Director Barry Levinson's "Everlasting Piece" will likely go down in the filmmaker's career as one of the bigger mis-steps. Not only did the film receive mixed reviews, controversy around how Dreamworks distributed the picture still has Levinson angered. The film really never went beyond about playing on eight screens and grossed less than 75,000.
The film is certainly not Levinson's best effort either, with a story that's not only too thin to be stretched to two hours, but whose subject is almost completely lacking in potentional humor. It's a steep drop after the near-brilliance of 1997's "Wag The Dog", which contained a superb pair of performances from Dustin Hoffman and Robert Deniro.
The film revolves around two barbers, one Catholic, one Protestant, who band together in an attempt to be the leading sellers of toupees in Northern Ireland. Colm and George take a job cutting hair at the local insane asylum and one day, an insane hairpiece salesman (Billy Connolly) comes in - they snatch his client list. They call themselves "The Piece People" and try to merge the two communities - Protestants and Catholics - in the process. Unfortunately for them, there's a rival company ("Toupee or not Toupee" - so unfunny.)
Although I fail to see much beyond a skit's worth of humor in the idea of selling hairpieces, the film further suffers from the fact that it doesn't know what it wants to be - a comedy full of light whimsy or a serious, straight-forward picture. The lack of focus on one or the other makes this is a slow, uninvolving journey, unlike "The Big Tease", which was a similar film about a hairdressing competition that had some fantastically funny moments.
Neither lead actor seems to have much in the way of personality and seemed especially bland in comparison to Craig Ferguson ("The Drew Carey Show")'s performance in "Tease". "Piece" simply wanders for the majority of its running time, neither funny or particularly thoughtful - most often, simply boring.
VIDEO: "Everlasting Piece" receives a very nice 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer from Dreamworks; it certainly one be regarded as one of their best efforts, but it still looks very enjoyable for such a small picture. Sharpness and detail are usually pleasant, if not too impressive - the image seems slightly on the softer side now and then, especially during some of the interior and dimly lit sequences.
There are only a few minor noticable flaws: I spotted the occasional print flaw in the form of a mark or speckle that appeared briefly and not in great numbers. Edge enhancement is only visible in a tiny amount once or twice, as are a couple of very slight traces of pixelation. Certainly nothing heavily distracting and not even anything mildly so.
Colors look strong and natural; the area takes on a rather subdued color palette in the picture and there really isn't any colors that are too bright. Dreamworks produces a very fine effort as usual, if the limitations of the film's budget keep the film's look from being as good as it can be.
SOUND: "Everlasting Piece" is presented in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Neither really make a difference in this dialogue-driven comedy. The film's audio does do one thing right though; the wonderful soundtrack full of great music like the Talking Heads gets the full attention when it comes in - re-inforced strongly by the surrounds. Other than that though, the picture remains fairly quiet, with the occasional ambient sounds coming in, but that's about it. Audio quality seemed fine, as the music sounded terrific, but dialogue only sounded fairly good.
MENUS:: Suprisingly, excellent animated menus are provided for "Piece", with film-themed images and music in the background.
EXTRAS:: "Piece" only gets a few very minor extras - the trailer, production notes and cast/crew bios.
Final Thoughts: "An Everlasting Piece" was a questionable choice for Levinson and the results simply didn't engage me. Some may find it rental-worthy, but that's if it can be found - the local video store that usually gets at least several copies on DVD of even the smallest picture and over a hundred of the largest indicated that they weren't getting any copies of "Piece".