Whatever It Takes: Collector's Edition (1999)

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Released 6-Dec-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer-(Full Frame, DD5.0, 2:27 minutes)
Audio Commentary-D Raynr (Dir), S West (Act) & M Sokoloff (Act)
Featurette-Making Of-(Full Frame, DD2.0, 3:01 minutes)
Deleted Scenes-4 (1.85:1, non 16x9, DD2.0, 3:44 minutes)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 90:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Raynr
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Shane West
Marla Sokoloff
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe
James Franco
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Edward Shearmur


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score 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
German
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Swedish
Turkish
German Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, but very minor
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Hollywood serves up teen flicks on such a regular basis that even thinking about them all can be brain-numbing. Whatever It Takes doesn't depart very far from the well-trodden path - good-looking teenagers, raging hormones, high school prom night, nerdy pals, will she/won't she, does he/doesn't he. However, it manages to keep the interest up by adding nice touches all the way through, often in the form of little joke scenes going on in the background. It also borrows heavily for its central plot theme from the old Cyrano de Bergerac story.

    The story is set in and around Gilmore High School and principally concerns the quartet of Ryan (Shane West), Maggie (Marla Sokoloff), Chris (James Franco) and Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). Ryan and Maggie have been next door neighbours and best friends for years and have just a hint of conservative nerdiness about them. Chris, the school jock, and Ashley, the school dream queen, are cousins. Of course Ryan, who with a bedroom balcony only inches away from Maggie's should have had other ideas, has a crush on Ashley, while Chris has a similar problem with Maggie. Each are a million miles from their respective dreams until they agree to help each other with appropriate pick-up lines and other useful ideas. They both end up within sight of success by the school prom night, but by then Ryan has come to his senses (it turns out that Ashley is as vacuous as she is beautiful) and he tries his best to save Maggie from Chris and his plans.

    The characters are likeable enough and the humour sufficiently filling to keep the show on the road for 90 minutes.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Columbia TriStar just keep putting out real gems. Even though this film is a pure formula-driven, two-week cinematic wonder, it gets the full treatment for its DVD release, and this certainly helps in the enjoyment of the experience.

    The aspect ratio of the DVD image is 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. I would guess this was its original ratio, but can't be sure, since I can't find any technical references to this.

    The image is uniformly crisp and clear with never a sign of graininess until perhaps the very last scene, and even that might have been my imagination. I couldn't detect any type of edge enhancement. Being a teen film the lighting was very bright and full, even for most of the night shots, but where shadows occurred they were never lost for detail. Low level noise was non-existent.

    The colours in this film really stand out and help to create a bright and sunny mood. The palette contains a range of solid colours that are fully saturated and never bleed. Remember that the film is without a serious thought on its agenda, so this whole production design is quite appropriate.

    The transfer has obviously come from an extremely clean print. There were film marks, but I really had to look for them (in one case having to replay a shot three times just to make sure). For practical purposes you could just about say they were totally absent.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring between chapters 18 and 19 at 61:05. The break is not overly intrusive.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks - English and German. I listened to the default English track.

    Perhaps the one aspect of this film where I can be picky is in the clarity of the dialogue. Although I was never unable to follow the story, I felt that many of the actors occasionally (to be fair, only very occasionally) stumbled and mumbled over their lines as if they had something better to do. In a couple of other places the very active music tracks that accompany the film overshadowed the dialogue. I don't accuse the DVD engineers of this fault - it appears to be in the original film. In fact this very point was mentioned by the director during the audio commentary, although he seemed to dismiss it as unimportant. To me that is a rather poor attitude for any director to take.

    Audio sync was always pretty much spot on. The music essentially consists of a large number of music singles. This is the formula, I suppose.

    This is not a special effects film, by any means, yet the surround channels made themselves felt almost continuously. In the main they simply added extra depth to the whole audio stage, however in a couple of places they did get used specifically to create some over-the-shoulder sound imaging in reaction to on-screen action.

    Similarly, the subwoofer was generally present although mainly as a general support for the music tracks. There was no need for any special low frequency effects.

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

Extras

    There is quite a range of extras, a nice surprise given that we're not dealing with a classic.

Dolby Digital City Trailer

    I would like to repeat my fellow reviewer, Ian's, pleading for a little variation in the Dolby trailers. They're always welcome, but (call me sentimental) I would especially love to see the Locomotive trailer.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in Full Frame with Dolby Digital 5.0 audio. The picture quality isn't up to the standard of the feature, but it's more than OK.

Audio Commentary with David Raynr, Shane West and Marla Sokoloff

    Little of any real substance emerges, although the sheer inexperience of the two actors shines through. The commentary does highlight the fact that the entire exercise was a pure marketing operation.

Featurette - The Making Of

    This is nothing of the sort - it's virtually the trailer interspersed with the odd single line comment from assorted cast and crew. Full Frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Again, the picture quality is OK.

Deleted Scenes

    4 deleted scenes that show the filmmakers' initial ideas were much raunchier than the ones that made it through the MPAA haggling process. These scenes are all presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ration but are not 16x9 enhanced - these seem to have come from a pretty poor video source. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0

Biographies - Cast and Crew

    Given the age and level of experience of the cast, this isn't a long read.

Isolated Music Score

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;     The PAL picture is a strong point-scorer for the R4 version.

Summary

    Whatever It Takes is an easy to film to enjoy if the whole teen flick idea is not an anathema to you. Indeed, it seems to have worked the formula better than most. The picture is superb, the DVD sound is great, even if the original material can be faulted, and you get a nice set of extras. If you're a fan of the film, buy today and enjoy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Tuesday, December 12, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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