Running Mates (2000)

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Released 14-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 86:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ron Lagomarsino
Studio
Distributor
TNT
Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Selleck
Laura Linney
Nancy Travis
Teri Hatcher
Bob Gunton
Bruce McGill
Faye Dunaway
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Running Mates is among the budget priced titles released by Warner Home Video in recent weeks. With this title among several others retailing for around $14.95 and some even as low as $11.95, a new level has seemingly been set for budget discs. As a result, don't expect too much in the way of extras and the like. But if you are a fan of these particular films, this is a superb and cheap way of building up your collection very, very quickly.

    Released in 2000, Running Mates stars Tom Selleck as Michigan Governor James Reynolds Pryce. He is vying for the Democratic nomination at the upcoming national convention, with a view to running for the Whitehouse and the top job of President of the United States. The plot revolves around the political posturing and manoeuvring that occurs since Pryce is yet to decide just who his running mate will be. Should Pryce be successful in the Presidential election, his running mate will become Vice-President, so the stakes are high for those senators who think they are in line for the job.

    The other sort of running mate in the film is the bevy of beautiful women that Pryce has at his service. His wife Jenny (Nancy Travis) is joined by ambitious campaign manager Lauren Hartman (Laura Linney), public relations guru Shawna Morgan (Teri Hatcher) and Meg Gable (Faye Dunaway), the wife of senator Parker Gable (Robert Culp). Now all these women have two things in common. They have all slept with Pryce at some stage, and despite the latter three not all having parted on friendly terms, they all want to see him get to the Whitehouse so they can further their own personal ambitions.

    Senator Gable, along with Senators Terrence Randall (Bob Gunton) and Mitchell Morris (Bruce McGill) are the top three choices for running mate and as big business and the other major lobby groups close in around their ideal candidate, Pryce must make a decision that he sees is in the country's best interest and not one that is going to make him popular amongst the various factional groups.

    This is a pretty lightweight comedy/drama. All the characters are really not that well developed and follow some pretty well-worn stereotypes. All the men are powerful, intelligent, and seen as the key decision makers. The women only got to where they are because the men allowed them to. Pryce even says as much to campaign manager Lauren Hartman at one stage when she questions just how much work she has put in to get Pryce to the lofty position he holds. Despite these common faults and given that as a political based comedy/drama it certainly isn't in the league of The American President or The West Wing, this is pretty harmless entertainment that should appeal to most people.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a fairly decent transfer, without being jaw-droppingly good. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced. I am of the understanding that this film was a made-for-television production (according to imdb.com it is anyway) so getting the widescreen treatment even from something as recent as 2000 is rather pleasing.

    It is an average video transfer in terms of sharpness, with the film being betrayed by its made-for-television origins at times. Some of the wider angle shots are a little more blurry than one would normally expect and some of the extreme close-ups on a few of the female actors suffer the same affliction. There is a decent level of shadow detail - with most of the film being staged in very bright interiors this was never going to be a real problem. There is only minimal grain, which does not become at all distracting. There is no low level noise. Colours are adequate without being overly saturated. I half expected the vivid reds and blues displayed through much of the Democratic convention to be overdone, but this is not the case.

    There are no apparent compression problems. There are virtually no instances of film-to-video artefacts such aliasing. Film artefacts are present pretty much throughout the film, mostly of the small positive and negative spot or nick. They are not overly annoying, but given this film is only three years old, their appearance is surprising.

    There are only English subtitles available, these being of the standard and Hearing Impaired variety. They are as accurate as can be expected, with only a few words missed every now and then.

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

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

Audio

    There is only one audio soundtrack on this disc. It is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround flag present in the bitstream.

    With this starting life as a made-for-television film, the soundtrack is fairly stock-standard in its delivery. There is not a whole heap of dynamic range and only a little front soundstage channel separation. It is primarily a dialogue dominated film anyway, so most of the action emanates from the centre speaker. Said dialogue is clear with little evidence of any audio sync problems.

    The musical score is credited to John Debney. It attempts to mirror almost any American Presidential/political style of film you can care to name. Rousing renditions of a patriotic nature to get the blood flowing are the hallmark.

    I can't recall any surround or subwoofer use.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is a bare-bones disc at its most so it wouldn't be difficult for the Region 1 disc to surpass what we have here. It does - just. The Region 1 includes a couple of additional trailers (for what films I was unable to determine) and some cast bios. It also lists the video as being presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 instead of the 1.78:1 that the Region 4 disc enjoys.

    Based on all that, I find there to be no overwhelming reason to favour either disc and I'll concede a draw. Pick this up wherever you can get it cheapest.

Summary

    Running Mates is harmless entertainment. There is no biting satire with witty, intelligent dialogue about the mess that is big-time politics or the constant spin that is rammed down the throat of the public. It is more about stating the obvious problems with big money and big business influencing the outcomes of elections than anything else - but these are issues that everyone knows about. Tom Selleck handles his role well as the presidential candidate  It doesn't stretch him too far and being manipulated by a bevy of woman seems to agree with him.

    The video is excellent if perhaps a little soft at times, legacy of its made-for-television origins.

    The audio is functional, again betrayed by the made-for-television label.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, October 23, 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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