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Hit by Lightning (2014)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
DVD Released: 4/21/2015

All Ratings out of

Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/6/2015

Save for complete washouts, sports fans know that there are two kinds of athletes in professional sports. The first is the person who is a star from the second they hit the field/court. They were big in college and they immediately come in and begin to dominate and uphold their reputation. The second kind is the one who pays their dues, seeing their playing time steadily increase until they become a star as well. While both are fun to watch, there's something satisfying to the armchair quarterback with the guy who worked to get where he is. We see something similar in show business. Ricky Blitt started out writing for various television shows, until he got a steady gig as a writer and producer on Family Guy. He then wrote the screenplay for The Ringer (a wildly underrated movie). Now, he has directed his first feature film, showing that perseverance can pay off. But is Hit by Lightning worth the wait?

Jon Cryer stars in Hit by Lightning as Ricky Miller, a single, 40-year old, who is the manager of a mid-range restaurant. Aside from his best friend, Seth (Will Sasso), Ricky is a lonely guy who feels that’s his chance to meet someone and fall in love has passed him by. Desperate, he tries the internet dating site EHappily, and through this he meets Danita (Stephanie Szostak). Ricky can’t believe that someone as beautiful as Danita would use a dating site, and he’s even more surprised by how much they have in common. In short, Ricky is immediately smitten. However, Danita hides some dark secrets and she makes some troubling demands of Ricky. How far will he go to find happiness?

Looking at Blitt’s resume, you can see that he’s worked on some edgy stuff. Along with the aforementioned Family Guy and The Ringer, he also did a pilot called “Being Bin Laden” and his latest project is something entitled “Here’s Your Damn Family”. So, it’s surprising just how tame, if not dull Hit by Lightning is. Obviously Family Guy is one of the most envelope-pushing shows ever and The Ringer really brought good taste into question with its premise. But other than a few throw-away lines, Hit by Lightning really plays it safe. The opening scene makes one think that it's not going to pull any punches, but the rest of the film clearly wants to be pretty user-friendly. In addition, those who actually saw The Ringer found that it actually has a lot of heart, as do some episodes of Family Guy. But, there's nothing particularly moving or involving in Hit by Lightning.

Those things aside, the most surprising thing about the movie is how uninspired it is. Perhaps Blitt wanted to play it very safe with his directorial debut, but the movie offers few if any fresh ideas, and the couple that do appear go nowhere. The movie really adds insult to injury when Seth makes Ricky watch a movie in order to show him an example of what could be happening in his relationship with Danita. When a movie brings up another movie to prove how unoriginal its idea is, something has gone horribly wrong. (Yes, I realize that the movie named in Hit by Lightning is not in the same genre, but that doesn't matter.) The story here is so paint-by-numbers that one hopes that Blitt is simply setting us up to parody the cliched ideas, but he never does and the film remains utterly predictable throughout.

Having done twelve seasons of hit television show Two and a Half Men, for which he was nominated for seven Emmys, winning two, you would think that Jon Cryer would have plenty of money. So, why would he want to appear in this movie? I've actually never seen a single episode of Two and a Half Men, but from the clips I've seen, Cryer's character acts a lot like Ricky, so I don't think it was because he wanted to branch out. Perhaps the project was originally supposed to have more of an edge. As it stands, we are left with a very pedestrian movie which offers a couple of laughs, but never rises above a made-for-TV level of quality and leaves of wondering if Blitt should simply stick to writing.

Hit by Lightning does offer some positive promotion for cats on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture does look somewhat flat though, and it doesn't have the sort of crispness one would expect from a modern movie. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some very mild stereo and surround effects from scenes in the restaurant and a similar response comes from musical cues. Otherwise, this is a standard comedy which doesn't feature many dynamic audio effects.

The Hit by Lightning DVD contains no special features.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long