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Case Number 06222: Small Claims Court

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Wicker Park

MGM // 2004 // 115 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 18th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle doesn't foresee Pier One Imports doing a product tie-in with this Josh Hartnett flick.

The Charge

Passion never dies.

The Case

What would happen if the woman you loved suddenly disappeared without a trace? I'm talking vanished into thin air without even a hint of what happened. This is the predicament Matthew (Josh Hartnett, Pearl Harbor) finds himself in when the girl of his dreams, Lisa (Diane Kruger, Troy), vanishes in the Windy City of Chicago without a trace. Years later Matthew thinks he sees his true love in a crowded café that sets of a firestorm of obsession, passion, and discovery. As Matthew digs deeper and deeper into Lisa's disappearance—along with an old friend (Matthew Lillard, Scream) and a mysterious new lover (Rose Byrne, Troy)—he discovers that love can hurt…and maybe even kill.

Wicker Park is supposedly a film noir thriller. Yet I couldn't find any "thriller" aspects to it, nor any…err, well…noir. It's a movie about people not telling each other the things they need to hear, which in turns perpetuates a plot cobbled together from other better, far more engaging films. It's a love triangle (or rectangle, as it were, maybe even an octagon had it been 20 minutes longer) between Josh Hartnett, a couple of semi-attractive yet unmemorable women, and that goofy looking guy who played Shaggy in Scooby-Doo and its sequel.

Filmed in both Chicago and Canada, Wicker Park is a film about young people trying to find love in a major metropolis, in this case my own hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Think if it as "Psychotic Sex in the Midwest City." I don't want to go into many details about the film's twists and turns, lest I ruin it for some viewer who really will like this movie. What I can say is that by the end of the film, I was sitting on my couch thinking to myself, "I wonder why they don't make chocolate flavored Bugle snack chips?" I was thinking this because I'd lost almost all interest in Wicker Park. It's that boring.

Wicker Park is one of those rare instances where I feel I have very little to say about the film after the credits roll. Is it a really bad movie? No, but I'd have preferred that—at least when it's a bad movie it can move beyond flaccid to something mildly entertaining. Wicker Park never manages to move past banality, and that's due in part to the weak, time-hopping screenplay by Brandon Boyce (based on the film L'Apprtement), ho-hum direction by Paul McGuigan (The Reckoning), and the almost sleepwalker-like performances by Josh Hartnett, Diane Kruger, and Rose Byrne. Only Matthew Lillard as the clingy Luke shows any signs of life, and they're not nearly enough to save this dramatic Titanic from going under. Kruger and Byrne have all the charisma of toenail clippings, while Hartnett runs around the screen saying things like "When you see something from afar, you develop a fantasy. But when you see it up close, 9 times out of 10, you wish you hadn't." Hartnett's character and I have something in common—9 times out of 10, I wish I'd fallen asleep during Wicker Park.

What else can be said about Wicker Park? It has end credits, which is always a bonus for a film like this, since it signals that the end has come and I can finally do something meaningful, like watch bread mold. If you can't tell already, my feelings for Wicker Park are like my opinions on chewing tobacco: It's not something I'd recommend, nor is it very much fun, but you're free to try it if you'd like.

Wicker Park is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Whatever you think of the movie, the good news is that Wicker Park's transfer looks great. The picture sports solid black levels and bright, vibrant colors. There is no detectable dirt or grain in the image, and the picture is free of any edge enhancement or haloing. Overall, this is an excellent transfer by MGM.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English, as well as Stereo 2.0 Surround in French. The biggest boost on this soundtrack comes in the form of the pop/rock soundtrack and Cliff Martinez's funky film score. Otherwise, the only true surround sounds are background noises and ambient sound. This is often a very front heavy sound mix. Also included on this disc are French and Spanish subtitles.

Fans of the film will be happy to see that MGM has included a few extra features on this disc. If you want to revisit Wicker Park again, there's a commentary track by director Paul McGuigan and star Josh Hartnett discussing the intricacies of the screenplay and production, a few deleted scenes, a gag reel of the actors blowing their lines, a music video for the song "Against All Odds" (originally made famous in the 1980s by Phil Collins), a small photo gallery, a pointless soundtrack spot, and the film's original theatrical trailer.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 63

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary by Director Paul McGuigan and Josh Hartnett
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Music Video "Against All Odds"
• Photo Gallery
• Soundtrack Spot
• Trailer


• IMDb
• Official Site

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