Westlake Entertainment // 2006 // 107 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 18th, 2007
Still just a good old boy.
From John Schneider (TV's The Dukes of Hazzard), a family-oriented slice of light-hearted car chases and smart-ass remarks. And, yes, I guess the pursuits are indeed hot.
Schneider (who also wrote, produced, and directed) stars as the titular John Collier, laid-back, former pro racer, now struggling to salvage a deteriorating marriage and scrape together enough money to subsist. To do that, he cons hapless fools into street racing him for pink slips. Each car he bags goes toward his dream of starting a premium used car dealership -- and winning back the respect and affection of his estranged wife Becky (Elly Castle). But when Collier cons the wrong man out of his car -- and a special bonus prize -- his one not-so complicated life gets a whole lot more complex. Turns out there was something more valuable than the car in the backseat and now a slimy bad guy will do anything to get it back, even if it means kidnapping Collier's loved ones as leverage. Well, that's not going to fly, so Collier does what he does best: jump in a fast automobile, drive around, and laugh.
The film begins with an introduction from John Schneider, who reveals why he was propelled to make it -- to create an experience that could be shared by families, and offer something that everyone, no matter what age, will enjoy. I think I can get on board with that characterization, with one exception. The film is fun and fast enough to entertain most anyone, but I'll tell you who will be really hurting after the 107-minute runtime comes to a close: people who like moves that look and sound good.
That's the biggest problem with this release, the technical treatment. It's backward to start a reaction to a film by looking at the oft-boring audio and visual specifications, but it needs to happen with this movie. All caveats about low budgets and independent filmmaking aside, Collier and Co. receives a disappointing DVD treatment. For starters, the widescreen transfer is non-anamorphic, and in this age of ever-increasing ownership of widescreen HDTVs, this fake letterbox crap is indefensible. There sure is nothing like watching a film surround by four black bars, is there? Worse, the picture quality is terrible. Obviously shot with an entry-level rig, the video is low on detail and the color levels are extremely soft. Seriously, this isn't a far cry from a YouTube video. The sound is presented in a 5.1 mix, and while it's not as bad as its video counterpart, the audio is shallower than it should be.
Will this nuke the experience? I don't think so. Substance-wise, Collier and Co. isn't MacBeth, but it doesn't try to be anything more than a good time with a few shots of jumping cars and John Schneider grinning. The happy-go-lucky tone that Schneider sets up from the beginning continues throughout, and even when the film's heavies show up, punch some people in the face and, yeah, even abduct a mother and daughter in a helicopter, the narrative never feels deep and dark. I enjoyed the banter and Schneider's folksy humor shows up in the writing. The plot is incredibly simple and at times the storyline lags (and by "lags" I mean "where the @#$% are the jumping cars?!"), but Collier is still a fun, inoffensive time that will likely be enjoyed by viewers that a) have a fond recollection of The Dukes of Hazzard or b) aren't looking for deep, penetrating truth about the human experience in their microwave-popcorn Friday night family movies.
On the other side of the technical merits are the bonus features, which are legion. Disc One contains two feature commentary tracks -- one with Schneider, and one with the cast. Both are fun and you can tell that everyone involved really dumped their heart and soul into this. Also included are a gag reel, photo gallery, and music video. Disc Two brings a long, robust making-of documentary (80 min), a featurette on the cross-country promotion, trailers, and the musical tracks found in the film. It's a lot of stuff, and almost makes up for the horrid video quality. Almost.
The movie is fun and low-calorie. The extras are impressive, but a heartbreaking technical treatment comes close to seizing John Schnieder's labor of love.
Collier and Co. needs a fresh coat of paint...but the engine is solid.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Westlake Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Director's Commentary
* Cast Commentary
* Gag Reel
* Music Video
* Making-of Documentary
* Promotion Featurette
* Musical Tracks
* Photo Gallery
* Official Site