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Case Number 16550: Small Claims Court

The Compass

336 Productions // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 8th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Gordon Sullivan finds his way just fine using road signs and a map.

The Charge

From where you are…to where you want to be.

The Case

I've got an exclusive just for Verdict readers: it's my own guide to fulfilling your deepest desires. I call it The Path, and if you just follow my single, simple step, you'll be on your own path to inner greatness. Are you ready to hear how you too can lead a life of total fulfillment? Are you ready to learn the only activity you need to achieve your dreams? Well, here it is:

Become a self-help guru.

There, I told you it was simple. Just convince other people that you're more qualified to tell them how to live their lives than they are, and you're on your way. It's a very flexible plan, too. You can join the talk-show circuit, write a book, or even make a DVD. How do I know it works? Well, just take a look at The Compass, a mishmash of new-ageisms and a crappy "story" that's trying to selling you some reheated psychology and a load of duff. I'm sure everyone involved is going to end up paid, and that's the path to true happiness.

Alright, I'll turn the sarcasm generator off and give you the real scoop on The Compass. It can be divided into three parts. There are some talking-head interviews, some "success" stories, and a bizarre narrative featuring a SoCal surfer-looking guy trying to find his way.

The talking head interviews feature people with titles like "metaphysician," "life coach," and "yoga master." They share various tidbits about how to "find your compass" and be successful. The advice falls into two categories. The first are the bits that are simply too vague to be useful, like "your home is a place of power," and "your compass is what guides you to your goals." There's nothing wrong with any of these statements, but there's very little practical advice on how to act on the fact that your home is your place of power, or that you compass will point you towards your goals. The other half consists of the same-old self-help tricks people have been batting around for ages. For instance, your perceptions influence the world around you. On the positive side this means that imagining yourself at your goals makes it easier to get there. On the negative side, it means that constantly berating yourself for your failures will make it more difficult for you to succeed. Again, this is fine information, but this DVD is light on the practical stuff, and there have been dozens of books written about each of these topics so The Compass is a bit redundant.

There are also some "success stories" throughout the film; these are spotlights on individuals who are making a difference and living their life to its full potential and all that. They're actually pretty interesting, although also a little light on the practical details. I think that these might make a compelling feature stripped of all the talking-head nonsense.

The final aspect of the film is the most bizarre. In an apparent attempt to dramatize the whole "finding your way" aspect of The Compass, a significant portion of the running time is given over to watching a tanned young man wander around. Sometimes he dramatizes what the talking heads are discussing (he does a beautiful rendition of negative self-talk), but often he's just wandering. I can understand the desire to present some of the talking-head material in a new way, but these parts of the film are poorly integrated and don't really drive any of the points home.

On the technical front, we have a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, and serviceable surround and stereo audio. Extras (on a second disc) include more from the talking heads, a special guide to The Compass for teens, some outtakes, and a making-of.

I've seen worse self-help advice than what can be found in The Compass, and for the complete neophyte, it might be worth a look just as an introduction to some wide variety of self-help techniques. For those who've read more than a couple of these type of books, there won't be anything new in The Compass except a different set of talking heads. Give it a spin if you're feeling generous, but don't feel compelled to rush out and get it right away. For those who are already fans of The Compass, this is a strong DVD set that's surely worth a purchase.

The Verdict

The Compass is guilty of failing to point the way towards anything new.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: 336 Productions
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Instructional

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Interviews
• Outtakes


• Official Site

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