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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Overnight Delivery
Overnight Delivery
New Line // PG-13 // January 20, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 9, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Although bad movies haven't scared New Line away before -- this is the studio that tossed Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace onto nearly 1,600 screens nationwide, after all -- they apparently couldn't quite figure out what to do with Overnight Delivery. After collecting dust on the shelf for a fairly long while, it joined the ranks of Theodore Rex and wound up being released direct-to-video. But hey, Reese Witherspoon, its co-star, is a household name now, so onto a shiny five-inch platter it goes. Witherspoon's presence is the only particularly notable aspect of Overnight Delivery, ostensibly a romantic comedy despite not offering much of either.

The basic premise is a sort of proto-Road Trip. Wyatt Trips (Paul Rudd) is smitten with his hopelessly chaste longtime girlfriend Kim (Christine Taylor), who wiles away her semesters attending college a thousand miles away in Memphis. He's determined to beat the odds and make the long-distance relationship work, but a phone conversation with one of her roommates reveals that Kim has been making a lot of racket with some unidentified entity known only as "The Ricker". Wyatt, convinced of her infidelity and spurred on by sympathetic stripper Ivy (Reese Witherspoon), types up a vitriolic break-up letter, complete with some raunchy supplements. Ivy even convinces him to send it to Kim overnight because...because. Wyatt wakes up the next morning to a phone call from Kimberly, explaining that "The Ricker" is actually just a chihuahua. Whoops. The letter's off, though, and the reluctantly-paired Wyatt and Ivy race against time to get to Tennessee before the package does. Along the way, they're pitted against a determined deliveryman, a mass-murderer, a vengeful student, a throng of police officers, and...ho-ho, each other! Thank you, Jason Bloom, for making us laugh at falling in love...again.

That was my reaction too, Paul.
Due to an agonizingly slow setup and an overreliance on trite formulas and warmed-over clichés, Overnight Delivery feels less like a feature film and more like an unnecessarily extended episode of a long-forgotten sitcom languishing in syndicated obscurity. It's kind of a cheap shot to poke fun at the filmographies of the talent behind a movie, but since cheap shots are...y'know, cheap, I'll note that Overnight Delivery was helmed by Bio Dome director Jason Bloom from a script penned by Steven Bloom and Marc Sedaka, who went onto write for Jack Frost (the "You da man!" "No, I da snowman!" take, not the mutant rapist killer one) and the short-lived TV series Inside Schwartz, respectively. Thrill to comedic mainstays like the character who doesn't realize he's trotting around with his bare ass exposed or someone behind dragged behind a speeding automobile. In further vehicular vagary that's been used repeatedly in other movies, there's a car accident that threatens to send one character plummeting hundreds of feet while the other prattles on with assorted threats and demands. Uh-oh, watch out -- a guy has to wear women's clothes! Look, an over-the-top dream sequence! Here's a sample joke, after Wyatt escapes from the clutches of a well-mannered serial killer nicknamed "Killer Beez" (because 'well-mannered serial killer' == funny!!!!!!). "Lay wheels. I'm being chased by Killer Beez!" "Trips, it's way too cold for killer bees. They need warm climates to survive." Kevin Smith did an uncredited rewrite at some point, and though touches of dialogue still seem peppered with Smith's distinctive flavor, I dearly hope little of his work remains in the final cut.

Global Express deliveryman Hal Ipswich (Larry Drake) appears to be positioned as the wacky, oddball character: he moans about not being able to track down a particular shade of nail polish, croons atonally in his delivery van, complains in a restaurant about how everything served to him is cold, and uses the 38th vice-president of the United States as an exclamation. I guess convention requires there to be some sort of nemesis for our plucky young heroes to be pitted against, but whatever kind of comedic gold Jason Bloom and company were hoping to mine with this one wouldn't cover cab fare home. Also wasted is the traditionally genuinely funny Sarah Silverman, whose role here is a fellow student of Wyatt's who's crushed with his response to her tirade about Moby Dick ripping off Jaws. Get it? (Moby Dick was written way before Jaws!!!)

And, of course, Overnight Delivery stars two young, comparatively attractive actors of opposite genders whose characters incessantly squabble. Golly, will Wyatt ever realize that he doesn't need to pine for Kim when the light of his life is just to the left of the emergency brake? Considering that the cover art has a picture of the two of 'em with a tagline containing the phrase "true love" plastered underneath, all signs point to 'yes'. Overnight Delivery marches in lockstep with romantic comedy conventions, including the obligatory montage of goofiness, doe-eyed glances, third-act stumbling blocks, and stabs at would be sexual tension if Rudd and Witherspoon had anything bearing a passing resemblance to chemistry to back it up.

To try to put it in perspective, think about how ineptly written the review you're reading is and how it flounders at each and every one of its half-hearted attempts at humor. This flick is almost as bad. It's not an unwatchably awful movie, but Overnight Delivery is a forgettable, stale, paint-by-numbers comedy, and its release on DVD really isn't much more remarkable.

[obligatory]
Video: Overnight Delivery includes both full-frame and anamorphic widescreen presentations on this single-sided, dual layer disc. The differences in composition would seem to suggest that the movie was shot using the Super35 process, considering that the full-frame version is cropped on the sides but offers a bit more more room on the top and bottom of the frame. Similar to New Line's DVD release of the first Austin Powers flick, the mattes in the widescreen image have been opened up slightly to the somewhat peculiar aspect ratio of 2.00:1. Sharpness, color saturation, black levels, and other assorted facets that DVD reviewers usually harp on endlessly about are presented well, marred only by some scattered specks and intermittent edge haloing. Not quite up to New Line's usual standards, but some minor concerns aside, still somewhat above average.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, encoded at a bitrate of 384Kbps, is your standard-issue comedy track™. The bulk of the activity is weighted front and center, and the largely-neglected surrounds and the light LFE are used primarily to help beef up the music gingerly distributed throughout. There's some thunderous bass rumbling throughout the strip club, and a pair of car crashes and a petrol-fueled explosion both feature some heavy activity in the lower frequencies, but moments like these are understandably infrequent. The film's dialogue has a bit of a dated quality to it but comes through decently enough, if buried a little deeper in the mix than I'd like in a couple of scenes, such as Ivy's introduction on-stage.

Also included is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround track (192Kbps), English subtitles, and closed captions.

Supplements: The closest Overnight Delivery comes to extras is its trailer gallery, featuring eight minutes of clips in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (384Kbps). The recent Mandy Moore vehicle How to Deal, Sugar and Spice, and Reese Witherspoon's Pleasantville all get the promo treatment.

The disc's nicely-designed 16x9-enhanced animated menus follow the movie's premise with a packing slip theme, sporting music contributed by Big Bungalow. The movie has been chopped up into twenty-three chapters, and the DVD-ROM portion of the disc has the standard InterActual set of nothing in particular.

Conclusion: Overnight Delivery is a tepid comedy whose only real selling point is the recent popularity of its leading lady. Reese Witherspoon fans may want to shell out the sticker price of $19.95 to add this disc to their collections, but I wouldn't recommend Overnight Delivery as anything more than a rental or a bargain-bin purchase.
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