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Frankie Go Boom (2012)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/14/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/8/2013
Do you think of 1999's American Pie as a ground-breaking film? (And I don't mean because it was so frank in its depiction of dessert-related love.) That was the first movie which I can think of which introduced the idea of viral videos being used for comedic purposes. Fast forward to today when we are constantly being bombarded by viral videos. Even if you are the kind of person who doesn't seek them out, they are featured on the news or someone is most likely forwarding them to you. They've become a part of entertainment as well, and we've now seen this phenomenon featured in many movies, but few of them have offered viral videos as the basis for the story. Frankie Go Boom decides to mine this fertile territory, but does it get it right?
As children, Bruce loved to make home movies, and his little brother, Frankie, was often the unwilling or unsuspecting star of these projects. Now adults, Frankie (Charlie Hunnam) lives by himself in a trailer in the desert, where he works on his writing. His primary goal is to avoid his family. This is challenged when his mother (Nora Dunn) calls to say that Bruce (Chris O'Dowd) is graduating from rehab, and Frankie reluctantly agrees to attend. At the ceremony, we learn that Bruce posted Frankie's humiliating wedding video on-line, and act for which Frankie still hasn't forgiven him. We also see that Bruce still longs to be a director (he always has a video camera with him), and he has newfound hope for this, as he's befriended washed up actor Jack (Chris Noth) and adult star Dharma D-Cups (Kate Luyben) while in treatment. That night, Frankie has a chance encounter with an inebriated woman (Lizzy Caplan) and they have a rendezvous in the shed behind Frankie's parent's house. Little does Frankie know that Bruce captured the entire thing on video and Frankie must do whatever he can to keep it from going public.
Farcical comedies have been around forever and many of them have featured sad-sack comic heroes who are the butt of many jokes. However, The Farrelly Brothers forever changed the face of this sub-genre in 1998 with There's Something About Mary. Although he was positioned as the central figure in the film, Ben Stiller's character was subjected to a myriad of physically and emotionally abusive situations. (The Farrelly and Stiller repeated this notion in the criminally underratedThe Heartbreak Kid.) That film set the bar for how far a movie could push a character and still keeps things funny.
Writer/Director Jordan Roberts clearly wants Frankie Go Boom to be the spiritual successor to There's Something About Mary, but he clearly doesn't know how to draw that line between mean-spirited/obnoxious and funny. When you look at an overview of the film, all of the pieces are there. We have Frankie, the down-trodden hero, Bruce, the insufferable, but well-meaning brother, Lassie, Frankie's love interest, and Jack, the wild card. But, Roberts can't put these pieces together in a way which makes the characters care about what's going on. For starters, everyone's back-story is either too vague or too convenient. None of the characters have any depth whatsoever. Jack is such as caricature of a caricature that we wonder what he's even doing in the movie. As such, their motivations never ring true. When Frankie realized that Bruce and his parents haven't changed, why didn't he simply leave?
The story itself is very episodic and never obtains any narrative flow. We simply watch Frankie react to one bad situation after another. Once Frankie realizes that he must intercept Bruce's video, the movie dissolves into stereotypical sitcom territory in which our hero must face one moment after another in which he almost gets caught. It's clear that Roberts goal for all of this is madcap comedic insanity, but Frankie Go Boom is painfully unfunny. I don't think I did more than chuckle at any point in the film. The jokes fall flat and, again, Roberts can find the right tone to abuse Frankie and still make it funny. A radically tone-deaf scene involving a pig shows just how far Frankie Go Boom is from hitting the mark. If you can't make a pig funny, then you may as well give up.
It's frustrating when a movie wastes a good central premise. The notion of a man whose life has been ruined by viral videos is a timely one, and the fact that his brother is at the root of the problem offers any more comic potential. Unfortunately, Frankie Go Boom has no clue what to do with this idea and it assumes that simply hurling crude jokes at the viewer will do the trick. When a movie about viral videos is making you wish that you actually were watching viral videos, you know you're in trouble.
Frankie Go Boom must have had one heck of a cardboard box budget on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer (haven't seen one of those in a while) which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The amount of depth is good and the picture never looks flat. The image is somewhat soft at times, which does effect the level of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a comedy, we don't get a lot of notable audio effects here. Crowd scenes show acceptable levels of surround sound and some stereo effects highlight sounds from the left or right of the screen. A few gunshots get the subwoofer involved.
The Frankie Go Boom Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extras. "Behind the Scenes) (8 minutes) offers a smattering of on-set footage and some clips from the film, but the bulk of this piece is taken up by interviews with Writer/Director Jordan Roberts and the primary cast, who discuss their reaction to the script and their work on the film. The Disc contains six DELTED AND ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 11 minutes, including introductions by Roberts. Most of these are quite brief, and don't introduce any new subplots or characters. "Pig in the Pool" (81 seconds) takes us on-set to see the pig wrangler at work. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.