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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bark
Bark
TVA International // Unrated // October 14, 2003
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Qksrv]
Review by Don Houston | posted November 22, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Movies about mental illness generally don't make great comedies, although I could rattle off a number of exceptions to this rule (they tend to be black comedies however and often an acquired taste). More often than not, they tend to be heavy dramas and not for the faint of heart. Keeping in mind that most screenwriter's seem to have great firsthand knowledge of mental illness, if not always the ability to convey it's subtleties in their works, I watched a little known movie, Bark.

The movie was advertised as a romantic comedy of sorts and I suppose someone could stretch the definition of each word to make the label almost accurate. It detailed the life of a couple going through some changes in their relationship. The wife, Lucy (Heather Morgan), finds a coping mechanism to all of life's stresses by becoming a dog. She takes on the mannerisms of a dog, most often barking at anything she perceives as a threat, and retreats into a shell by speaking less and less as the movie proceeds. Before long, she's looking out the window at night like many dogs do and the neighbors are getting pissed off since she keeps them awake.

Her husband, Peter (Lee Tergesen), seeks help in a variety of places, from a less-than-helpful doctor (reasonably well played by Vincent D'Onofrio in a minor role), to her family members, to a veterinarian on the make (Lisa Kudrow in a role that made several of her worst efforts look stellar by comparison), all of whom seem to cause more problems than they solve. As he tries to help his wife escape from her problem, he becomes the focus of the movie; trying to work through what some call a "phase" of hers.

The movie mostly meandered around and if there was any message here, it was to avoid watching movies you know nothing about (yet trust the DVD cover to inform you on). The basic premise was sound enough but it quickly devolved into an all too personal commentary by writer/actress Heather Morgan on the stresses of modern day life and that was not what you'd expect of the movie after seeing the nice looking woman's ass on the front DVD cover clad in tight blue jean shorts.

The acting was all over the place with some performances fairly good but most falling into the unfathomable region of "I made this movie on a bet so I don't care" nonchalance that seems far too common in independent movies. For the rare spark of intelligence displayed on occasion, there were dozens of missed opportunities that fell into the psychobabble malarkey that permeates way too many movies these days. Maybe, when the movie actually got off the ground and was about to be made, everyone involved with it knew that it would be a dog of a flick and decided to throw a mish mash of concepts into it in hopes that something great would take place. More likely was that freshman director Kasia Adamik and Ms. Morgan were given a shot at making a movie and didn't care that it would be realized so vastly differently than it should've been.

Whatever the case, there was far too little to like here and the movie bounced around between wanting to be funny and wanting to be serious with the viewer left to decide if the whole point of the movie was to showcase a schizophrenic approach to movie making that left them with a bad taste in the mouth. I'm rating this one as a Skip It although I'm sure someone out there, perhaps a revival of the old MST3K, could use this to make someone laugh on purpose (much of the time, I wondered if there was a budget for retakes, an actual script or if it were improvised, and if veteran storyboard artist Adamik should ever venture into directing again.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio non-anamorphic widescreen color. There was a soft focus and some edge enhancement but the most noticeable problem was the faded look to the colors. The print used for the DVD transfer wasn't great as it had a number of minor scratches and the use of contrast didn't help matters any. There were a number of moments with video noise too but it wasn't usually a major problem.

Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 stereo English with optional Spanish subtitles. There wasn't a lot of directionality here (I'd have guessed it was in monaural if not for a couple of moments and the labeling on the package) and it generally sounded slightly hollow but otherwise it was about what I'd expect from a low budget independent movie. The music score was basic enough and the vocals were okay but neither will impress you on any level.

Extras: 3 trailers

Final Thoughts: If the whole movie were edited down to a ten minute long short film, it might've had enough material to sustain itself or if the project had been a lot more focused, it might've handled the subject in a more interesting manner but as it was, it really stunk. I almost wish there had been an audio commentary so I'd get to hear from Morgan and Adamik what went through their minds on this one. The problem with that idea would be that I'd have to watch the movie again though and as much as I don't mind taking one for the team once in awhile, that'd be cruel and unusual punishment.

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