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Case Number 16327: Small Claims Court

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Powder Blue

Image Entertainment // 2008 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // May 7th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Roy Hrab is still shaking his head in disdain.

Editor's Note

Our review of Powder Blue (Blu-Ray), published May 26th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

Hope is found in the darkest places.

Opening Statement

Warning bells go off in my head when the back of a DVD case makes ridiculous statements, for example, "All-Star cast accounts for more than $4 billion in box office!" Guess what? The case for Powder Blue makes that exact proclamation. Watching the movie only confirmed my fears, but what can be reasonably expected from a movie with an "All-star cast" that goes practically straight to DVD?

Facts of the Case

An ex-con (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas), a stripper (Jessica Biel, The Illusionist), a mortician (Eddie Redmayne, The Good Sheppard), and an ex-priest (Forest Whitaker, The Last King Of Scotland) walk into a bar. Sorry, just kidding. These individuals live in Los Angeles and, in the days leading up to Christmas, their lives will intersect in profound and meaningful ways. Well, that's what the makers of this film are going for, anyways.

The Evidence

I don't like going out of my way to trash movies I dislike and I don't intend to do that here, but Powder Blue really annoyed me. I'm not quite sure why it provoked such a reaction. Maybe it had something to do with seeing Patrick Swayze glammed up as a strip club owner called "Velvet Larry." More likely, however, is that the movie is lousy, semi-coherent, and structured in a way that has been done to death through films like Traffic, Syriana, Magnolia, Babel, and Crash. You get the picture, too bad the Hollywood doesn't. Enough already, please.

So, if you've seen any of the movies mentioned above you know how Powder Blue will play out. There are chance meetings, reconciliations, self-loathing, flashbacks, miscommunications, emergencies, and all the rest, including a transsexual, a young child in a coma, and a dog that gets hit by a hearse. Yes, it's a classic tale of redemption, the preciousness of human relationships, and the short time we have on this planet to make meaningful connections with others and ourselves. There's also some pseudo-spiritually thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, it's derivative, contrived, pointless, and a poor substitute for a simple, straightforward narrative.

It's not all bad, though. The film eventually ends.

Initially, I felt sorry for the actors for having to wade through this junk, but then I remembered they chose and got paid to work on this. The main actors don't humiliate themselves too much, apart from Biel. Why she agreed to portray a drug addicted stripper is beyond me. The supporting actors, which include Lisa Kudrow (Analyze This) and Kris Kristofferson (Blade), escape major embarrassment. The lone exception is Swayze, who looks silly in a long blonde wig. Have mercy.

We were sent a screener copy to review, so the comments on video and audio quality are not applicable to the final retail release. The video, aside from periodically switching to black and white, was soft, gritty, and lacked detail. The screener's Dolby Digital 2.0 audio was adequate, although the case states that the final release features 5.1 surround. Also, the retail version is to have Spanish and English subtitles.

The screener had no extras; however, the DVD case stated that the final release will have a commentary with director Timothy Linh Bui (Green Dragon) and producer Tracey Stanley (The Whole Ten Yards), a "Making Of" featurette, a photo gallery, and a theatrical trailer.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

For the randy teenagers out there, Jessica Biel is topless in a couple of scenes, but such people probably already know about these scenes. Indeed, a little internet searching reveals Powder Blue being referred to as the "Jessica Biel topless movie" and the "Jessica Biel stripper movie." Well, there it is.

Closing Statement

This is a mediocre film and not worth your precious time. Instead, read a book, clean your house, or play with your children. There are plenty of better things to do.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb
• Official Site

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