• I Melt With You


    Released By: Magnolia Home Entertainment
    Released On: 02/28/2012
    Director: Mark Pellington
    Cast: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay
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    The Film:

    Mini-reunion party with four college buddies at a California beach house, complete with gallons of booze, punk rock, and enough narcotics to keep a small village twitching compulsively for weeks on end? Where do I sign up? Granted, it’s not everybody’s idea of a good time, but for some, including the four main characters of Mark Pellington’s film, I Melt With You, it’s a sure-fire remedy to cure what ails you, especially if what ails you is the fact that your life is going nowhere.

    Well, almost. True enough, the weekend starts off well enough. Schoolteacher and once famous writer Richard (Thomas Jane) has already set up camp at the beach house that the four friends will be reuniting at by throwing some Pistols on the turntable, some beers in the fridge, some whiskey above the fireplace, and some coke on the coffee table. Joined shortly thereafter by Tim (Christian McKay) and then Ron and Jonathan (Jeremy Piven and Rob Lowe), things quickly get under way as they crank the tunes and proceed to get obliterated. The next few days is a full-on drug and booze-fuelled vacation dreamland, with deep sea fishing, high-speed races, and….er….more booze and drugs. During a quick stop to a local bar to grab some food, so as to continue drinking and drugging, Richard invites the good-looking blonde bartender back to the house, which she reluctantly does, friends in tow.

    The ensuing party (yes, more booze and coke) is the turning point of the story; what has started off as four friends reminiscing and bitching about how their lives haven’t turned out how they planned turns nasty and cynical when they are confronted with teenagers who have their whole lives in front of them. The nasty vibe convinces the kids that it’s time to split, and everyone crashes a little more somberly…waking up to find Tim hanging in the shower stall. The reason for his death is spelled out in his suicide note; a bizarre pact long-forgotten by the remaining three. The next 24 hours spell out the end of the survivors as their lives and the decisions that they’ve made unravel with fatal consequences.

    What could have been a really decent thriller with some strong actors falls short of the mark for a couple of reasons, but the main problem is something that I like to call “a blatant attempt at limiting your audience”. During the extra features and commentary, Director Mark Pellington emphasizes over and over again that this film is aimed at 40-somethings who have found themselves in a place different than what they imagined when they were young and idealistic. 40-something and not happy with how your life has turned out, and have experienced punk rock. The way he talks about this target group, one has to wonder if he’s defending himself against the eventual criticism that may come his way from people who “don’t get” I Melt With You. I don’t believe that 40-something, or punk rock has anything to do with “getting the film”. Not being satisfied with where you have ended up in life is not specific to any age group. I don’t believe that Pellington has turned out a film that even 40-somethings who are not satisfied with their lives will necessarily understand either, and that’s because of the second reason; this film doesn’t really do anything for the most part. And it’s long….over 2 hours, as a matter of fact. The first hour goes nowhere, consisting only of this group of friends getting messed up and talking about things. This may be considered character-building by the writers, but others will consider it boring. Guys in their 40’s getting loaded and listening to music is not something most of us want to watch for an hour, even in real life. When things finally do start happening, the mystery that we’re following gives no real clues, and we’re forced to sit around and wait for the big reveal at the end. Which means that for the last hour, we’re basically forced to sit around and watch guys in their 40’s getting loaded, listening to music, and bitching about how their lives haven’t turned out how they would’ve liked some more.

    The term “edgy” may come to mind, but the word “forced” accompanies it. Pellington’s jittery, nauseating, random focus-pulling direction seems contrived, aided by constant song changes that make it seem like a desperate cry for acceptance. There is no doubt a lot of Pellington in the script (co-written by Glenn Porter), and it’s more than certainly an idea that’s very close to him. But, by the end of the film, you will probably feel like you’ve spent two hours watching the drunk impromptu DJ at the party who can’t figure out if he wants to listen to the Jesus and Mary Chain or Run DMC, and keeps shutting songs off when they’re halfway over to put on something else. Fittingly enough, the one good thing about the film is the soundtrack; you won’t have to be in your 40’s to enjoy the mix of tunes that includes The Clash, Joan Jett, and the aforementioned Jesus and Mary Chain. The rest of the film is a distraction of background noise.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Magnolia Home Entertainment brings I Melt With You to blu-ray in a 2.35:1 transfer that looks alright. It’s very hard to tell how good the transfer actually looks, due to the low budget fix of using digital camcorders to record. Add to that Pellington’s schizophrenic direction, and you’ll find that it’s very hard to concentrate on what’s happening. It can be said that the film doesn’t appear to have any issues with compression or other unsightly artifacts. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is more than sufficient for the dialogue-driven film, with the soundtrack coming through clearly with lots of use of the surrounds and good bass response.

    There are a whole load of extra features included on the disc as well. First up are some Deleted Scenes, which consist of 7 cuts, coming out just over 18 minutes. While these scenes would have been helpful as far as more character development, it’s hard to imagine the film any longer than it already is.

    Next up is a 25-minute Behind the Scenes, featuring Director Mark Pellington and Co-Writer Glenn Porter discussing the origins of the film and what it’s about. You will hear the terms “in their 40’s” and “not happy with their lives” and “punk rock” thrown around repeatedly, but they do manage to break from talking about themselves long enough to discuss things like the camera equipment used to make the movie.

    HDNet: A Look At I Melt With You is the typical 5-minute HDNet commercial included on most releases affiliated with the channel.

    Interview With Mark Pellington is another chance for the Director to talk about the film, how close the characters are to him, drug addiction, and the importance of music. To be honest, by the time you’re done watching the Behind the Scenes and this interview, you will probably be sick to death of listening to Pellington talk about being in your 40’s and into punk rock and having your life not work out the way you want it to.

    Interview With Jeremy Piven is just that, an interview with one of the stars of the film, who talks about the story and the characters, and discusses making the film.

    A Directors Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery that has over 80 still images is vaguely interesting, but there are a lot of useless “artsy” shots. By the time you make it through this, you may have come to the conclusion that Pellington is one pretentious SOB; but if you haven’t, the “Director’s Statement” (oh, come ON) will spell it out for you, as Pellington talks about how much controversy the film will generate, along with “deeply felt polarized reactions”. Pellington’s insistence that this will become a cult film does not help assuage these feelings of pretention.

    I was thoroughly fed up by the time I got to (what, the third screen of supplements) the Jeremy Piven Mood Piece, which is a 4-minute bit of Piven narrating over clips of the film with text overlays; if you guessed it’s more of “Waaah, my life sucks because I’m not satisfied” you would be correct. It runs well with the Thomas Jane Teaser, which features 5 minutes of the Richard character bitching about his life as well.

    A commentary with Pellington, Rob Lowe, and Jeremy Piven has some good anecdotes about working on the film, as well as from their own lives, and some other interesting information. A second commentary with Pellington, Glenn Porter, and D.O.P. Eric Schmidt is about as mundane as watching the extra features.

    Rounding out the extras are the green and red band theatrical trailers, the international trailer, an alternative theatrical poster gallery, and some other Magnolia releases trailers.

    The Final Word:

    It’s hard to believe that anyone is 100% content with where they are in life. But if you’re one of the ones who are and have a burning need to watch those who aren’t, or if you think that watching four guys get blitzed and try to party their troubles away for over two hours is going to be fun, you should check this movie out. If you like it, there are a whole load of redundant extra features to check out afterwards. I just didn’t care about anything outside of the soundtrack. I’ll bet it’s a great soundtrack album.