three participants on the track, rarely do any of them actually speak, leading to long stretches of just re-watching the film. Kanan doesn't even speak until several minutes in and Blanchard doesn't say much, if anything, till her character appears in Chapter 4. The participants do reveal a few things that had to be changed from the script due to budget restrictions and some of the shooting locations, but other than that, very little could be gleaned.
Also on the disc are the film's trailer and trailers for other Lions Gate Entertainment films.
Chasing Holden might make a decent rental if you're a fan of the leads, but certainly go in knowing the film is more about psychological illness and obsession than it is about 'fulfilling a quest' and 'catching a girl,' as the case proclaims. Lions Gate Entertainment provides the film with an adequate presentation, a lackluster commentary, and a high MSRP, so a rental over a blind purchase is definitely recommended.