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Case Number 00221

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Splendor

Sony // 1999 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // December 15th, 1999

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All Rise...

The Charge

"Some guys are emotionally equipped to handle something like this. I, unfortunately, am not one of those guys."

Opening Statement

Writer/Director Gregg Araki (Nowhere, The Doom Generation) is one of those "independent filmmakers" you're always hearing mentioned when time rolls around for Sundance or Cannes. About the only difference between him and the "typical" indie director is his age: 40. Putting that aside, Splendor is a simple little movie that breaks no new ground as it captures a few trends and concepts on-screen for an hour and a half. Remarkably similar to films such as Threesome, and trying to emulate much better visions of the "young-adult-in-the-'90s" theme such as Reality Bites and Singles, Splendor fails to reach these levels.

The Evidence

Thumbnail synopsis. Veronica (Kathleen Robertson, Beverly Hills 90210, Nowhere, Dog Park) is a young twentysomething who moves to LA seeking her star as an actress, desperate to escape the drudgery and normality of her previous life. While at a local club gig for a new (and horrible) band with a friend, she meets the two men that eventually change her life. Zed (Matt Keeslar, The Last Days of Disco, The Stupids, Quiz Show) is an airheaded and casual drummer in that same not-so-good band. Abel (Johnathon Schaech, Hush, Houdini, That Thing You Do!) is a moody, brooding struggling author. Veronica ends up in bed with Zed, then has a date with Abel and ends up in bed with him too.

The guys (as they end up being referred to collectively for most of the rest of the film) start out "sharing" Veronica (at her request), and eventually evolve into a three-way relationship where they live in the same house (Veronica's). Insert Ernest (Eric Mabius) as a successful television director with everything the other two guys don't have or aren't. The film then deals with the relationship issues between Veronica and the guys, and also Ernest's appearance.

Not to be overly critical, but Splendor is a fairly vapid and thoughtless tale, aimless as it wanders through a simple-minded script that never really addresses anything in a remotely realistic manner. Despite this, Splendor is interesting in a casual, non-engaged manner, as a series of occasional chuckles or situational comedies. While the film is billed as a "romantic comedy," it's really more of a romantic episode of Friends, but without the usually apt comedic talents of the NBC series' cast. To be fair, however, independent film fans are a rather specific niche of the audience, and they'll know what they're looking for when they seek this title out.

As for the disc itself, it's a solid, if unspectacular, transfer. Colors and edges are solid enough, but not great; average DVD quality is the word that comes to mind here. Better than analog, but you wouldn't use this disc as a reference to showcase your toys.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

The sound is mostly adequate for a non-action film. There are places where the soundstage rises or falls in volume, however, requiring some fiddling with volume levels to properly hear dialogue. Considering the rather simple needs of the soundtrack, this shouldn't have been allowed to occur. It's a minor problem though, not a huge one.

Closing Statement

A pretty good transfer for a film that didn't make very much at the box office; if all Indy films could get this kind of treatment life would be looking pretty good for niche fans. Aside from that, you'll either know why you're looking for this film, or you'll give a big "huh?" when someone asks you if you've seen it. Call it a merely average film, neither glaringly horrible nor appealingly good. Average.

The Verdict

The director is ordered to purchase a few writer's guides and is further instructed to read them intensively. He might also stand to live a year or two working a real job somewhere outside of New York or Los Angeles.

The studio and cast are excused with the court's indulgence.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 75
Audio: 65
Extras: 50
Acting: 65
Story: 40
Judgment: 59

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Portuguese)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Portuguese
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genre:
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Biographies on Gregg Araki and Jonathon Schaech

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Bomis Splendor Ring








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