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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Scorched (2002)
Scorched (2002)
Fox // PG-13 // January 27, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Desert Savings Bank keeps its cash divided among five main areas -- around ten thousand in the cash drawers, another $40K in the ATM machines, a mini-vault with around a quarter mil on hand, a frequently inventoried vault, and an array of safety deposit boxes. Quite a few possibilites to steal quite a bit of money, and the revenge comedy Scorched has several characters more than willing to take advantage of all of 'em. The movie is centered around three tellers at a small bank in a sleepy desert town, all of whom decide to rob the bank on the same weekend, completely independently of one another. Sheila (Alicia Silverstone) had been dating her boss, bank manager Rick Leonard (Blair Witch's Joshua Leonard), squandering every cent of her savings to put him through school and even hiring a tutor to help him mire his way through Calculus. Rick dumps Sheila for the tutor. Ouch. Woods (Woody Harrelson, appropriately enough) has toiled away at the bank for years, and it seems that his hard work is finally being recognized when he's called into the office for a promotion...much more responsibility for a whopping fifty-five cents an hour raise. Finally, there's Stuart Stein (Paulo Costanzo), a straightlaced, well-respected employee who makes the mistake of spilling his idea of a robbery to an enthusiastic pal who eggs him on.

There's also a small army of supporting characters who help drive the action. John Cleese stars as Charles Merchant, an obnoxious millionaire who hocks get rich schemes on late night infomercials and keeps a massive pile of cash in a safety deposit box at the bank. Merchant mercilessly stomped on the mother of Woods' beloved pet duck, and he's vowed to avenge the spilled blood of his fine feathered friend's family. Merchant has also earned the ire of Shmally (Rachael Leigh Cook), a Dungeons and Dragons-crazed friend of Stu's who was suckered into shelling out several hundred dollars for his worthless scam, determined to exact revenge by egging his house. She's joined by Carter (Marcus Thomas), a slacker who's unsuccessfully making the interview rounds after an ultimatum from his parents. I'd list more, but this review already sounds like too much of a laundry list, but...y'know, obligatory love interest, devil on the shoulder best friend...

Scorched deftly juggles enough intertwining tales that it never gets boring, and it's all executed reasonably well even if the basic storyline is fairly unremarkable. Instead of having one thief who unexpectedly stumbles upon romance, has a moral crisis, and continually suffers the relentless bodily harm that slapstick demands, each of those elements is assigned to one of the main leads. It almost seems like an excuse to string together scenes that have next to nothing to do with the meat of the plot, but since those are often the funniest parts of the movie, that's hardly meant as any sort of unduly harsh criticism. Highlights include Woody Harrelson chasing an ink-footed duck around a desert tent, a one-man corporate chocolate ice cream snowball fight, the best inept interview scenes this side of Trainspotting, and faux warrior princess Rachael Leigh Cook daydreaming about tossing +1 daggers, lobbing fireballs, and spouting off her trademark catch phrase, "Wanna Jack with the Ripper?" Scorched also benefits from an extremely likeable cast, particularly Paulo Costanzo, an actor who for some inexplicable reason I've decided to be a fan of, and the hopelessly adorable Cook.

Thanks to a solid cast and a decent number of laughs scattered throughout, I'd definitely recommend giving Scorched a look on cable or forking over a few bucks for a rental.

Video: This single-sided, dual-layer DVD includes both anamorphic widescreen and full-frame versions of Scorched. At a glance, the full-frame presentation looks to be a pretty straightforward open matte job, with nothing noticeable missing from the sides and more ample headroom. Although Scorched didn't get a wide theatrical release stateside, it was apparently filmed with widescreen composition in mind, and the 1.85:1 widescreen presentation preserves that intention. Despite its widescreen enhancement, the overall look is strictly okay, looking a little closer to what I'd expect from a broadcast on HBO than a shiny new DVD. At least part of that can probably be attribute more to the film stock used than the transfer itself -- the image is somewhat grainy, detail is unremarkable and sometimes a bit murky, and colors seem somewhat flat. Not bad, but very unimpressive.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (448Kbps) breaks a bit from the comedy convention, making more effective use of the six channels at its fingertips than most center-driven comedy mixes. There are a decent number of pans and a good bit of stereo separation, definitely above average for this sort of movie, and ambiance keeps the surrounds buzzing with activity. The music throughout sounds lively and full, and a few sound effects, particularly shotgun blasts, are equally well-represented in the lower frequencies.

Scorched also has stereo surround tracks in English and Spanish, each encoded at a bitrate of 192Kbps. There are no subtitles, but closed captions have been provided.

Supplements: The only extra is a letterboxed, non-anamorphic theatrical trailer (2:18). Scorched has a set of static 16x9-enhanced menus, and everything except the twenty-four chapter stops can be accessed directly from the main menu.

Conclusion: Though not consistently hysterical from beginning to end, Scorched has enough funny moments to make it worth a rental, and the slimmer than average price tag should make this DVD an attractive purchase for fans of the talent involved.
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