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Case Number 20357

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ExTerminators

Image Entertainment // 2009 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge William Lee (Retired) // December 19th, 2010

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All Rise...

You will obey Judge William Lee or he will EX-TER-MIN-ATE, EX-TER-MIN-ATE.

Editor's Note

Our review of ExTerminators (Blu-ray), published November 4th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

A girls' club with killer attitude.

Opening Statement

"You simply cannot go around beating up men, Ms. Case. The state of Texas doesn't like it."

Facts of the Case

After a bad breakup with her boyfriend, Alex Case (Heather Graham, The Hangover) lets off a little too much steam while shopping when she punches out a man who crosses her. Ordered by the court to participate in a rage therapy support group, Alex meets other women who've struck back against men. Stella (Jennifer Coolidge, Gentlemen Broncos) is the owner of an extermination business. Nikki (Amber Heard, The Joneses) is a dental technician who often behaves like a sociopath.

When their friend Kim (Joey Lauren Adams, Come Early Morning) is roughed-up by her drunk husband, Alex, Stella and Nikki exact a little payback on the wife beater and inadvertently cause his death. Luckily, it looks like an accident. Soon after, Stella's business is booming when other members of the support group want to hire her special brand of pest elimination. Alex, unaware of Stella's new business model, begins dating a cop (Matthew Settle, Beneath) who just happens to be investigating a rash of "accidental" deaths of unrelated male victims.

The Evidence

ExTerminators has the makings for a dark comedy about women taking revenge on men and profiting from their murderous enterprise. However, the movie's overall tone is too light to suggest any real threat and the script isn't smart enough to be taken seriously. The result is a forgettable female-empowerment comedy graced with a few mildly enjoyable performances.

Long-time television cinematographer John Inwood makes his debut effort in the director's chair and he proves to be entirely competent though hardly innovative. The pacing of the film is fine and he gets some nice performances from the actors. He definitely knows that this isn't simply a longer version of a TV episode. Still, he resorts to some obvious tricks that really draw attention to themselves. His heroine is an accountant, a bookish and smart type who is sweet and helpful. What better way to communicate that than have her wear giant, nerdy glasses? Better still, when she becomes more sexy and confident, she can trade in her glasses for contact lenses. Well, a slightly less obvious ploy might have allowed Graham's character to be more than a one-dimensional mannequin.

Suzanne Weinert blows an original idea with a lazy script. The ladies' murderous side business is unbelievable because there is nothing to convince viewers that they're capable of pulling off these crimes. They're ticked off, sure, and Nikki is a little unhinged but could they really kill a man? And would they have the smarts to cover their tracks so effectively that they can stay undetected by a task force investigating this rash of homicides? The writing just isn't interested in the kind of details that would ground this story in any realm of believability. Instead, utterly impossible scenarios are presented such as police reporting that a man had a "blood alcohol level of 2.0, twice the legal limit," and that's after his body has been incinerated in a car fire.

None of the actors are required to give more than a one-note performance to define their characters and that's too bad. Alex is shielded by her sweet demeanor so there's no tension concerning what might happen to her. Nikki's anti-social behavior doesn't result in any consequences. Stella seems to be the most developed character, thanks to a smooth and relaxed turn by Coolidge, but her back-story is delivered in dropped hints that don't lead anywhere.

The DVD presentation is pretty shabby with video quality that's inconsistent. Some scenes look okay with decent saturation in the colors and a clean picture. Most of the time, though, there's ugly edge enhancement that makes the image look like it was mastered from a VHS tape. Scenes taking place in dark settings are very grainy. The audio is mixed in 5.1 surround but there's no call for it. It's an unremarkable soundtrack that's merely good enough for the movie's dialogue to be heard.

The trailer is listed as an extra on the packaging but I didn't find it on the disc.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

ExTerminators is really lightweight stuff so at least the performers look like they're enjoying themselves. This seems to be the case if you watch some of the 21 minutes' worth of gag reel material. The flubs and crack ups that didn't make it into the movie actually generate more laughs that the finished product. It also appears that the actors did a lot of improvising to try to give more depth to their characters.

Closing Statement

So this isn't the black comedy about murderous women that I might have preferred to see but it's not all bad. As a runner-up rental option you could do worse. Likeable performances from an attractive cast are almost enough to carry this disposable light comedy.

The Verdict

It's guilty but at the level of an inconsequential misdemeanor.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 70
Extras: 15
Acting: 75
Story: 65
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Comedy
• Crime

Distinguishing Marks

• Gag Reel

Accomplices

• IMDb








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