Burning Down the House
Vanguard // R // $29.99 // May 27, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted June 14, 2003
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Skip It
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
Movie: Earlier this week, I watched a really bad movie that took a look at making a low budget independent movie, Killer Flick. It was bad on several levels and about the only aspect of movie making it didn't discuss much was how to finance a movie. Luckily, fate saw to it that I'd have a companion movie to review that focused on this topic. The movie's name was Burning Down The House.

The movie deals with a down on his luck director played by John Savage. His wife left him, he hasn't had a hit in years, and he's quickly going broke. He gets a chance to obtain the rights to a film project which he thinks will be huge. Unfortunately, his ability to get financing is not his strong point. Enter a conman/producer (okay, I know the terms are synonymous) who's ability to work a deal is beyond good, played by James Wilder. Together, they come up with the idea to actually burn down John's mansion in order to use the insurance money to finance the film. As various people become involved, they all want in on the project and those cynical looks at Hollywood are what make this movie what it is.

The worst part of this movie, which included a lot of well known actors, is how most of them seemed to sleepwalk through their roles. In layman's terms: How the mighty have fallen! That they didn't appear to have much to work with seems obvious too. I think it complimented Killer Flick but that isn't a plus. The single dimension of the characters, which may well be an accurate description of everyone in Hollywood, didn't make for an interesting movie like it's spiritual cousin, The Player, did. The lack of anything resembling a plot didn't help either.

Oh well, not all independent movies are meant to be hip and cool with brilliant dialogue. Perhaps insiders will enjoy this more than I did but those who watched it with me all summed it up in words I don't like to share in mixed company. As such, I think it only rates a Skip It but maybe someone else out there thinks it's swell.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio Widescreen color. The picture was usually faded and grainy and looked like something shot for local cable. The fleshtones were off and the blacks not true as well. The dvd transfer didn't help the soft focus and compression artifacts were present.

Sound: The sound was presented in 5.1 stereo English but was too loudly set-to the point where it was distorted at any level. The score wasn't bad but the distortion negatively impacted it's value. There were no subtitles or other languages present either.

Extras: The best extra was the electronic press kit where several of the cast shilled the movie as though it were good, along with clips of the movie. The only other extra was a photogallery.

Final Thoughts: If you really want to see a subpar movie about financining a movie, this would be right up your alley. The best thing about the dvd was the inclusion, during the ending credits of the press kit, of Weird Al Yankovic's Lasagna song. Pass this one up unless you're a masochist.



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