The White River Kid (1999)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 94:59
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Arne Glimcher
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Bob Hoskins
Antonio Banderas
Ellen Barkin
Kim Dickens
Beau Bridges
Swoosie Kurtz
Randy Travis
Wes Bentley
Chad Lindberg
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music John Frizzell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

Sometimes it's hard to tell the sinners from the saints

   
Brother Edgar is doing the Lord's work. Travelling from town to town, Brother Edgar sells socks made by blind children from St. Mortimer's Orphanage for the Blind. It's all for a good cause, with all the proceeds going to this important charity that looks after the community's less fortunate. Of course, it's all a crock. Brother Edgar (Bob Hoskins) is nothing but a con man who is more interested in lining his own pockets, and has only gone into the "Work of the Lord" in order to evade the taxman and local authorities. Travelling to a woodcutting contest in a rural community, Edgar has set up his sock stand along with the help of his accomplice Morales (Antonio Banderas) in the continued pursuit of fleecing the flock.

    Morales is looking to better himself. Having 'immigrated' from south of the border, he has worked with Brother Edgar at his stand selling socks, but dreams of more. Visiting a mobile library, he borrows a book on what he thinks is immigration. Instead, he has borrowed a book on litigation and begins to see himself as a future lawyer.

    During a rest stop on the way out of town, the pair are held up by a mysterious youth who emerges from the White River and Brother Edgar realizes that he's being held up by the infamous killer, the White River Kid. With a little fast talking, the good Brother is able to trade some socks and a little bit of cash for safe passage. Lightning strikes twice however, as Brother Edgar and Morales eat at a roadside diner only to realize that the White River Kid (Wes Bentley) is at the same restaurant, and the law is coming for him!  In a sudden wave of care for his fellow man, Brother Edgar warns the Kid about the police lying in wait for him. This all backfires as the Kid, now on the run from the law, hitches (hi-jacks) a ride in the St. Mortimer van along with a young waitress (Kim Dickens) from the diner. It's four on the road in a search for love, acceptance, money and freedom. The problem is, not all of the of van's occupants agendas match, and friendships and loyalties will be challenged. None of them will come out unchanged, and some just might not come out of it all alive!

    How the hell this film ever got a green light I'll never know. The makings of a good film are all here: top cast who are all capable of quality performances, a director with limited experience but a good resume in terms of past features, a good soundtrack, some at times quite good cinematography from a seasoned director of photography. All the makings are there, it's just that in the end it all falls to pieces. This film can't decide what it wants to be. Road Trip? Black Comedy? Screwball Comedy? Thriller? Drama? Art house? Folk Tale? In the end it tries to be all of the above and fails on every account.

    Based on the novel The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer by John Fergus Ryan, this must have been a reasonable story (I have not read the book) to develop into a motion picture. Maybe it is one of those classic works that plays out great in print but fails to translate to the big screen. Sometimes you can get away with filming the unfilmable, as Trainspotting, Naked Lunch and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas bear testament, but this film falls so flat, it actually puts a dent in the floor. Both Bob Hoskins (Casting) and Antonio Banderas (Executive Producer) have production credits here, so it's not only performances that are substandard. I've always had time for Hoskins, but this film just plain doesn't work (and his English accent inappropriately pokes through several times during the film).

    A cast of great actors this film has, but a good film it is not. You will not be missing out on anything if you don't see this film and it comes with my worst advisory: Avoid.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     As is usually the case, this rather ordinary film is committed quite competently to DVD with a quite good image available throughout.

    This disc presents the film in 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement. The film's original theatrical aspect ratio looks to have been 1.85:1, although I could not confirm this.

    The image presented on this disc is quite good, with a clean and clear picture throughout. This is quite important, as there is some quite nice cinematography. There are several long distance shots, and all of these exhibit a good level of detail. There are a couple of darker scenes and these display a competent level of shadow detail. I had no issues with low level noise.

    Colour is used very naturally, and stays far from exaggeration. Colour has been rendered very well, with an appropriate natural colour palette.

    While this disc is only single layered, the compression rate is reasonable, and the data rate runs at an average of  5.50 Mb/s with peaks at 7.95 Mb/s. With a fairly short film, minimal extras and only one soundtrack option available, this disc is far from being packed and we don't suffer in regards to compression artefacts. The image is very stable and even edge enhancement is held to a reasonable level (if such a thing exists). There is the occasional shimmer of aliasing, but not to a huge extent.

    There is only one subtitle option here, that being an English for the Hearing Impaired stream. This is reasonably accurate, though not word for word. Thankfully, this stream covers both the spoken word as well as the lyrics from some of the songs (mostly from country music great Randy Travis).

    This disc is formatted single layer and therefore layer change is not an issue.

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

Audio

    The audio mix for this film is quite good and serves the material well.

    There is only one soundtrack for this film, that being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

    The dialogue is for the most part easily understood, with the heavy regional accents only getting in the way a couple of times. I thought that the sync was quite good, with the spoken word matching lip movements very well.

    Music for this film comes from two different sources. The first is the film's traditional score, which was composed by prolific soundtrack composer John Frizzell. Frequent film goers will recognize the name from some recent big budget films such as Dante's Peak, Alien: Resurrection, Gods and Generals and Cradle 2 the Grave. The score is quite good and suits the material well. Country singer Randy Travis also provides many of the film's songs and these are also quite good and entertaining (probably one of the only good things about the film).

    While this disc offers a 5.1 mix, the rears don't do a lot on their own and instead take on a supporting atmospheric role, which suits the film.

    The LFE channel comes to use during some of the musical passages, but as with the surround channels, it plays the appropriate supporting role and never unduly calls attention to itself.

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

Extras

   This is very much a bare bones disc with little on offer in the way of extras.

Menu

    After the usual distributor's logos and copyright warnings, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The Main Menu is 16x9 enhanced and features music from the film's soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer   -   1:58

    This is a very slick trailer that capitalizes on the film's main stars, producers and directors ("From the director of Just Cause and the producer of Arthur and A League of Their Own comes a film..."). You know, the usual. The trailer does its best to put the film in the best light, but even then you can see the turkey shinning through. Presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

     This disc was released in Region 1 in October 2001 with the title White River. The Region 1 disc features many more extras than our Region 4 anaemic offering.

     The Region 4 version misses out on:

     The Region 1 version misses out on:

     This isn't a hard one to pick. Whilst not bursting at the seams, the Region 1 U.S. disc features many more extras not even hinted at with the Region 4 disc. For anyone interested in the production of the film, the Director's Commentary would be a real plus. Although I thought the film was total crap, I always hate getting robbed of the insights of the film's creators as it gives the viewer a look as to what they were trying to achieve. If you don't care about commentaries, then the fact that the Region 1 disc has one might not be of consequence, but if you want this film in its best package then Region 1 is by far the better choice.

Summary

     This is a most ordinary film with very little to recommend it. The stars are big and the behind-the-scenes people have a good pedigree, but this film is a real stinker. When a film with stars like this doesn't get a cinematic release in its country of origin, you know that something is amiss. Watch this film and see just how amiss it can get. I said it before and I'll say it again: Avoid.

     The video is good with a clean and sharp image available throughout.

     The audio is good with a workable 5.1 mix on offer.

     The extras are almost non-existent, with only a Theatrical Trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Dub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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