Ain't nothing funny bout having no money. (What horrible grammar, ugh!)
Just when I thought I had seen the absolute worst disc ever printed (America X-Treme), here comes The Scheme, which manages to be just as painful to watch as the former.
It's another Artisan disc, which usually guarantees one thing: it's unwatchable junk.
Facts of the Case
Ray (Jimmy Fallon), August (Brian Hooks), and Martin (Nathan Anderson) will do anything for a quick buck. Giving blood every day (instead of once a week), stealing the mail in the hopes of scoring a huge check, and devouring moldy hot dogs are just a few of their schemes.
After the failure of their latest scheme, they unwittingly read a letter from Allison (Andie Tecec), a young Catholic schoolgirl. A new scheme is quickly hatched: Ray will seduce the girl, videotape them having sex, and then sell it to a tabloid for thousands of dollars. All goes according to plan until Ray falls for his victim.
You may recall that in my review of Bar Fighter, I said that "at long last, here is the worst film of 2003." I spoke prematurely. The Scheme is so much worse than Bar Fighter that this may be the first year my Top 10 Worst list will be the hardest list to compile.
Yes, The Scheme is a really bad film. It was filmed in 1998 under the title Just One Look and then shelved. No distributor wanted it. In 2000, the film was retitled The Entrepreneurs and played a few film festivals. The result was the same; still no distributor wanted it. The film remained on the shelf gathering cobwebs until now when Artisan obtained the rights and rushed it to DVD. Oh, lucky us.
There have been great films made about con men. Unfortunately, writers M.A.G. (who also directed this dud) and Kamala Dawson took the easy way out. They find their premise absolutely hysterical and that is deadly for a comedy. The key to a successful comedy is to remain objective during development. You can find your basic premise promising, but it is important to remember that what you may find funny at the first draft stage will not necessarily translate to film.
I have the feeling that they made the film using the first draft. They load the film with dialogue that will cause little kids to wince, and there is not one ounce of wit to be found here. How I am tired of seeing films using religion as a sounding board for a comedy! It seems to be a trend to bring religion directly into these sleazy comedies. Why not leave religion out of it and just make the girl a normal college age one? The basic premise could still work without the Catholic schoolgirl angle.
The acting is just as awful as the script. Jimmy Fallon has grown as a performer and can actually give a good comic performance when given strong material. Here he is green and his performance is hammy and contrived. We're supposed to like him, but we never get to know him enough to like him. It doesn't help that his director betrays him with this material. Co-stars Brian Hooks and Nathan Anderson aren't much better. Hooks has some talent, as evidenced by his early film work (Beloved, Bulworth), but it isn't in evidence here. He seems content to just phone it in, and why shouldn't he? It's not like there is anything in the script that requires work. Anderson overacts like no actor has before. Andie Tecec is dull and annoying as the object of Ray's affection (and scheme); a few years after this she became a regular on the MTV series Undressed.
Why did I mention that tidbit of information? It leads me to my next point. The movie has the tone of a gratuitous comedy but when the big payoff comes (when the sexual twist is about to occur), they decide to become discreet. No nudity is shown and they decide to go for the kind of sex scene Cinemax wouldn't show in a million years. When you build your film on that kind of payoff, they should do the right thing and just go all the way. To pull a bait and switch is not only wrong, but it's cheating your potential audience.
Artisan continues their classic tradition of horrible transfers with The Scheme. The full frame transfer may be their absolute worst to date. Loaded with grain, dirt, and constant haziness, this film really is painful to watch. If you do have the iron will to sit through this, don't forget the Visine. You'll need it!
Usually I complain when studios give us full frame transfers of films that were composed for widescreen. Just this once, I'm willing to make an exception. The Scheme is so incompetently made that I have high doubts there are any meaningful compositions. In fact, I doubt the director even knows what the term composition means.
Artisan continues their disguising of crappy sound with two stereo sound mixes: one in Dolby Digital 5.1 and one in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. It doesn't make the slightest difference which one you choose because they're both awful. Both sound tinny and very muffled, and dialogue is difficult to hear at times. Now that I think about it, that's a good thing.
Artisan actually bothered to include some extra features. Figures they would choose one of the worst movies in their library to receive the "honor." First is a commentary track with director M.A.G. (Marcus Andreas Gautsen), producer Roger Monde, and executive producer Duncan Rosher. These guys actually think they have talent and constantly toot their own horn. Did they actually watch the same movie I did? Regardless of that, this track is just terrible. They laugh at their own "clever" lines and don't give much in the way of information. Overall, it's a complete waste of time.
Twenty minutes of deleted scenes follow. They're just as awful as the scenes that made it into the final cut. Optional commentary can be selected but I didn't even bother by this point.
A short featurette titled "The Making of The Scheme" is your standard puff piece masquerading as an insider's look at the production. Avoid this one as well.
A theatrical trailer is included and it doesn't have much to do with the film itself. A wise move, no doubt, since The Scheme is total rubbish.
Why are you even asking me if this is worth a rental or purchase? I wouldn't recommend watching The Scheme even if they were offering it for free on network television! Artisan actually thinks this tripe is worth $19.99. Well, I have news for them.
The Scheme is even guiltier than Scott Peterson. Next case!
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary Track by M.A.G., Roger Mende, and Duncan
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