The Grand (2007) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes-with commentary
Audio Commentary-Full commentary with writer/director, producer and star
Audio Commentary-Select scenes with director and stars
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (90:37)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Zak Penn|
|Anchor Bay Entertainment||Starring||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
The Grand is a largely improvised comedy set at a high-stakes poker tournament. The film is architected by unlikely writer/director Zack Penn who is better known for the stamp he has put on numerous comic book adaptations (including X-Men and The Incredible Hulk). He succeeds in turning what could easily have been another lame poker movie into the best mockumentary in years. The trick seems to be keeping the plot as simple as possible and letting the brilliant ensemble cast run wild. The game itself acts as a foil for outrageous characters to find conflict and strut their stuff. The film thrives on awkward moments and unexpected reaction. Strangely enough, the poker is pretty authentic too (if the commentary is honest most of it was played for real).
The story largely revolves around the lives of the six characters who make the final table at the tournament. Leading the pack is controversial wild-man "one-eyed" Jack Faro (Woody Harrelson), who owns the casino running the tournament and desperately needs to win to prevent forclosure on his many loans with billionaire developer Steve Lavisch (Michael McKean - could you make a mockumentary without him?). Despite the stakes he is riding, Faro can't curb his habit for drugs and women (particularly marrying the latter under the influence of the former). Nor does it help that half of his 70-odd ex-wives work at his casino...
The next two contenders are siblings Larry and Lainie Schwartzman (David Cross and Cheryl Hines), egged on by Lainie's long-suffering husband Fred (Ray Romano) and their father Seth (Gabe Kaplan, a rare return for the Welcome Back, Kotter star). Seth's unashamed favouratism for his little girl drives some hilarious family explosions.
Rube newcomer Andie Andrews (Richard Kind) forges an unusual friendship with the socially awkward maths-nerd Harold Melvin (Chris Parnell), making up seats 4 and 5 respectively. This pair steal scene after scene with their fish-out-of-water acts. Melvin's mother Ruth (Estelle Harris) pulls her share of laughs to boot.
The final seat is filled by old-school player Deuce Fairbanks (Dennis Farina), who spends most of his time reminiscing of the old days.
Along the way countless other characters have some hilarious runs. Werner Herzog is particularly delicious as "The German", a ruthlessly sedate player with a penchant for killing small animals with his bare hands (though only one a day...). Jason Alexander deserves plenty of laughs for his crazy foreign player. Hank Azaria leads the poker equivalent of a homeboy posse. There are the usual commentators who are more interested in selling their books on poker tips than commentating, and whose commentary makes some of Channel 9's babbling cricket commentary look carefully considered.
The biggest winner in this tournament is the audience, particularly the many who are likely to unexpectedly stumble upon this gem.
The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. The film was shot digitally and matted theatrically, in the USA, to a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This appears to be the un-matted image, rather than a crop. The video looks as though it has been taken from the original digital source rather than telesynced from film. The one downside being that the video is NTSC, which may present a problem for playback on older equipment.
The video looks good throughout the film. The image is sharp and there is no distracting low level noise or grain. There is a good level of detail in dark and shadowy scenes.
The colour is very slightly on the pink side of natural, but even throughout and quite bold.
There is no sign of video compression artefacts or other nasties.
No subtitles are present for the feature.
This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 90:37 but was not noticeable on my equipment.
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) audio tracks are present for the film.
The audio is fairly basic, but is clean and clear, which is all it needs to be for this type of comedy. Dialogue is easy to understand and in good sync.
The film features music by Stephen Endelman, which fits the documentary style well.
There isn't much surround or subwoofer usage, nor much call for it.
|Surround Channel Use|
A non-stop talkfest with writer/director Zak Penn, writer/producer Matt Bierman and Michael Karnow, who plays one of the commentators in the movie. The trio make a great commentary, explaining who everyone in the movie is, how the endless improv bits came together during filming and how such an ecclectic cast came together. Well worth a listen.
Additional commentary segments are available that runs for select scenes of the movie. Each pairs up writer/director Zak Penn with one or more actors from the movie. In all, there is about half an hour with Woody Harrelson, a quater of an hour with Ray Romano and Cheryl Hines, and a few minutes with Woody Harrelson and Cheryl Hines.
Two alternate endings, each depicting the wash up of the tournament had a different player won. Commentary is provided for one of them.
Six deleted scenes, four with commentary, all funny.
Segments of each character singing their own praises in the style you would expect on a real televised game of poker. Very funny stuff.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 and Region 4 editions are identical, right down to NTSC formatting.
A cracking improvised mockumentary set in the world of high stakes poker. The cast, one that most movies would be envious of, manage to meet the full potential of this collaboration.
The video and audio presentation is good, though NTSC. The extras are numerous and highly worthwhile.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|