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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Clean Slate (Blu-ray)
Clean Slate (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // PG-13 // March 22, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Tyler Foster | posted April 7, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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R E P L A Y
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Recommended
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P R I N T
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Maurice Pogue (Dana Carvey) seems to be doing well. He's being visited by a gorgeous woman, Sarah Novak (Valeria Golino), who is in love with him. She's hired him for protection, so his business as a private investigator is clearly successful. (He also seems to be sleeping with another woman, who's into some handcuff play.) His former buddies in the police department and the courts, including John Dolby (James Earl Jones) and Rosenheim (Kevin Pollak) seem to like him quite a bit, throwing him a surprise birthday party. His physician, Dr. Doover (Michael Murphy) seems optimistic about Maurice's health, and his mother Shirley (Angela Paton) is always happy to see him when he visits. In a few days, he'll help the cops and the courts bust a ruthless killer, Cornell (Michael Gambon), who has been a figurehead in the local crime racket for years. He even has a nice (if nearsighted) dog. There's only one problem: every time Maurice goes to sleep, he wakes up with no memory.

Clean Slate is not a particularly great or memorable movie, but it is a pleasant and occasionally witty one. I forget where I read it, but the film was described as a "comedy Memento", which is pretty accurate as Maurice struggles to try and figure out what exactly he's meant to testify on, and how the various people in his life fit into the puzzle. With the help of a series of cassette tapes he records for himself each night in the three days leading up to his court date to testify against Cornell on Thursday, he finds himself racing against the clock to remember a crime he already caught someone committing, track down a crucially important artifact that he's hidden somewhere only he would ever guess, and figure out whether or not he ought to be romantically entangled with Sarah.

Although Wayne's World was a hit, Dana Carvey never quite achieved the kind of big-screen success Hollywood clearly thought he might have. Watching Clean Slate, it's a shame that he couldn't carve out a modest career doing more films like this, because he's actually pretty endearing as Pogue (even if the degree to which his character is a sex magnet feels over-the-top). Then again, the movie also provides some compelling evidence why his career never quite took off: Carvey's association with impressions is the area where the film most frequently feels like it's straying or straining to give him the opportunity to whip out some of his old standbys. It could have worked -- it feels similar to Fletch, with the impressions taking the place of disguises -- but even the subtle ones feel sort of unnecessary.

While mourning lost opportunities, I'd also personally go out on a limb for the American comedic career of Valeria Golino. After appearances in both Hot Shots! movies, and a few dramas such as Rain Man and Leaving Las Vegas, she returned to her native Italy and left Hollywood behind. I have no idea whether or not this was her decision, but she is consistently charming in Clean Slate, juggling both the goofy comedic premise that would find her encouraging Maurice to recall his history as a world-class pitcher, as well as more than fitting the usual femme fatale qualifications as a sexy but potentially dangerous acquaintance. It's surprising how effective the romantic subplot of Clean Slate is, which can be chalked up to the impressive chemistry that Golino and Carvey have with one another, as well as the basically sweet-natured vibe Carvey gives off (despite the script telling you that Pogue is a bit of a womanizer).

The film was directed by Mick Jackson, who also helmed Steve Martin's gem L.A. Story. He gives the movie a cartoonish comic energy that fits the casting nicely. If there's a weakish link in the puzzle, it's the screenplay by Robert King, which contrives more than a couple of scenarios in which Maurice can't figure out obvious information based on people's reactions and the context in which they occur, as well as setting up more than a handful of obvious jokes (a runner about a Mona Lisa painting a friend is painting on a wall, a slightly belabored bit at the hearing involving a two-way radio, and a really poor scene in which Maurice poses as a speaker to a room full of academics). In that way, the film resembles Maurice himself: it may not be particularly well-composed, but Clean Slate manages to get by on a combination of charm, sweetness, and an ability to be quick on its feet.

The Blu-ray
Clean Slate arrives with art that's about halfway there, summarizing the dilemma facing Carvey's character with the tagline (and improving on the old "magnifying glass" art of the DVD), but it ought to include Golino and Gambon as the fading figures in the background rather than more pictures of Carvey. The one-disc release comes in a boxy Infiniti Blu-ray case, and there is the usual Olive postcard insert.

The Video and Audio
Clean Slate is a step above in the Olive / MGM partnership. The studio has provided a clean and bright 1.85:1 1080p AVC presentation that has some nice, saturated colors, a nicely-resolved grain structure, and a little bit of depth to it. Print damage is minor, and contrast is pleasing (a little less washed-out than some of the other Olive discs I've seen). It's a fairly straightforward, no-frills affair, but there are no noticeable drawbacks or issues with it. Sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that exemplifies the same basic qualities as the transfer, handling the movie's occasional action beat or thrilling flourish with ease. As with all Olive discs, there are no subtitles or captions of any kind.

The Extras
None, other than an original theatrical trailer.

Conclusion
Clean Slate is a fun little movie that ought to have done a bit more for its two leads, both of whom are quite good in it. Olive's Blu-ray doesn't have any extras, but it does offer a nice presentation. Recommended.


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