Viva Las Nowhere (2000)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 93:47
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jason Bloom
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Daniel Stern
James Caan
Patrica Richardson
Lacey Kohl
Sherry Stringfield
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Andre Gross


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action during end credits

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

Plot Synopsis

I'm Still Missing You, But My Aim is Getting Better

    That's just one of the many lampooned country music song titles that I have seen around which could so easily summarise the plot for this awful film. It really is an amalgam of all the desperate, dumb-ass shenanigans that abound in so many of the sillier country songs.

    Viva Las Nowhere is a black comedy about a Midwest motel owner named Frank Jacobs (Daniel Stern). His motel is smack bang in the geographic centre of continental United States (even though it was filmed in Canada), and is basically in the middle of nowhere. Frank is a bit of a bard and crooner who desperately wants a career as a country music singer-songwriter. He is also a complete loser. Unfortunately for him, he lives in the motel with his extremely uptight and haughty wife Helen (Patricia Richardson). She hates Frank even contemplating a singing career and basically saps any enjoyment he has from his life. She's the sort of woman that would appear in the song I Wouldn't Take Her To A Dog Fight, Cause I'm Afraid She'd Win. However, Frank's luck appears set to change when local country legend Roy Baker (James Caan) and his sidekick vocalist Julie (Lacey Kohl) ride into town to perform a show. The two have a bust-up and Frank naturally saves the day and rescues the lovely blonde from the clutches of the Willie Nelson look-alike. He lets her stay at the motel, but Helen is not impressed, and the two ladies begin a battle which ends up with one of them finding a permanent home buried in the tomato patch. From here the story takes on more twists and turns as the body count mounts and Frank desperately tries to save the day. He finds an ally in Marguerite (Sherry Stringfield from ER), the local bar-maid, and together they try to get the mess of bodies sorted out.

    For the video release in the United States this was retitled Dead Simple. I think Dead Stupid would have been a more accurate description. It is supposedly a black comedy from director Jason Bloom, whose previous two works (Bio-Dome and Overnight Delivery) don't exactly spring to mind as the most memorable of films. It's a terrible mish-mash that tries to take the black comedic route, but just comes across as plain dumb. The cast is actually quite well-known and what the heck they were doing here is beyond reason.

I Would Have Wrote You A Letter But I Couldn't Spell Yuck!

 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is far from a stunning video transfer, but it does the job with few major problems to report. It's sharp enough without having to resort to any real obvious edge enhancement and the grain is kept to a minimum most of the time. On occasions the image becomes a little softer and the grain ramps up slightly. It's not that distracting, just annoying. Shadow detail is a little lacking at times, especially around the outside of the motel, but this appears intentional and source related. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are adequate. The offer a mixed palette which, while exhibiting few problems, offer little in the way of vibrancy or anything to get excited over. There are no problems with colour bleeding.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Film artefacts are present, though mostly are quite small and unobtrusive.

    The English only subtitles are mostly accurate with only a few words and sentences abridged throughout.

    This is a single layered disc only, so there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio is limited to only one soundtrack. This is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at a bitrate of 320 Kb/s. There is no surround flag embedded in this soundtrack. It's actually not a bad soundtrack, despite the limitations of only using two speakers. It packs enough punch and the dynamic range is more than adequate with some really nice solid bass work.

    Dialogue is fine but some of the accents are diabolical. There are no disc authoring problems with audio sync, just plenty of bad ADR and miming work. Check out the worst example since a Milli Vanilli single when Sherry Stringfield's character Margueruite murders a song around 87:34.

    Music is pretty much limited to a mixed bag of country tunes. From the credits it appears that Daniel Stern and James Caan do actually sing a few of their numbers. You have been warned.

    There is no surround nor subwoofer use.

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

Extras

Dolby Digital Trailer - Egypt

Theatrical Trailer

    The trailer runs for 1:47 minutes and is presented full frame 1.33:1. It gives away pretty much all the plot points but doesn't really paint the film as a black comedy.

R4 vs R1

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

    As I mentioned above in the plot synopsis, this film was released in Region 1 as Dead Simple. It has a few more extras than the Region 4 disc if you are desperate enough to need them.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on

    Obviously, the Region 1 disc is the clear winner here.

Summary

    I really didn't find Viva Las Nowhere entertaining at all. It's like a bad country song. You just want it to end. It's supposed to be a black comedy, but it just doesn't hit the right notes or offer the right twists to do that sub-genre justice. It's just plain stupid.

    The video is adequate. It's not top shelf, but there are no serious problems.

    The audio is limited to two channels only.

    The extra is just that. One trailer is all we get compared to the extra-filled Region 1 disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, May 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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