What Love Is (2007)

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Released 6-Feb-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 84:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mars Callahan
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
Matthew Lillard
Sean Astin
Mars Callahan
Andrew Daly
Gina Gershon
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $9.95 Music Erik Godal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Goofs and Outtakes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     What Love Is was the last film Big Sky Motion Pictures produced prior to 2007 when they ran into financial difficulty. In 2008, they were ordered to desist-and-refrain from illicit selling of securities in the state of California. In 2009, they attempted to justify that their still unreleased project, Spring Break '83, was shown at the Sundance Festival to investors by screening a teaser for the film nearby at a private party. Big Sky Motion Pictures state on their website that they develop and create their own projects in-house, without incurring "major studio" expenses. Typically, major studios engage in costly bidding wars over new material, much of which never gets produced. Big Sky generates its own scripts; therefore, as projects are chosen, Big Sky simply makes the film, completely bypassing the time-consuming and expensive development processes that are standard operating procedure within the major studios. The problem with this rhetoric is the fact that writer/director/producer and Big Sky Motion Pictures C.E.O Mars Callahan (who has written and directed all the scripts that Big Sky have produced) and his partner, executive producer Rand Chortkoff, had the Screen Actors Guild shut down production on their last project, Spring Break '83 in November, 2007 for failing to pay extras. The reason I mention all this in this review is to give you, the reader, a fuller insight into why this film, What Love Is, is so bad that you are best foregoing or not bothering with it at all. If you do watch it, at least you'll know why it was made this way. (Perhaps art is imitating life here, remember the premise to the 1968 Mel Brooks film, The Producers?)

     The basic plot (and that is what it is...basic!), according to the film's website, is that What Love Is is a sincere, insightful and unapologetically frank romantic comedy about a man who finds out, during the course of one very important night in his life, what love truly is. The story opens on Tom Riley (Cuba Gooding Jr.) as he nervously has one drink at his neighbourhood bar in order to steady himself before he heads home to ask his long-time girlfriend, Sara (Victoria Pratt), if she will marry him. It’s Valentine’s Day and he’s got the ring, he’s got the flowers and now that he has his one drink, he’s got the courage. He tells his group of best friends at the bar to meet him at his house for a surprise celebration in half an hour then he grabs a bottle of champagne and heads home.

     The outline sounds interesting until you find out that Sara has written a 'Dear John' letter and packed all her things, excepting two bags, for which she'll come back and pick up later. Meanwhile, Tom is distraught, and after a series of crude and explicit conversations about relationships and women, he resolves to let Sara work things out for herself. Why Sara wants to leave after having been with Tom for three years is never revealed, perhaps this was a seriously major oversight on the part of writer Mars Callahan, who should have learnt the art of script revision that major Hollywood studios are famous for, and for good reason!

     The whole movie practically takes place on two sets, (in homage to Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope), Tom's living house and his bathroom, where a group of ladies come and discuss relationships and men in the same crude and explicit way the men do in the first act of the film. Just how actors such as Matthew Lillard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sean Astin, Gina Gershon and Anne Heche got involved in this project is beyond me; they should all fire their agents in my opinion! The film is rated MA for the sexually explicit and coarse language used, but it would have been better if it was rated R to warn viewers of dialogue in the film which is homophobic, misogynistic, offensive and worthless.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     What Love Is has no shots that take place in the daytime, which would qualify it for a rare honour because even a film like Dark City contains a bright daytime scene at its conclusion!

     The aspect ratio is 1:85:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     What Love Is is presented on a 4.34 gb DVD with an average bitrate of 6.85 m/b per sec, which is fine for DVD.

     The colour timing looks fine considering that the whole film was shot on an internal set.

     There are no major film-to-video artefacts here.

     Subtitles are available in English.

     There is no RSDL change because the movie is featured on a single-layered DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This is a dialogue-heavy film featuring many actors with lines which are continuous. There is barely a pause in the film.

     The main audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. A second audio option is available to view the film with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track. A Descriptive Audio track is available for viewers hard of hearing. Both these secondary tracks are encoded at 192 kbps.

     The dialogue is continually overlapping, in the tradition of Robert Altman, due to the ensemble cast; however, in this case the dialogue is too fast overall and it lasts the length of the movie. I would suggest watching it with subtitles if you choose to.

     The music soundtrack includes Etta James' Something's Got A Hold On Me, which opens the film, EMF's Unbelievable, Groove Is In The Heart by Deee-Lite and One For My Baby (And One More for The Road) by Frank Sinatra.

     The surround channels are not utilised often due to the emphasis on dialogue in most scenes.

     The subwoofer is rarely noticed either.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras. Usually this is a bad thing, but in this case watching the movie was bad enough!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 United States DVD release includes a commentary by writer/director Mars Callahan and producers George Bours and John Hermansen, and a 'making-of' featurette.

Summary

     What Love Is features a dedication to Rod Steiger and producer Bob Newmyer in the credits, as they had passed away at the time of filming the project. I would say both men would have turned in their graves if they had known that they would be associated with a film like this. There's even goofs and outtakes in the closing credits, as if the audience needs to see more of Mars Callahan, after he sits behind the bar in the living room as Ken, the philosophical and 'smart' neighbour who provides us 'wise' insights. Again, Callahan should have learnt not to do this after Peter Sellers was so famously shown out-of-character in the closing credits of Being There; the audience do not want to see main characters presented this way at the end of a film!

     In summary, the only positive note I have to share is the fact that Roadshow are distributing this drivel in Australia, and for that I do admire their willingness to believe in a project which was so misguided from the beginning.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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