Loser (2000)

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Released 4-Jan-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Music Video-Teenage Dirtbag-Wheatus
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 91:21
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Amy Heckerling
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jason Biggs
Mena Suvari
Greg Kinnear
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music David Kitay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German 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
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Loser is a teen romantic comedy written, directed and co-produced by Amy Heckerling, who was also responsible for Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1986), the Look Who's Talking movies (1989, 1990) and more recently the surprise hit Clueless (1995) - the movie that propelled Alicia Silverstone to fame. It features a fairly good cast:     Paul Tannek (Jason Biggs) is an oh-so-nice-butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth farm boy who manages to secure a scholarship to a prestigious college in New York City. Right from the beginning, the film establishes how nice he is (he refuses money offered to him by his grandfather, as well as seeming to have genuine affection for his kid sister) but also how uncool he is (he can't dance to save his life, even with his kid sister). His worst fears about not being able to fit into life in the fast, big city and dealing with street-smart, cool but cruel fellow students quickly turn to reality. He shares lodgings with three roommates from hell: Adam (Zac Orth), Chris (Thomas Sadoski) and Noah (Jimmi Simpson). They quickly make his life a misery by not allowing him time to study, continually playing pranks on him and eventually even kick him out of the dorm, but he is too nice to complain.

    Soon, his grades start to suffer, but his lecturer, Professor Alcott (Greg Kinnear) doesn't show any sympathy for his situation. No one seems to even care for him except Dora Diamond (Mena Suvari) who feels sorry for him when he accidentally stumbled and fell on entering the lecture hall one day. He starts to fall in love with Dora only to realize that she has a huge crush on Professor Alcott himself and apparently has been in a rather one-sided relationship with the professor for some time. The professor happens to be a self-centred twit who does not really care for Dora.

    Dora comes from a poor family and can barely afford the tuition fees. She was doing part time work in a girlie bar but is eventually fired due to her naivety. She turns to Professor Alcott for help but he is more concerned about maintaining his reputation. In desperation, she even resorts to sleeping in Grand Central with the tramps rather than go home.

    So, basically the movie is trying to tell us both Paul and Dora are 'losers' who are really nice people who ought to deserve better, maybe even each other. Will both of them realize they are being taken advantage of (Paul by his roommates, Dora by Professor Alcott) without them losing their "niceness"? Will they realize they are Meant For Each Other and find true happiness? Can you spot the ending coming a mile away?

    I really enjoyed Clueless, and the cast list sounded really promising, so I had high expectations for this movie. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The movie tries so hard to ensure we get the message that the two characters are 'losers' that it makes it hard for me to feel any real empathy for them. I think there is a difference between being nice but naive and just being plain dumb and in this case the characters are so clueless and apathetic about their situations that I started feeling they deserve everything they are getting.

    Cameo appearances by Andy Dick (NewsRadio's Matthew Brock) and David Spade (Just Shoot Me!'s Dennis Finch) fail to generate any real excitement. Dan Ayckroyd's role as Mr. Tanneck is so small it borders on being a cameo appearance (he only appears in two scenes).

    In summary, the movie wanted to say "nice guys finish first" but end up saying "nice guys ought to finish last" instead. So, the real 'loser' is probably the movie itself.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    True to the adage that bad movies get good video transfers, this is a near perfect transfer and I honestly cannot find anything negative to say about the transfer at all.

    The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. The film source is extremely clean and free of dirt or grain, and the transfer by Sony Pictures DVD Center is excellent, with no sign of MPEG artefacts apart from slight "ringing" around the titles during  the opening credits. Sharpness, colour saturation and shadow level is basically reference quality.

    The disc comes with no less than 17 subtitle tracks ranging from English to the Scandinavian languages (all four) and even Hindi and Arabic. Even the trailer is subtitled in Dutch and the featurette in German and Dutch.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks for the main feature, English and German, both encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s. I listened to only the English track. Curiously, the trailer also includes a German track.

    The quality of the audio transfer is good but nothing to shout about. Dialogue is crystal clear and in perfect sync with the video. As the movie is fairly dialogue-focused, most of the audio is front-centred with the left/right fronts used mainly for various effects. The rear speakers are mostly used for ambience, particularly for music. Speaking of which, the music is just your run-of-the-mill teen flick background music and is not memorable. The cameo appearance of Everclear, a band I have never heard of before nor intend to in the future, is ho-hum.

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

Extras

    This disc comes with a reasonable collection of extras, but does not have a commentary track. Then again, I am not sure I want to listen to a commentary of this movie. All menus and extras are non 16x9 enhanced. Menus and scene selections are static. The menus take painstaking care in telling us which menu item is subtitled or has non-English audio tracks, which I thought was a nice touch.

Dolby Digital Trailer - City

    Curiously, the Dolby Digital Trailer is played before the movie only if you select "Play Movie" from the main menu and not from the sub-menus.

Theatrical Trailer

    Somewhat unusually, the trailer comes with both English and German audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1) and a Dutch subtitle track.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes

    Also entitled "The Loser and You", the featurette is extremely short (4:33 in length) and starts of as a mock black and white documentary complete with fake film scratches which then segues into set of mini-interviews with Amy Heckerling, Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari. The featurette is subtitled in German and Dutch.

Music Video - Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus

    This is a music video combining shots of Wheatus performing the song spliced with scenes featuring the main characters of the movie supposedly taken from the film except they are not. In fact, they seem to be taken from an entirely different story altogether (placing the characters in high school rather than in college). Weird.

    The music video is presented in a letter-boxed non-16x9 enhanced aspect ratio.

Biographies - Cast & Crew

    This is a set of stills featuring short biographies of Amy Heckerling, Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, and Greg Kinnear.

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 is a single sided dual layer disc to accommodate the pan-and-scan transfer. It misses out on;     I don't have a clear preference for either version. If you hate black bars, you should probably go for the Region 1 version which has the 1.33:1 transfer.

Summary

    Loser is a disappointing film that ought to have been good, considering its creator and cast. Just go and watch Clueless again - it's a much better movie. It is presented on a DVD with a near-perfect video transfer, above average audio transfer and a reasonable collection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, January 06, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront left/right: B&W DM603; centre: B&W CC6S2, rear left/right: B&W DM601

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