Horseplay (2003)

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Released 19-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Main Menu Audio
Scene Selection Audio
Featurette-Horseplay Clowning
Deleted Scenes-13
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 88:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stavros Kazantzidis
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Marcus Graham
Tushka Bergen
Jason Donovan
Natalie Mendoza
Abbie Cornish
Bill Hunter
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Nigel Westlake


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It was quite fitting that I sat down to review this film on the first Tuesday in November, since anyone in Australia will know that this is "the day that stops the nation". The Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse race in this country and one of the best known in the entire world. Why is this fitting? Well that's effectively what Horseplay is about - one trainer's foiled attempt to rig the big race and make an instant million.

    Marcus Graham stars as Max MacKendrick. He's a trainer of some ill-repute, having been banned for life for an earlier attempt to rig a big race by switching a horse for another. He's just married the rich daughter of horse training legend Barry Coxhead (Bill Hunter) - a man who hates Max with a passion and goes out of his way to annoy him. His new wife Alicia (Tushka Bergen) is a real yuppie snob and can't bear the fact that her husband's criminal activity has caused her to be removed from every A list around town. She would do anything to be rid of him and as a side plot (one of many that I won't go into the detail of) tries her best to remove him from her life. The main story of course revolves around Max and his efforts to rig the outcome of the Melbourne Cup. With the aid of his accountant Henry (Jason Donovan), he arranges the kidnapping of the wife of the jockey who will be riding the favourite on the big day. This nag just happens to be owned by Barry Coxhead and so revenge is another motive for Max. With the jockey threatened that he will never see his wife again unless he throws the race, the plan is set. Henry places all the cash Max can get his hands on onto the one horse which is now apparently a sure thing (but aren't there 22 others in the field?). Of course, things do not go quite that smoothly with a whole pile of other people getting in the way and causing all manner of chaos, including three dead bodies.

    The best role of all is by far that of Henry, the sleazy, oversexed, and crooked accountant played by Jason Donovan, but the rest are so one-dimensional and contrived it just isn't funny. Directed by Stavros Kazantzidis, this black comedy simply isn't black enough to be a true black comedy, and not funny enough to be anything else. There are moments, but the strange mish-mash of characters, all trying desperately to be cleverly intertwined, simply comes across as contrived coincidence. You just know you are onto something bad when the first five minutes of the film is completely dominated by a voice-over telling us what is happening rather than letting the action on screen provide the necessary exposition.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   While this may have been a relatively low budget film, this isn't a half-bad transfer with few problems to report.

    Presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, this video transfer is also 16x9 enhanced. It is a sharp and detailed transfer, with excellent clarity and good shadow detail. Grain is virtually non-existent and there is no low level noise.

   The colours are extremely well saturated. As would be expected, the scenes at the race track are especially well coloured with all the shades of the rainbow on display. Skin tones are perfect and the black levels are excellent.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts and the transfer is free of aliasing. There are a handful of small film artefacts present throughout much of the film, but most are not overly bothersome.

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

    This is a dual layered disc but I could not spot a layer change so I am assuming the film (which is only 88 minutes) is on one layer and the extras are on another.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks available, these being Dolby Digital tracks in both 2.0 and 5.1 flavours. Not a bad soundtrack by any means, but there isn't a great deal to stretch it into the demonstration material category. There is clear separation across the front three channels for much of the film, but little in the way of surround channel use. The subwoofer does get used on occasion and is actually quite well placed in the overall sound mix.

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

    The score is by Nigel Westlake. It's fairly typical of the style of film.

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

Extras

    This is one time I am eternally thankful there is no commentary track which forces me to watch this again. There are a couple of extras, though they are nothing startling.

Featurette

    A 12:15 minute making-of that is comprised of around 80 per cent film footage and the rest brief interviews with some of the cast. Not a lot of substance here and could have been a whole lot shorter.

Deleted Scenes

    A total of 13 deleted scenes running for a total of 10:56 minutes. They can be selected individually or there is a play-all option.

R4 vs R1

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

    The lucky souls in Region 1 have yet to be inflicted with this title.

Summary

    The Melbourne Cup is known as the race that stops the nation. Well, maybe it should have been the race that stopped the filming of this rubbish as well. This is truly a painful film to watch. It is simply not black enough to be a real black comedy, but not funny enough to be a laugh-out-loud real comedy. It is just plain ordinary and it is really quite an effort to sit through the whole thing.
   
    The video quality is excellent, with bright and bold colours dominating.

    The audio is certainly not demonstration material, but does feature a couple of moments which make full use of the subwoofer. There is basically no surround channel use, though.

    The extras are pretty light in quality and quantity.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, November 10, 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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