Stolen Summer (2002)

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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 Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 88:52
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Pete Jones
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Aidan Quinn
Bonnie Hunt
Kevin Pollak
Brian Dennehy
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Adi Stein
Mike Weinberg
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Danny Lux


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

I'm Catholic
What's that like?
It's noisier

    I need to take a couple of steps back before launching into the plot synopsis and explaining my favourite line of dialogue from this film which, in a light-hearted way, touches on the differences between Catholicism and Judaism.

    The full title of this film is Project Greenlight's Stolen Summer and it is actually the end result of a reality television series in the US. It was created by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Chris Moore with the help of Miramax (in terms of handing over a million or so dollars). The lads had the idea of conducting a competition to uncover a budding film director. Entries were sought from novice writers/directors for a possible script idea and the list of some 10,000 was whittled down to several hundred and then to an even ten. All of this selection process was filmed and turned into the first couple of episodes of the reality television series called Project Greenlight which aired on US cable station HBO - it's a bit like Popstars I guess, just with a lot more money to play with at the end.

    Ultimately, the judges chose a script from a guy called Pete Jones. He was then given the task of turning his idea into a feature film, with a million dollar budget and a distribution deal through selected cinemas in the country. Of course, after he was given the greenlight (ah! so that's where the name came from), the cameras would follow his every move, as this rookie director basically learnt on the job and made his film. A big break for sure and I bet it all made for quite interesting reality television. I won't comment any further on the HBO series, as I haven't seen it and have no idea if it was successful, interesting, or a load of old rubbish. What I will concentrate on now is the finished product, the film Stolen Summer.

    Set in Chicago in summer 1976, the film centres on a young boy of about seven named Pete O'Malley (Adi Stein), from a large Catholic family. He listens intently during religious classes at school about how to set himself on the path for a passage to heaven. He is somewhat startled to learn that those of the Jewish faith don't believe in heaven the way the Catholics do. He decides to begin an earnest 'quest' to help some Jews get to heaven, and so sets up a lemonade stall in front of the local synagogue. Now this attracts the attention of local Rabbi Jacobsen (Kevin Pollak). He is touched by Pete's eager and dedicated manner, and goes along with his caper, much to the chagrin of his congregation.

    Meanwhile, Pete's dad, Joe (Aidan Quinn), a local fireman, and staunch working class Catholic, rules the family with stern discipline. He is called to a fire at the Jacobsen's house and rescues the Rabbi's young son Danny (Mike Weinberg) from the flames, saving his life. Young Pete meets Danny and they hit it off immediately and become firm friends. Pete finally thinks he may have found someone worthy of his 'quest'. This becomes even more telling when he learns that Danny has leukaemia and may not have long to live. Pete resolves to help Danny get to heaven.

    Of course, everything doesn't roll along smoothly. When Pete's dad learns of the Rabbi's offer of a college scholarship for his eldest son as gratitude for saving Danny from the fire, Joe is adamant his family will not receive hand-outs from Jews. And when Rabbi Jacobsen learns of Danny's involvement in the 'quest' to get him to heaven, he is also none-too-pleased and takes steps.

    This is a sweet film that certainly means well, and does not take a moral preaching stance despite the sensitive nature of the topic. No moral high ground is taken and no offence should be found for either faith portrayed here. The production design is a little lacking. I didn't actually realise this was supposed to be set in 1976 until I researched a little about Project Greenlight, so the sets, colours, and general feel of the era are a little lacking. But for a first time novice director who basically won a competition to get this made, if it were mine, I'd be extremely proud of the result.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, this video transfer is also 16x9 enhanced.

   Best described as a adequate for a low budget film, this isn't a startling transfer by any means, but there are few problems either, apart from a little general softness.

    While there is no edge enhancement present, the image does suffer from being just a little too soft on occasion. It's nothing too serious, but it's just not as crisp as you come to expect these days. Shadow detail is excellent, and while there is plenty of grain present throughout, it is mostly present on the clear backgrounds such as the sky. It is seldom bothersome. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are interesting. The film was supposedly set in the mid 1970s, but the colours and the rest of the production design did not really lend themselves to this era. There are no other real problems with the colour palette, it's just a little dull and looks like any run-of-the-mill television series.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts. The transfer is free of aliasing, probably due to the lack of any really detailed sharp images. There are quite a few film artefacts present throughout much of the film, but most are small enough to ignore.

    There is only one subtitle stream available, and these are, naturally enough, in English. I sampled them extensively and found them mostly accurate.

    This is a single layered disc only so there is no layer change with which to contend.

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

Audio

    The video is fairly bland, and so is the audio despite the inclusion of a full surround soundtrack.

    There is only the one audio soundtrack present, this being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 effort encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s. It is certainly nothing startling with few bumps and crashes and plenty of dialogue. Front and centre for the most part is the best way to describe the soundtrack.

    I encountered no problems with audio sync and all dialogue was clear and easily understood.

    The score is by Danny Lux. It is nothing startling. You will probably forget it the moment the credits roll.

    The is virtually no surround use of any note and the subwoofer is also given very little to do.

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

Extras

    Nope. Not one. Not even a trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

    It's an interesting comparison between the Region 1 and Region 4 discs. Since the Region 4 title is a rental disc only, I wasn't expecting a whole pile of extras and in fact we get none. The Region 1 release on the other hand is available as either a single disc containing just the film or as a four disc collection which contains both the film and the complete HBO reality TV series among some other bits, albeit some of questionable worth.

    When compared to the single disc, the Region 4 disc misses out on:

    When compared to the four disc set, the Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    Either way, the Region 4 disc is the loser here. The complete four disc set is quite pricey, but with the full television series and the film would make a worthy purchase. The single disc Region 1 contains at least a few extras, including a fairly decent audio commentary track from reports I have read.

    I declare the Region 1 (either version) the winner.

Summary

    Stolen Summer is a sweet tale that will certainly warm the heart on a chilly night. The acting is first rate as would be expected from a quality ensemble cast. The production design does have a cheap feel to it on occasions, reflecting the low-budget nature of the film. When you remember this is the directorial effort of a competition winner it does bring it all back into perspective though, and you can't help but admire the effort from a first-time director. Seeing the finished product has certainly made me curious about the television series centred on the actual production.

    The video quality is without major flaw, but is a little too nondescript for my liking.

    The audio is functional in this dialogue-heavy film and performs its role well.

    There is not a single extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, July 16, 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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