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Full Grown Men
The concept of the man-child confronting his own immaturity has been prime fodder for screenplays for a few years now, exploring a generation's woes as it moves from the rush of childhood to the cold reality of adulthood. "Full Grown Men" brings nothing innovative to the conversation, instead treading water in a pool of clichés, trying far too hard to state the obvious. Peter Pan syndrome is a tremendously interesting psychological condition, but "Men" would rather make tiresome action figure jokes and spotlight whining characters. Blah.
Packing up his collectibles, leaving his child and disapproving wife behind, Alby (Matt McGrath) is on his way to the Central Florida theme park Diggityland to recharge his juvenile outlook on life. Without much money, Alby looks up his old best friend Elias (Judah Friedlander) to reconnect, finding his hesitant former pal is already on his way to the park with a group of special needs kids. Traveling across the state, Alby and Elias work out past differences and humiliations, meeting a string of eccentric strangers (including Amy Sedaris, Deborah Harry, and Joie Lee) along the way. Growing increasingly aware of his lifelong misconduct, Alby is forced to confront his behavior as the park destination draws closer.
While professionally assembled and nicely scored by Charlie Campbell, "Full Grown Men" misses its intent by a country mile. Co-writer/director David Munro prefers to play broadly to connect the thematic puzzle, cheating the audience out of an invigorating discussion of stunted maturity by painting with primary colors to reinforce his lackluster impressions of adult development and responsibility.
The main offense is the character of Alby, who is written as a borderline idiot to make the point of immaturity. Clinging to his dolls and youthful idealism under a mop of unwashed hair (a great example of the awful actor "business" that plagues the picture), Alby is the lost soul stuck between the demands of adulthood and the golden memories of youth. Portrayed by McGrath, Alby is a wandering stooge without much of a soul, making it impossible to believe he ever managed to sire a child in the first place, much less remain able to stand up without falling immediately over. It's an unpleasant performance riddled with indication and eye-rolling situations of emoting. It's impossible to feel anything for the character, a sensation sustained by Munro, who scripts feebly and borderline offensively -- there's actually a moment where Alby envies the mentally challenged simply because they can remain in a childlike state for their entire lives.
I recommend a few splashes of Purell after handling this DVD.
Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1 aspect ratio), "Men" looks presentable, if unremarkable on DVD. Colors are accurately reproduced, showing off the limited budget well. Detail creeps in here and there, with most of the force allotted to the Floridian locations. Skintones are stable, along with a few key moments of heady black levels.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound presentation of the "Men" DVD is incredibly modest. With limited directional effects and thin, tinny scoring, there's little here to bowl over the listener. Dialogue is the main ingredient, and the lines, as horrid as they are, are solidly sold by the track. A 2.0 mix is also included.
The feature-length audio commentary with director David Munro and co-writer Xandra Castleton very dryly and indirectly passes along information on the creation of the film. The duo delivers the good stuff, especially when talk turns to the Floridian locations, but Munro and Castleton seem far from enthused throughout the track. The discussion is also veers toward "everyone was great" pitfalls of empty praise, which never goes well. There's some production illumination to be enjoyed, but I spent most of the discussion wishing I could pass some coffee around to the filmmakers.
"Making Of" (5:09) is more of a homemade BTS featurette, jumping back and forth erratically between interviews and on-set shenanigans. There's some compelling footage of the performers interacting, but without much focus, any interest dies quickly.
"Deleted Scenes" (14:45) offer more of Alby's vocational limitations, an alternate opening, a hotel lobby spiritual standoff, a muddy dance sequence, and some extended pieces of characterization.
"Meet the Cast" (7:12) spotlights the efforts of Judah Friedlander, Deborah Harry, Amy Sedaris, and Alan Cumming through interviews and outtakes.
"Photo Gallery" (1:28) presents a standard set of film stills.
And a Theatrical Trailer has been included.
At an unsurprisingly scant 75 minutes, there's not much of a chance for anything of substance to sink in. "Men" burns through its parade of oddballs quickly, getting Alby around his character arc in a hurry, hoping the pros of the piece might score a few laughs along the way. It's a swift picture, but also alarmingly trite and confused, making the fascinating subject matter hazy and impotent.