Twenty-four hours after watching Where the Day Take You, I'm already remembering it as more enjoyable than it actually was. Looking back, I feel that it was a gritty, real look at runaways who get caught up in the underground scene of panhandling, drugs, and prostitution in order to survive a life on their own. In reality, however, the film never really gets to the heart of the characters, and thus never feels real.
The only true problem with this film is its narrative style. Unfortunately, it's a big problem. The film opens with King (Dermot Mulroney), a runaway living on the streets of Hollywood and supporting his "family" of other runaways, giving an interview about his life on the streets. The rest of the film cuts back and forth between the interview and King's life after he is released from jail. This narrative device detracts from any flow the film might've had. The story, the characters, the drama is all there, but with King telling us how he feels, or telling us what it's like to be on the streets, we have less time to actually be there. Like my English 101 teacher always used to say, "Show, don't tell."
Realism is definitely a key factor to this film's worth. Although the interview aspect ruins some of King's importance by not placing him in the tough situations he discusses, the same cannot be said for Greg (Sean Astin), whose situation grows more and more grim as the film moves on. At first, Greg is the quiet outsider of the group. Almost as if he's always searching for the answer that constantly eludes him in his thoughts. It soon comes to light, however, that drugs are being to take over his life, a life he can't control thanks to the addiction he can't break free of. This is easily the most frightening storyline in this film. Watching this teen lose it all for the sake of one more hit really hits home.
Meanwhile, other important characters lacked depth. Heather (Lara Flynn Boyle), the new member of the family, never really fits in and her situation is only touched briefly. She accepts her role too easily, and thus her character never comes to life. Little J (Balthazar Getty), however, fights for all he's worth. He's a frightened young man who fronts a tough exterior. So why is he willing to turn to prostitution? Bullets for a gun? That doesn't seem right, but that's the only explanation we're given. This turn of events feels more like a story gimmick then reality. Almost as if there was a need for the film to have more darkness to make it seem more real.
Where the Day Take You is a good film, but it easily could've had a stronger emotional impact with more character development. With an ensemble cast, this can be very difficult. But with a few more important scenes, it could've created that realism the film needs to have the impact it was shooting for.
Columbia TriStar presents Where the Day Take You in the 1.33:1 full screen format. The transfer can only be considered average. Colors appear a tad drab throughout, and often a little too dark thanks to dim lighting on the set. Sure, this might set the mood for this dark tale, but it's a bit frustrating at times on this transfer. Very few scenes feature bright, vibrant colors the way I was expecting. There are some instances of a soft, grainy look, but for the most part, the film looks clean and sharp.
Where the Day Take You includes only a Dolby Surround track that is better than I expected, but still subpar by today's standards. For the most part, the music sounds crisp and deep, but unfortunately, the voices are often lost or garbled. On a few occasions, I found myself focusing too intently on listening to what was being said because it wasn't coming across cleanly. The surround aspect of this track is only used for ambiance, if at all. Most of the sound is centered, with very little left to right or right to left flow. For this film, the audio track is acceptable but nothing more.
THE BONUS FEATURES
Some full screen trailers.
Static images with some music.
Where the Day Take You is a good film in retrospect, but while I was watching it, I felt the drama deserved more tension that could've been added with a little more character development and more scenes in which the characters were forced to make a decision. It's a decent film, but without a quality DVD, I can only recommend it as a rental.