Judge Gordon Sullivan enjoys going out every so often for a round of trivia about pubs.
Greatness is trivial.
Genre mashups are often really fun. By taking a pair of expectations and putting them together, clever filmmakers can have the best of both worlds, and usually laughs are the best thing to add into the mix. Horror comedies, romantic comedies, action comedies—putting laughs into another genre often results in pure gold. Answer This! tries to take that formula to the next level, combining a couple of different comic genres to create a coming-of-age college comedy (think With Honors) with a wacky sports comedy (think Beerfest). The result is a mishmash of old tropes that hits all the right beats but doesn't add anything new to the mix.
Paul (Christopher Gorham, The Ledge) has a lot on his plate. He's got a dissertation on The Bible as literature to finish (or he'll be in hot water with his professor father), he's got a chance to win a national title with his pub-trivia team, and he's got a young lady who thinks he's the best. How can he juggle everything when his dissertation defense is the same day as the trivia championship: Can you Answer This?
If I'm being charitable, Answer This! is like buying a pair of "boyfriend" jeans, or a pre-worn sweater. The idea in both cases is to have comfort without having to put in the time and energy required to make something actually worn in and comfortable. Answer This! accomplishes the task by hitting every single beat you would expect from both the college comedy and sports comedy genres. Of course our hero has a crushing deadline, and a conflict, and a love interest. Of course his team has a weakness (neither he nor his first partner have any sports knowledge, so they recruit a jock), and must go through a few difficulties before the inevitable final battle. In that respect, the film does everything right. Everyone is likeable enough, there are no surprises as the plot moves from point to point, and the conclusion is satisfyingly inevitable.
If I'm being less charitable, Answer This! is a rehash of better movies, throwing every possible plot point from multiple genres into a giant pot to see what floats to the top for a laugh. Based on just the summary above, even the least savvy viewer can telegraph 95 percent of what's going to happen during every act of Answer This!. Based on that, the viewer moves from obvious moment to obvious moment, carried along by the tired logic of the sports film run amok. Unless you're pressed for time and need to compress two films into one, then you're better off just watching something like Real Genius or With Honors, followed by Beerfest or Dodgeball. That way, all the jokes actually land, and the two halves won't be in conflict like they sometimes are in Answer This!.
Despite its problems, Answer This! gets a really solid DVD release, especially for an indie flick. The standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is bright and clean throughout. Skin tones are spot on, and color saturation is consistent. No compression artifacts or other digital trickery mar the image either. The Dolby 5.1 surround track keeps things clean and clear, with dialogue perfectly balanced with the film's score. The surrounds don't get much use, but that's to be expected from this kind of film.
Extras are pretty impressive for an indie flick as well. They start with a commentary featuring a pair of the film's producers (Mike Farah and Anna Wenger) and the film's writer/director Christopher Farah. It's a good mix of production stories and tales of working on very little budget. In some moments the commentary is more entertaining than the film. There's also a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs for eight minutes with interviews with the cast and crew combined with some production footage. Then there are some deleted scenes and outtakes, along with a trailer gallery.
Answer This! isn't a bad film. The filmmakers describe it as a smaller, more personal project, and that it may be. It's also a film that doesn't aim very high, but hits its low-hanging targets. Those with a penchant for college comedies, sports flicks, and/or pub trivia might want to give this one a look. Also, the actors are all pretty solid, so their fans should enjoy this one as well. Finally, those who have a career in indie cinema ahead of them could probably learn something from the copious informative extras on this disc.
Greatness may be trivial, but Answer This! is not guilty.
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