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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • None
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus
Get Well Soon
Lions Gate/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . M15+ . PAL


It’s a noble thing indeed to declare your support for the spirit of independent cinema, but as anyone who’s spent any length of time renting videos knows all too well, for every great indie film there are four awful ones. All too often, an independent filmmaker will get his or her dream project up and running and then smother it with so much pretension and self-consciousness that it almost becomes an embarrassment to watch. Get Well Soon, while certainly not scraping the bottom of the indie barrel, is perilously close to being one of the worst cinematic misfires in recent memory.

It’s not as though you need gobs of money and some big names in your cast to come up with a half-decent film - hell, Darren Aronofsky had neither when he made the $60,000 miracle that is Pi, and countless other unknown, struggling filmmakers have delivered the goods without stopping to wonder about the marketing possibilities. But writer-director Justin McCarthy (brother of ‘80s teen star Andrew, no less) finds himself in a slightly more comfortable position with Get Well Soon. Not only does he have copious sponsors and a distributor (Lion’s Gate) prepared to shell out for a Dolby Digital sound mix, but he’s also got a pair of attention-attracting lead actors at hand in Vincent Gallo and Courteney Cox (and with a million-dollar-an-episode pay packet for Friends, she can afford to be altruistic).

The story’s a potential winner on paper as well: TV talk show host Bobby Bishop (Gallo) is disillusioned with the trappings of fame and feeling “empty”, and after having an expletive-powered minor breakdown on live television he runs away, back to New York where the girl he used to love, Lily (Cox), whose brother’s in a psychiatric hospital and whose mother is going insane and thinks she’s homeless, is now living unhappily with a new man who happens to be a closet homosexual. In his attempts to win his girl back Bobby is repeatedly arrested and subjected to the down side of fame; meanwhile a plot is hatched to steal Matthew Broderick’s dog (no, really).

It’s all rather odd, and could well have been made into a quirky, warm-hearted romance - indeed, that appears to have been the intention. But problems are rife from the beginning. Gallo as Bobby is broodingly charismatic but very hard to either like or connect with, and that’s a fatal flaw by itself in a story that is anchored around Bobby’s gradual redemption. Cox is competent as Lily but never fleshes the character out - she’s The Girlfriend Who Still Carries A Torch and that’s it. We never really get to know her, and as a result it’s hard to care much about Bobby and her getting back together - in fact, by the end of the film the jury’s still out on whether we even like Bobby.

McCarthy paces the story at a crawl and offers a sub-plot that’s totally pointless (the nutbar-steals-dog angle) in what appears to be a blatant attempt to get the run time up to 90 minutes. Throughout the film he jump-cuts with monotonous regularity between different takes of the same scene, a technique intended as clever and arty that in reality is seriously annoying. The film’s devoid of a music score for a good deal of its running time, which doesn’t help alleviate the creeping feeling of tedium at all.

There are some good points, and they’re both actor-driven. Romanian-born Elina Löwensohn (who will be very familiar to fans of Hal Hartley’s movies; she’s also in Schindler’s List) is enlisted to play Lily’s Kooky Friend, and takes to the role with such unabashed zeal that she steals every scene she’s in. And Jeffrey Tambor is completely at home in his role as Bobby’s tormented manager Mitchell - it’s basically his famous character of Hank from The Larry Sanders Show slightly rewritten to fit the story, and Tambor makes the most of the opportunity.

We’re sure a lot of people put a lot of hard work and passion into making Get Well Soon; if only a little bit of that passion had made it to the screen, we might be watching a much more appealing movie.


Offered in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16:9 enhanced, this DVD transfer of Get Well Soon really can’t be faulted. It’s pristine-clean, wonderfully crisp and sharp, loaded with detail and without a single film problem or compression glitch to complain about from start to finish. Black levels are maybe a touch too high, impacting somewhat on shadow detail, but that’s a minor problem that nobody is going to be bothered by.

Two audio tracks are provided; Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0. The fact that both tracks sound almost identical speaks volumes; there is very little in the way of surround-sound excitement here, and this largely dialogue-based story makes sure that for 90% of the time the only channel that’s getting a workout is the centre. Still, it’s nice to see a choice of soundtracks provided, and that the movie’s native sound format is one of them. Audio quality is fine throughout, with dialogue never causing problems with distortion even during emotional scenes.

The only extra is a theatrical trailer (ironic, considering this one appears to have gone direct to video) which makes the film sound a whole lot more interesting, fun and romantic than it actually is.

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  •   And I quote...
    "...a lot of people put a lot of hard work and passion into making Get Well Soon; if only a little bit of that passion had made it to the screen..."
    - Anthony Horan
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