MPI // 2012 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 13th, 2013
When they're at their worst, he's at his best.
Knife Fight sounds like an interesting premise. Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation) is a political campaign guru who takes candidates in the middle of scandal and makes them electable. He is good at his gig, and he turns around the campaign of a thinly veiled "John Edwards" Southern governor (Eric McCormack, Will and Grace) when he gets caught having an affair. Yet the political consultant's conscience begins to gnaw at him, and he decides to help out a candidate he believes in. Enter Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) as an altruistic doctor who wants to run for governor of California against an evil Republican action star. Can Rob Lowe's team get her elected even when her heart is in the right place?
The actors here are fine, and they are all game to give this Knife Fight a whirl. The problem is they are stuck with a script that is too light to be true drama and too heavy to be a comedy. Also it has so many campaigns going on at once it's tough to keep track or truly care about the outcome of any of them. It desperately wants to be The West Wing smart, but pans out somewhere closer to The American President. None of it dramatically works, and it starts to feel tedious and draggy. Not to mention Lowe is supposed to be so awesome at his job, but the commercial spots they show us that he helps develop are saccharine and not all that impressive.
The DVD from MPI gets short shrift here too, as if they weren't betting people would be too interested in the feature. The transfer is passable although it looks very muted and muddy. Part of this is simply style, but it's not crisp or precise by any means. The surround sound mix is fine since it's all talk and no action, so five speakers is overkill. There are no extras save for a trailer that wouldn't garner much votes. It's all middle of the road like the film itself.
If only the script were sharper and more brave to take on politics and the ridiculous spin jobs that are constantly happening. Lowe is a likable guy, and he deserves better than this. If you're a fan of his it might be worth checking out, but otherwise this is one that won't require you to exercise your civic duty any time soon. Knife Fight is a political comedy with no teeth and a political drama with no emotional stakes. A good episode of Meet the Press would be better. But then again real life politicians are nowhere near as pretty as Rob Lowe or Carrie-Anne Moss.
Guilty of not knowing what party it belongs to, Knife Fight is sentenced to an endless loop of one episode of The Friday Filibuster.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R