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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/3/2013

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/25/2013

OK, imagine this scenario: You are an up and coming young filmmaker. You have worked with the likes of Sir Ben Kingsley, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Malkovich, and Seth Rogen. One of your films received multiple Golden Globe nominations. So, you've clearly achieved some level of success, but here's the weird thing -- you're first film has played in multiple countries around the world, but not the United States. That must seem very weird. This is the reality of Jonathan Levine, the director of 50/50 and Warm Bodies. His first film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has become the stuff of unseen legend, and is now finally getting a U.S. release.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is a high-school student and the object of many boys fantasies. Following a bizarre incident involving her awkward friend Emmet (Michael Welch), Mandy falls in with the cool kids at school. She's invited to a weekend at Red's (Aaron Himelstein) family ranch. Also along on the trip are Jake (Luke Grimes), Bird (Edwin Hodge), Marlin (Melissa Price), and Chloe (Whitney Able). Once there, they meet Garth (Anson Mounty), the ranch caretaker. Mandy and her new friends commence indulging in drugs and alcohol, which leads to some tempers flaring. Even worse, members of the group begin to disappear. Is someone stalking the group?

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has a somewhat checkered history. It was shot in 2005 and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006, where it was purchased. However, for reasons which remain vague, the film had a sporadic release schedule. After playing some film festivals, in 2008, the movie began to open in various parts of the world. The release dates began in Europe and then moved through the Middle East and Asia. However, the film did not appear in America, joining a long line of Weinstein movies which go unreleased. Now, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is finally available for viewing in the U.S.

While watching the film, my wife asked, "Why did you want to see this?" I explained to her that with a movie like this, A) the fact that everyone in the world has seen it but me is a motivating factor, but more importantly, B) I like to see if I can figure out what it is about this movie which made it unreleaseable. Sometimes, the specifics of this can be hard to spot and one walks away saying, "I've seen worse." I can certainly say that I've seen worse than All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, but I also had absolutely no problem figuring out why the movie had struggled to make it before an audience.

From the outset, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane has no idea what kind of movie that it wants to be and it also isn't interested in giving many plot details to the audience. The movie simply starts and we get very little characterization. The stereotype are easy to identify (jock, queen bee, stoner, etc.), but who are these people and how do they know one another? The opening scene features an incident which should have landed someone in jail, but the story then leaps ahead nine months without giving us any details of what happened following that opening scene. We learn a little bit about Mandy's life, but these details are never explored and they never come back in the end. So, the ultimate question becomes, why do the boys love Mandy Lane? Sure, Amber Heard is attractive, but, outside of that, we are given zero criteria for why the guys would be after her. Her aloofness borders on catatonia at times, and she certainly isn't the life of the party.

Once the action (and I use that term loosely) moves to the ranch, the movie becomes very tedious and boring as we wait for the actual story to show up. But, there really isn't one. A few characters get killed, but then the killer is revealed very early on, so this doesn't qualify as a murder mystery. So, the audience simply sits there saying what I say at high-price restaurants -- "There has to be more than this." Yes, there is finally a twist at the end, but if you haven't seen it coming, then you don't have any imagination whatsoever.

To give a clearer picture of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, just imagine I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream, but without any plot twists, detailed characters, or anything truly resembling a story. This is the cinematic equivalent of someone beginning an anecdote and then slowly drifting off to sleep while telling it. As for Jonathan Levine, the first scene has a chilling moment where a sound effect is used very well, so he does show promise here. Otherwise, the direction is fairly pedestrian, save for some odd moments where he tries to give the movie a dream-like quality. The bottom line is that All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was certainly not worth waiting seven years for and I have a feeling that there will be many horror fans who share that feeling.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane offers yet another in a long line of unrealistic teenage parties on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear for the most part, and we don't get any defects from the source materials. However, there is some mild grain in some shots. In the audio commentary included on the disc, Levin describes the film as having golden tones. With this transfer, the movie simply looks washed out. He states that he was going for a 70s look, and it certainly looks like an old movie -- one which was transferred from a well-worn print. The colors are very desaturated and some shots look too bright. One can't help but wonder if the HD picture isn't making these stylistic choices look worse than intended, but the impression that I got was that this older movie was slapped on Blu-ray without giving the video a good once over. The Disc carries a
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The first thing that you'll notice about this track is that it's loud. I have to set my receiver about 10 points lower than usual. Beyond that, the track does provide some nice stereo and surround effects. During the scenes at the ranch, several things occur off-screen and these are well-placed in the front and rear channels. However, the subwoofer effects are notably mild compared to the rest of the audio.

The lone extra on the All the Boys Love Mandy Lane Blu-ray Disc is an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Jonathan Levine. This is a modern commentary and Levine opens by saying that he hadn't seen the film in seven years. He does a good job of remembering things and is only semi-critical of the movie.

Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long