High Road (2011) (NTSC)

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Released 18-Apr-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Interviews-Cast & Crew-Cast and Crew Interviews (15:13)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 85:05 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Matt Walsh
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Kathryn Burns
Lizzy Caplan
Michael Coleman
Andrew Daly
Abby Elliott
Kyle Gass
James Pumphrey
Ed Helms
Joe Lo Truglio
Rob Riggle
Horatio Sanz
Matt L. Jones
Seth Morris
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music George Stanford


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (320Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     High Road sounds like a stoner comedy, like Pineapple Express (the 2008 film starring Seth Rogan and James Franco and produced by Judd Apatow). It's not though, despite starring some familiar comedy stars and the title of the film suggesting otherwise. It's a mix between a road movie and a coming-of-age film, but even that description fails to define High Road's film genre.

     Matt Walsh and Josh Weiner wrote the screenplay, or the outline of one and Walsh, a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, gathered his friends to fill out the cast roles, encouraging them to improvise within the scenes that he and Wiener and scripted. The result of this improvisation is an inconsistent tone throughout the film. The acting performances range from average to bad. Scenes play out too long as there is only something like a dozen scenes in this eighty-five minute film. The comedy tries to come across as clever and ironic, only High Road is not that funny.

     High Road is like a series of sketches put together, but not in a disjointed way as was Movie 43. For example, Fitz and Jimmy visit a doctor’s office to check out Jimmy's arm. The doctor, played by Horatio Sanz, opines what is wrong with Jimmy's arm and then talks about how many young boys he's seen naked and how attractive he thinks Jimmy is. Fitz and Jimmy then drive off, make another unwarranted stop and Jimmy wanders off, while Fitz waits outside their van. He’s approached by a hooker (Morgan Walsh, wife of the director). She asks if he wants some action, he responds by rejecting her. Then we get the purpose of this scene: how often two actors can say the word "faggot" in a scene. It comes across as pointless and infantile.

     One scene features a character, Officer Fogerty (played by Joe Lo Truglio - you'll remember him as Francis the loser in Superbad) discussing the possible incestuous relationship between the members of the White Stripes and ends with him discussing Gary Glitter’s history of paedophilia.

     When the movie finally gets to where it needs to end up (which takes an unnecessary long time, in my opinion), we get some humour about transvestism (you'll have to watch the film to find out why), then a fuzzy moral about the importance of family and personal responsibility. With all the jokes about child molestation and incest, and homophobic slurs chucked in for good measure, it's a bit difficult to define what High Road is about. It's a disjointed movie, which most probably explains why it was released direct-to-dvd after premiering at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Region 4 DVD is an exact port of the Region 1 DVD release, even including a 480i NTSC video transfer.

     High Road is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The average bitrate of High Road is 5.1 m/b per sec, which is a bit below average for DVD.

     Colour is slightly muted, resulting in a flat, slightly dull look to the image.

     Shot on low-grade digital cameras, the video transfer contains aliasing and low level noise in darker scenes.

     Subtitles are available in English for the hard of hearing and Spanish.

     There is no RSDL change because the movie is featured on a single-layered DVD-5 disc.

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

Audio

     The audio transfer is as uneventful as the video transfer.

     There are two audio tracks, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at a low 320 kbps (standard DVD encoding is 448 kbps for a 5.1 track, or less commonly 384 kbps) and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track encoded at 192 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear most of the time, except for some scenes containing overlapping dialogue. At least the audio is synchronised!

     The film's opening scene features a song written by James Pumphrey, who plays the main character Fitz, but the film becomes dialogue-heavy thereafter.

     Apart from the opening White Stripes cover band song, which utilises all the front and rear speakers, the surround mix is spread across the front three speakers.

     The subwoofer is only active in the opening scene song and is mainly quiet thereafter.

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

Extras

Cast and Crew Interviews (15:13)

     Horatio Sanz, James Pumphrey, Joe Lo Truglio and Lizzy Caplan provide interviews which are part serious, but mostly attempts at being funny. They discuss shooting improvised scenes, different aspects of the characters, the obstacles in the film, the work of the cast, developing the characters, and costume designs and choices. This extra feels like a stereotypical 'EPK' (Electronic Press Kit) featurette, only funnier!

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 Australian DVD is identical to the Region 1 United States DVD release.

Summary

    High Road is a low-budget independent attempt at improvised comedy that fails to come off. My recommendation is that one viewing is enough, it doesn't bear repeats. This is good for a Friday or Saturday night rental only.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Thursday, July 11, 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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