DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.
Afternoon Delight (2013)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/18/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/17/2014
The first rule of comedy is location, location, location. No, wait, that's not right. The first rule of comedy is timing. I don't know if there's a second rule, but if there is, it should have something to do with knowing how and when to have a gentle touch when delivering a joke, especially when it comes to satire. If satire is too overboard, then it usually loses sight of its target and becomes too broad. However, if it is too subtle, it won't feel like satire at all. That's the case with Afternoon Delight, a film which wants to poke holes in upper-class suburban life, but feels more like a documentary than a work of fiction.
Kathryn Hahn stars in Afternoon Delight as Rachel, a stay-at-home mother of one who is bored with her life. She volunteers at her son's school, sees her therapist (Jane Lynch), and spends time with her stay-at-home mom friends. She is married to Jeff (Josh Radnor), but they haven't had sex in months and she's very worried about their relationship. In order to spice things up, Rachel takes the advice of a friend and she and Josh go to a strip club. There, Rachel gets a lap dance from McKenna (Juno Temple), which makes her very uncomfortable. However, she can't get that night out of her mind and she drives back to the club in the daytime and runs into McKenna. Rachel begins to visit McKenna daily and when she learns that McKenna has no place to go, she invites the young woman to stay at her house, much to Jeff's surprise. Rachel likes having McKenna, who becomes a sort of nanny, around, even after she learns that McKenna is a prostitute as well. However, someone like McKenna can't come into a place like Rachel's house and not make waves.
Congratulations Writer/Director Jill Soloway, you've just earned the "Judd Apatow Out of Touch with Reality" Award. Not since Over 40 has a movie so blatantly thumbed its nose at the middle-class and demonstrated that it clearly has no idea what most of America is like or wants. From the outset, this movie has elitist stamped all over it, as we are treated to scene-after-scene of ideals which won't jibe with most viewers and will certainly anger some.
Movies with depict the wealthy is a tradition which started in the 1930s (during the Great Depression) and has persisted since. There's a certain fascination with the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" which draws the viewers into these films, especially those which portray a life which most of us can only imagine. Afternoon Delight goes in the wrong direction with this idea. Rachel and Josh are clearly wealthy, but they aren't happy. This is where the old adage "Money doesn't buy happiness" creeps in, but it doesn't fit here. It's very difficult for an audience to get behind a main character who lives a cushy lifestyle where she doesn't have to work and has resources at her disposal, but is unfulfilled. Rachel mentions that she wanted to be a journalist, but when her son was born, those dreams went away. Look, I have two kids which I co-parent, a full-time job, and I find time to write many, many movie review, so stop your complaining.
The movie then adds insult to injury by showing Rachel getting her car washed, seeing her therapist, and then stalking McKenna. Instead of doing these things while her son is in school (which may have actually been a pre-school), why doesn't she actually contribute to society? (Jeff has made his money making apps, so he doesn't come off much better.) One could argue that Rachel's work at the school is helpful, but the movie actually tries to make fun of this area of her life, with the introduction of Jennie (Michaela Watkins), the mom who is in charge of every volunteer event. The movie thinks that it's saying, "See how silly these moms are who live through their kids and go overboard on planning 'Craft Day'". But, all the movie is doing is portraying reality. If you are simply holding a mirror up to something that is real and not changing anything, that's not satire.
And then we have Rachel and Jeff's relationship. Again, congratulations Jill for perpetuating the stereotype that marriage is the worst thing ever and no married couples ever have sex. Bravo on that original thought. Here again, the movie wants us to feel sorry for Rachel, but how can we? Instead of going through car washes or chasing strippers, find a way to work on the issues! She never talks to Jeff about this and there are much better ways to spice up a marriage than going to a strip club. Which brings us to the McKenna character. Are we really supposed to believe that Rachel would let her stay in the house once she learns that McKenna is a "sex worker". Rachel is supposedly fascinated by this, as it's so different from her life, but this all rings as hollow. Oddly, McKenna ends up being a forgotten character, and yet the only sympathetic character in the movie. If you don't hate Rachel at the end, then there is something wrong with you.
Of all of Afternoon Delight's sins, the worst may come from the box art, which actually uses the word "comedy" and wants to depict the film as being light-hearted. Trust me, it's neither. There is one solid joke in the film and the rest of the movie is one depressing thing after another. The sad thing is that I've liked Kathryn Hahn in other things and it's great to see her trying something more dramatic, but Afternoon Delight fails on all fronts, despite having a very solid cast. This movie is a perfect example of why we will also have class warfare in the U.S., as some people simply don't get it.
Afternoon Delight has not redeeming features on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Cinedigm. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The image is never overly dark or bright, and the colors look very good, most notably pastels. The picture shows a nice amount of detail (although a few shots are soft) and the depth is appropriate. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a fairly quiet movie, with the only dynamic effects coming from the music in the club. We get some nice stereo effects from crowd scenes, but the surround and subwoofer effects are very subtle.
The Afternoon Delight Blu-ray Disc offers a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Jill Soloway and Kathryn Hahn. "Making Afternoon Delight" (9 minutes) is a very basic featurette in which Soloway, Hahn, Temple and Radnor provide comments in which they discuss the story and its themes, while various clips from the movie play. We get some on-set footage here. "The Gustavo House" (2 minutes) offers a look at the house used in the film, including comments from the architect. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes. Some of these are brand new scenes (one of which actually has something funny in it), while the others are longer versions of scenes from the finished film. We get a series of five featurettes -- "Becoming an Exotic Dancer", "Dr. Lenore", "Poker Night", "Rachel & McKenna", "Women & Wine" -- which run about 8 minutes total and focus on various aspects of the production, offering interviews with the cast and some behind-the-scenes footage. These feel like the kind of pieces which would be found on a film's website. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long