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Spring Breakdown (2009)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/2/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/27/2009

Available on iTunes

Welcome to yet another installment of "I know these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" (I was sort of kidding about turning it into a weekly column, but it may actually happen.) For this entry, none of the actors involved are necessarily "movie stars", but they are certainly recognizable faces. The question for this week is where was this movie meant to be shown.

Spring Breakdown introduces us to Gayle (Amy Poehler), Judi (Rachel Dratch), and Becky (Parker Posey) three friends who weren't very popular in college. Now in their thirties, their situations haven't improved. Gayle runs a guide-dog training school and can't get a date. Becky is an office manager for Senator Hartmann (Jane Lynch), but she really wants to be directly involved in politics. Judi is engaged to William (Seth Meyers), a man who is apparently gay. The group begins to plan their annual vacation trip, but can't decide where to go. When Senator Hartmann assigns Becky to watch over her daughter, Ashley (Amber Tamblyn), while she is on spring break, Gayle and Judi decide to go with her. Soon, the trio finds themselves at South Padre Island, surrounded by drunken college students. Becky is able to track down Ashley, and learns that she's anything but a party girl. Meanwhile, Gayle falls in with a group of evil college girls while Judi falls in love with a mystery man. Are the women there to take their annual trip or to try and live their college years over again?

Simply put, Spring Breakdown is an odd little movie. Again, this one sort of came out of nowhere. As far as I can tell, this is a new movie -- that is, it isn't something which was shot years ago and has been sitting on a shelf somewhere. The movie is Rated R for "Crude Humor and Sexual References", but I actually noticed the lack of profanity in the film. There is one "F-bomb", but otherwise, the dialogue seems to be going out of its way to avoid certain words and terms. While there are plenty of scantily-clad women in the beach scenes, there is no nudity. In many ways, this reminded me of something which would be made for pay-cable, on something like FX.

Then we have the material itself. The movie was written by Director Ryan Shiraki (who has apparently worked on Saturday Night Live), from a story by Shiraki and Rachel Dratch. Simply put, there is nothing original here. At the outset of the audio commentary, Rachel Dratch states that she wanted to see a comedy which revolved around female characters, as a reaction to seeing so many male comedies. That's interesting, as the main premise here borrows from movies like Old School. Spring Breakdown simply takes the "we're thirtysomething and our lives suck" idea that we've seen in other movies and places women in the leads. Once Gayle, Judi, and Becky arrive at South Padre Island, the story becomes very predictable. We know that someone is going to do something embarrassing, we know that the friends are going to fight, and we know that they'll reconcile. I can't say that I saw the talent show coming...but I've seen Revenge of the Nerds, so I should have.

So, Spring Breakdown is a complete waste, right? Actually, it isn't. The movie has two things going for it. The first and most obvious one is the cast. Poehler, Posey, Dratch, and Lynch are all very funny women and they put their talents to work here. They are surrounded by a great supporting cast and good cameos as well, from the likes of Missi Pyle, Will Arnett, Mae Whitman (from Arrested Development), Loretta Devine, Jack McBrayer, and Mindy Sterling. (Clearly someone called some of their friends!) Typically, having this many funny people in one place would spell disaster, but each person contribute some humorous moments. Secondly, the movie does have some funny lines. Again, the plot is practically non-existent, but each scene has at least one funny line. Spring Breakdown isn't a comedy classic and truth be told, I would have expected more from this group, but the movie is still funny at times and is a capable distraction.

Spring Breakdown won't remember any of the trip on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing slight grain in some shots and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. Still, the depth and detail are merely passable and at no time did I think "Now this is what a Blu-ray should look like!" The Disc carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 640 kbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As this isn't a lossless track, we get fairly average sound here. There are some modest stereo effects in crowd scenes, and the in-film music offers capable surround and bass effects.

The Spring Breakdown Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Ryan Shiraki and Writer Rachel Dratch. This is a somewhat odd commentary, as the two remain very low-key throughout. Essentially, they spend each scene admitting that they don't really understand why anyone would want to do any of what is being portrayed on-screen. That aside, they share information about the cast and where the film was shot. The Disc contains 4 ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 3 minutes. The first three of these are quite brief and only contain a few seconds of new footage, but the last one, with Seth Meyers is worth watching. Finally, we get a 2-minute GAG REEL.

Warner Home Video has also brought Spring Breakdown to DVD. The film is letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The picture is sharp and clear, but it also look slightly washed out at times. The level of detail is noticeably less than that found on the Blu-ray Disc. The image shows some mild artifacting at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Essentially, this is the same track found on the Blu-ray Disc.

The extras on the Spring Breakdown DVD are the same as those on the Blu-ray Disc. Oddly, the DVD doesn't have a chapter menu.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long