Cinema Epoch // 2007 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 20th, 2009
He's growing insane!
An aspiring musician happens across a bizarre discovery in his basement: a human arm is growing out of the dirt floor.
Tom (Michael Hampton) is said musician, a young guy who can't even keep an open mic gig. His music is his life and he's crushed when gets the boot. While lamenting his fate he notices a unique job opportunity: an old man needs someone to clean his house and, in exchange, he'll supply room and board. So Tom accepts the deal and one day, while dropping some items off into the basement, he's stunned to see a human arm sticking out of the ground.
For some reason, he's compelled to water the arm and lo and behold this new creation slowly turns into a fully-formed man. When Tom isn't pining for a girl that is unattainable, he retreats to the basement to vent to his new pal and maybe try out a few of songs on a captive audience.
This movie is weird. Weird. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I'm all for a completely original experience, which Growing Out absolutely is, but a crushing tedium derails the film.
On paper, there's potential here for a memorable black comedy, and that's what writer/director Graham Ratliff is after. In fact, he's blended in some horror elements as a sweetener. But for an audacious experiment like Growing Out to work, it's got to be more than a little bit entertaining. It's not, alas. It's a little bit entertaining and that's it. I blame the fact the endeavor began as a short film and appears to have been desperately inflated to fill a feature-length runtime. Essentially, there's not enough going on in the plot to justify a 100-minute investment of your time.
A shame really. I liked all the characters, especially Michael Hampton's Tom, a hapless, sympathetic shlub. His newfound plant friend is amusing, as well as is his roommate, a neurotic weirdo who lives in a trailer in the backyard. When these guys get Grade-A lines, they generate the highlights (Growing Out has a terrific vomit scene by the way); too bad Grade-A lines are lamentably few and far between. The bulk of the film is concerned with Tom's romantic pursuit, which is unsatisfying and punctuated by an especially dull musical montage.
Things get darker towards the end and built to a memorable final scene, but by then, it's too late: Growing Out, for all of its noteworthy uniqueness, just isn't funny or engaging enough to sustain the notion over the course of its runtime.
The DVD is winner, however. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean enough and the 2.0 stereo mix is adequate for its meager responsibilities. The extras are copious and include a multi-chapter making-of featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes, a still gallery and the original "Growing Out" short film.
I wish I could have liked this more. I really do. But most of the time I was just bored.
Let's get some fertilizer over here, stat!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Photo Gallery
* Short Film