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Case Number 18445

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Unbeatable Harold

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2009 // 82 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Carlton (Retired) // March 3rd, 2010

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All Rise...

Defeatable Daniel Carlton doesn't have much of judicial record.

The Charge

There are Winners…And Losers…And then There's, Unbeatable Harold…

Opening Statement

Heartfelt, goofy, and relatively clean, Unbeatable Harold is not your usual independent comedy. This is a huge contrast to the many comedies we've seen in this post-American Pie era of storytelling.

Facts of the Case

Harold (Gordon Michaels) is one of a kind. He idolizes Elvis and this shows in his long sideburns, beat-up pink Cadillac, and rhinestone-fitted shirts. When not working as the assistant manager of the Wagontrain Steakhouse, he dreams of becoming a meteorologist. One day on the drive home from work, Harold comes to the aid of a stranded motorist named Wanda (Nicole DeHuff), who just broke up with her rock star boyfriend Jake Salamander (Dylan McDermott). Harold gets Wanda a job at the restaurant and hopes their friendship will develop into something more.

The Evidence

Unbeatable Harold is the brainchild of Gordon Michaels, who originated the character in a series of stage plays back in 1988. The film wrapped principal photography in 2006 and had a very short release in a few US theaters, only to be delayed three years before being released on DVD. Harold is a quirky and interesting character, and rarely do we see someone onscreen so devoid of any guile. His efforts are so passionate and sincere we want him to succeed in everything he does, even though he really doesn't have much going for him.

One thing Unbeatable Harold does have going for it is the unlikely cast, who provide some offbeat performances. We have acting heavyweight Charles Durning as Harold's father, Henry Winkler as Harold's boss, and Gladys Knight as a waitress. Appearances by Phyllis Diller, Michelle Phillips, and the late Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist) add even more color to the spectrum. To top it all off, Dylan McDermott plays an overaged rocker trying to climb his way back to stardom. None of the performances are life changing, but they do give the film an air of novelty that a cast of no-names wouldn't have; similar to the way Crispin Glover and Howard Hesseman made Rubin and Ed an instant classic to the few who have seen it.

The film is rated PG-13, which seems unnecessary considering I can't remember a single word of profanity and the only glimpse of nudity is a woman's back. With the physical comedy and numerous fart jokes by Charles Durning, younger kids might like this film, should they ever see it. I suspect the rating is going to work against its life on DVD, since parents might be reluctant to show this to an 11 or 12 year old. If anything, Harold is the kind of character kids should see, since he has the best intentions and even prays for his sick father by saying, "Dear Lord, I know you are probably busy with a lot of work orders coming in, but I was hoping I could put one in for my dad." That one line sums up Harold's character better than anything I could have said.

The disc contains the usual extras: deleted scenes, commentary, a couple of featurettes and a blooper reel. The best is the inspiring commentary by Gordon Michaels, who talks extensively about the difficulties of getting a film released and the many breaks he had in the process. His gratitude toward the actors and crew is apparent, as he has nothing but kind words about everyone. He sings the highest praises for Nicole DeHuff, who died only months after the film's completion and he seems to treasure their time working together. Like the main character, Michaels seems like an extremely likable person, and it is no wonder that so many big names wanted to be part of this low budget project. I may have enjoyed the commentary more than the film itself, simply because of the manner in which he addressed the listener. Michaels was obviously very humbled to be recording a commentary for the film, and I was happy to listen.

Closing Statement

Unbeatable Harold is a unique film that gets high points for sincerity and, although I only laughed a few times, Harold's kindness won me over.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 70
Audio: 80
Extras: 60
Acting: 70
Story: 70
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Comedy
• Independent
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Blooper Reel

Accomplices

• IMDb








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