Insubstancial and flawed, yet sweet and fairly watchable, "Bigger Than the Sky" didn't get the kind of reviews it needed (most were fairly harsh) to push its way onto any more than 9 screens earlier this year, and the small film doesn't distinguish itself enough to be easily worked on by a marketing department. Still, if anything, it'll probably find a wider audience on video.
The picture stars newcomer Marcus Thomas (who reminds me of a low-key version of Kevin James from "King of Queens") as Peter, a graphic designer in Portland. Tired by feeling invisible and going about his repetitive day-to-day existence, he decides to try out for the local community theater production of "Cyrano de Bergerac". Despite having absolutely zero acting experience and an audition that would charitably called terrible, the local theater director (Clare Higgins) decides to give him the part anyways.
He originally thought that he would be going just to get a little part, but now he's fully involved in rehearsals and becoming one of the bunch. He also starts to find himself attracted to leading lady Grace (Amy Smart), whose ex-boyfriend Michael (John Corbett, trying to do his "Northern Exposure" character) is also part of the acting group.
"Bigger" is one of those films that means no harm and desperately wants to be liked. It also doesn't claim to be anything more than it is. On the other hand, there's certainly some issues - Thomas has just enough energy to not literally fade into the background; while the movie is going for mild-mannered everyguy regarding the character, he takes it a little too far. He also doesn't have much chemistry with Smart, and their romance is pretty sudden. Sean Astin, Patty Duke (!) and John Corbett offer fine supporting efforts.
I know nothing about theatre, but the movie's portrayal of it is a bit awkward, acting like it's some sort of fantasy world. "This isn't the real world, this is the theatah", Peter is told by a character at one point. There's definitely a few cliches apparent throughout. There's also some rather odd conflict, as the theater director panics late in the game when she thinks Peter is not ready. Uh, who picked the actor with no experience for the lead, and do I really expect everything not to go well in the end?
Overall, "Bigger Than the Sky" certainly has some considerable issues, yet it's one of those movies that I found hard to dislike all that much. The picture tries its best, but another round of rewrites and a decision of whether it wants to be a comedy or drama would have gone a long way in bringing it up to speed.
VIDEO: "Bigger Than the Sky" is presented by MGM in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is fine, although it can be variable at times. Sharpness and detail are generally good, although small object detail isn't great and some scenes can look a little softer than the rest.
The presentation does have a few minor flaws, but they're nothing too serious. Some minor shimmering appears, as do a few traces of pixelation. the print appeared to be in excellent condition, and colors appeared nicely saturated and natural.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is adequate, as the dialogue-driven picture has fine audio quality that's mostly clear and seems well-recorded.
Final Thoughts: Despite being obviously flawed, I still found "Bigger Than the Sky" difficult to strongly dislike. It's forgettable, to be sure, but it's still good natured and works in some ways. MGM's DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality, but no supplements. Maybe worth considering as a rental for those who are fans of the actors involved.