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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Stark Raving Mad
Stark Raving Mad
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // January 13, 2004
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted January 5, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Movie:

Seann William Scott (American Pie, Road Trip) plays Ben McGewen, a small time hustler who owe a huge sum of money to a mobster, Gregory (Lou Diamond Phillips.)  Gregory will forgive the debt if Ben steals an ancient Chinese statue from a bank vault.  If he fails, Gregory will kill him.  As the movie begins, six months of planning are about to pay off.  Ben rented a club that is next door to the bank, and is going to hold a rave.  While the people are dancing the night away, he and his team are going to circumvent the security, blow a hole in the basement wall, sneak into the bank, and steal the statue.  Unfortunately, everything that can go wrong does.

I was fairly apprehensive when I received  this disc to review.  I hadn't heard a lot about this movie, but it was supposedly a heist movie that was funny.  It was released straight to DVD in the US.  And it stared Stifler from American Pie.  Ohh, that didn't sound good.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Scott in American Pie and Road Trip, but he's played the exact same role in just about every movie he's been in.  So I was expecting this to be a wacky comedy that was pinned onto a crime backdrop.  I was wrong.  This is first and foremost a drama, that just happens to be funny.  Scott does a great job as Ben, much better than I imagined.  He plays his character with the right amounts of confidence and worry.  He doesn't overact, or play up the humor in the roll, which would have been easy to do.

The movie itself is very entertaining.  There is a lot of humor in this drama, but that doesn't distract from the seriousness of the situation.  Its about equal parts of Fight Club and James Bond with a little bit of After Hours thrown in, for good measure.  The movie has a fast pace and the plot travels forward at a good clip but not so fast that it becomes hectic.

Lou Diamond Phillips was excellent as Gregory, the gangster boss.  He plays the role of a powerful and sadistic crook very well.  Gregory is calm and genteel at times, and psychotic at others.  Phillips is able to fold both those traits into a single character and make it seem natural.  Dave Foley, of Kids in the Hall fame, is good in his supporting role as an FBI agent also.

One thing that I was really happy to see was an accurately depicted rave.  It doesn't happen often.  The played the right type of music (not pop stuff you'd hear on a radio) and the club was dark.  I hate when directors stage raves in brightly lit rooms and the latest top ten hit blaring.  It just isn't like that.  Haven't these guys ever been to a club?

The movie's style was very reminiscent of a music video.  There was a lot of quick cutting, abrupt zooms, and many jump cuts.  This worked splendidly giving the movie a kinetic feeling, just like being at a rave.  The co-writers/directors created a great feel for the film.

I really only have two grips with the movie.  The first is the title.  Stark Raving Mad could be anything, but with Scott's name attached, it implies wild and wacky party humor, which the film isn't.   I realize the creators wanted to make a play on words with the rave in the movie, but I think they made a poor choice.

The other thing that didn't work for me was character of Ben's friend, Rikki.  I never did understand why he was involved.  Timm Sharpe does a good job as the bumbling sidekick, but it just wasn't realistic that someone would trust their life to this nervous, twitchy, idiot.  I thought the movie would have been tighter without this character.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable film.  It's not a great cinematic achievement by any means, but it is a really fun movie.  The plot is strong enough to hold your interest, and the script manages to be funny without turning the whole production into camp. The ending worked perfectly too.

The DVD:


You can view this DVD with either an English or French 5.1 mix.  The sound quality is good.  No distortion or noise, and the dialog is reproduced accurately.  The mix on this movie is excellent.  Too often the rear channels are used for big explosions and loud party scene, but ignored during the rest of the time.  That doesn't happen with this movie.   There is music coming from all five speakers for the scenes that take place in the club, of course, but it doesn't collapse into a stereo mix once the flashy scenes are over.  There is sound emanating from the rear channels for most of the movie.  It does a very good job of putting the viewer in the middle of a scene.


This movie is in widescreen and enhanced for 16:9 televisions.  The video quality was pretty good.  Taking place in a club at night, just about all of the scenes are dark, as the directors intended.  So colors are not bright and things aren't vivid, but they are accurately reproduced.  The blacks are dark black, and a good amount of detail is visible in the shadows.  There were a few minor digital artifacts lurking in the backgrounds, but they were very minor.

The Extras:

Behind the Scenes:  An eight minute feature were the actors talk about their characters.  Better than the average fluff piece, but there's not a lot of in depth interviewing you can do in eight minutes.

Commentary:  The two people who wrote and directed the film together, Drew Daywalt and David Schneider, are joined by Seann William Scott for the commentary track.  The three of them do a good job commenting on the film.  They give a lot of background information on the actors in the film and tell a lot of anecdotes about the shoot.  There is not a lot of technical information given.  They do manage to talk through the whole film with nary a break, and managed to be amusing throughout.

Story Boards:  Story board drawings to four scenes from the movie.

There is also a trailer to the movie.

Final Thoughts:

I was suprised at how much I enjoyed this movie.  It's not great art, but neither are the James Bond movies.  Seann William Scott does a surprisingly good job.  If you are in the mood for a good, fun romp, you should check this movie out.  Highly Recommended.

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