New Best Friend (2002)

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Released 7-Jan-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Audio Commentary-Zoe Clarke-Williams (Director)
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Sweetest Thing, Enough, Not Another Teen Movie
Trailer-The Forsaken, Urban Legend
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 87:12
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Zoe Clarke-Williams
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Mia Kirshner
Meredith Monroe
Dominique Swain
Scott Bairstow
Rachel True
Taye Diggs
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music John Murphy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Slovenian
Swedish
Turkish
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, plus drugs usage
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    New Best Friend is kind of like a cross between Beverly Hills 90210 and a murder mystery, except it's not set in Beverly Hills, there is no murder, and the "mystery" is fairly transparent.

    At the start of the film, we find an acting sheriff, Artie Bonner (Taye Diggs) being briefed by the Dean of Colby University (Edmund Kearney) about the recent drug overdose of final year student Alicia Campbell (Mia Kirshner) that has left the girl in a coma. The Dean wants Artie to conduct a "delicate and discrete" investigation into the circumstances of the overdose.

    Over the course of the investigation, Artie realises that nothing is what it seems. Alicia is a "good girl" who comes from a poor background, and is hoping to get a scholarship to a law school. However, recently she has been paired with a beautiful, rich and spoilt girl, Hadley Ashton (Meredith Monroe), for a sociology assignment. Despite her reluctance, fairly soon Alicia is drawn into the world of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll of Hadley and her friends Sidney (Dominique Swain) and Julianne (Rachel True).

    Is this a classic case of innocent girl being lured into decadent ways by three wild girls? Not quite, for Alicia is not above snooping into her friends' belongings, manipulating Hadley's father, and also trying to steal Hadley's boyfriend Trevor (Scott Bairstow).

    Although not strictly a "murder" mystery, it might as well be because Alicia never really wakes up from her coma throughout the whole film, and when the truth is revealed Artie behaves as if he's just caught Jack The Ripper.

    Although the film shows some promise and is rather stylistic, I found the overall storyline disappointing. The clues seemed so obvious that I keep thinking there must be a shock ending, or a plot twist, or something awaiting in the next scene. They must have snipped the "surprise" out because when the revelation came it was so obvious that I thought something must be wrong. And the "evidence" is so circumstantial I am sure any decent lawyer would be able to quash the prosecution's case.

    Alicia's transformation from poor, plain-looking innocent girl to a wild femme fatale is so quick it is ridiculous. And Artie's actions are also incredible - he is ticked off by the Dean twice and at one stage is slapped with a sexual harassment complaint and yet he doesn't even slow down.

    Finally, there are some gratuitous lesbian scenes that are not only totally unnecessary, they actually slow down the storyline at critical moments. What's even more surprising is that the film is written and directed by women, and yet the lesbian scenes are so unrealistic they seem to be manufactured to cater for a male fantasy of lesbianism.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in widescreen 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The intended aspect ratio is 1.85:1, based on a 35mm film source (with some scenes captured digitally using an HDTV camera).

    Even though this is a relatively short film, the disc authors have crammed too much into a single sided single layered disc. As a result, the transfer look a bit on the soft side and there is persistent low level pixelization on nearly all the scenes (quite obvious whenever I hit the Pause button). Other than that, though, detail levels are average and colour saturation is pretty close to perfect.

    The film source looks very clean and there are no signs of film marks. Grain is visible but fairly minimal.

    There are quite a few subtitle tracks on the disc: English, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish, Italian Audio Commentary, Spanish Audio Commentary, Dutch Audio Commentary, plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I turned on both English subtitle tracks briefly and the dialogue transcription is similar for both tracks. The English for the Hearing Impaired seems to also include transcriptions of lyrics of background music and non-dialogue utterances, as well some dialogue attribution.

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

Audio

    There are 4 audio tracks on the disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    As you would expect, this is pretty much a dialogue driven film so most of the sound comes from the front centre speaker. The other speakers are mainly used for background music ambience and there is some evidence of panning of Foley effects across the front channels (moving vehicles etc.)

    Dialogue quality is good and there were no issues with audio synchronization.

    The subwoofer is used to support the low frequencies in the background music.

    Incidentally, according the director Zoe Clarke Williams, she originally wanted to use music by Ani DiFranco for the soundtrack but couldn't afford the licensing rights. The original music score is by David A. Hughes and John Murphy and is fairly forgettable light instrumental pop with a Southern twang. The music used in the parties is nondescript rap and house music.

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

Extras

    The only major extra is an audio commentary track.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced but static.

Dolby Digital Trailer- City (0:32)

    Ho hum.

Audio Commentary- Zoe Clarke-Williams (Director)

    Zoe covers a wide variety of topics on this commentary, ranging from plot details, to pointing out subtle things on screen, to casting, location, production anecdotes, camera techniques, background music, and so forth. I appreciated the film a little bit more after hearing this commentary, and I think Zoe has a promising future but she needs to choose better storylines!

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    There is one still each (except for Dominique who gets two) for the following members of the cast & crew:

Theatrical Trailer (1:25)

    This is presented in 1.85:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192Kb/s). It is subtitled in Italian, Spanish and Dutch.

Trailer- The Sweetest Thing (1:13), Enough (1:46), Not Another Teen Movie (2:01), The Forsaken (1:51), Urban Legend (2:20)

    The following trailers are included on this disc:

    The first two trailers are subtitled in Dutch only, the last three in Italian, Spanish and Dutch.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    There's no real difference between the two.

Summary

    New Best Friend is a whodunit set on a college campus. The plot is mainly told as a series of flashbacks, and the identity of the culprit is pretty obvious.

    The video transfer is slightly soft and pixelated.

    The audio transfer is okay.

    Extras include a director's commentary track and some trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLinn Unidisk 2.1, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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