Paramount // 2002 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dezhda Mountz (Retired) // February 4th, 2002
It's summertime and the livin' is hell.
The jaded, cynical adolescent Daria has been on MTV for five seasons now. An antidote to teenybopper culture and appealing to the kind of kids who write poetry instead of fan mail to Josh Hartnett, she sees the world through black-colored glasses. Still, Daria manages to grow and learn more about fitting in -- her way. Daria The Movie: Is It Fall Yet? DVD comes not only with the full-length feature, but also two bonus episodes and a music video.
Daria hates summer. She hates swimsuits, playing in the sun, and of course, working. Unfortunately, her best friend Jane is off to an artists' colony for the summer. Her parents refuse to tolerate her inactivity, so they make her volunteer at the whiny "It's OK To Cry" camp for overly sensitive kids. Plus, her new boyfriend Tom -- formerly Jane's sweetie, a point of contention for the girls -- is from a wealthy family that may border on the elitist. What's a cynic to do?
I've never watched Daria, but I'm gonna start because I really liked this movie. Reflecting the sense of female teenaged ennui so cleverly and touchingly portrayed in Ghost World, but with a much lighter touch, Daria The Movie: Is It Fall Yet? will appeal to kids and adults alike sick of the superficial and contrived.
Another summer rounds the corner. Daria's parents are fairly clueless, but they try to stick their noses in Daria's business whenever possible. Quinn, Daria's popular and air headed sister, is getting a tutor, Jane is off to be artsy-fartsy, and Daria ends up spending most of her time in her bedroom. Her mom takes initiative and send her to counsel at the touchy-feely "It's OK To Cry Corral" day camp where Daria's spastic head-case teacher -- dubbed "Uncle Anthony" -- tries to recapture his love for teaching by volunteering his counsel.
In the meantime, Quinn's tutor alerts her to her stupidity and gets her to try harder in school. Jane runs into a potential sexual crossroads at the hands of ambisexual artists, and Daria deals with Tom and his ultra rich family. There's also that little fact that Tom is Jane's ex. Summer sure isn't what it used to be.
Throughout it all, Daria's witticisms get big laughs, and the kind of people you always wanted to tell off in high school -- the dumb jocks, the ditzy airheads -- get their due here, which is enormously pleasing.
More importantly, Daria figures how to navigate the choppy waters of relationships -- both romantic and friend-wise. The situations are realistic and the hip animation still allows the characters to be suitably expressive.
As a DVD, Daria The Movie: Is It Fall Yet? does have its drawbacks. It's full screen, though you don't lose much in the translation much like you would in a live-action film; it's simply a bit overwhelming, the bright oranges and reds a bit in-your-face. Though the colors are vibrant, in more complex tableaux there was some distortion; the reds and oranges especially had this problem. Otherwise, I saw no edge enhancement or dust, and certainly no fading. The Dolby Digital Surround sound is fine -- nothing special, but good enough for the movie's purposes. Little use of all speakers, but the dialogue was crisp, clean, and well balanced.
The extras were nice touches -- we get two bonus episodes of Daria. "Fire!" and "Dye, Dye My Darling" set up the Tom-Daria-Jane triangle, and provide more of that wisecracking-but-not-too-precious Daria coolness. A music video by rocker character rent and his band Mystik Spiral is a novelty, and I doubt most people will actually sit through it.
Daria The Movie: Is It Fall Yet? will not delight DVD connoisseurs, but it is a fun and entertaining foray into adolescence, that even I -- at an undisclosed age, but I will tell you I am not a teen anymore -- can appreciate. Good writing, animation, and decent extras.
Daria The Movie: Is It Fall Yet? is a little tardy in the way of DVD superiority, but I'll let it get away with a detention.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Two Bonus Episodes