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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Pan&Scan
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus
The Martins (Rental)
Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 83 mins . M . PAL


The Martins are your normal suburban family. Not. Actually, the Martins are as far from normal as you can imagine. We have the father, Robert (pronounced Rober’ in their dialect, played by Lee Evans from There’s Something About Mary and The Fifth Element), who is always trying to get even with everyone. Then we have the mother, Angie (Kathy Burke from Absolutely Fabulous) who is the “sex-on-legs” housewife. Then there is Katie (Terri Dumont) their 14 year old daughter, who is pregnant – odd you may say, but seriously this is happening in today’s age... Then there is Little Bob (Eric Byrne), the loner at school, 97th on the popularity listing. And the mother (Linda Bassett) who hates Robert and loves her daughter Angie. What a family, right?

So how to classify The Martins? Well black comedy is definitely here, as well as drama and, as often tends to happen, there's also crap. The film opens promisingly, but tends to fail due to a large sour note. Attitude, originality and wit are shown in the opening scenes, but one event fuelled by the mother-in-law turns the story upside down into a relationship drama. It is otherwise still full of language, violence, and at times seems to flounder in celluloid with no real purpose. With their constant bickering and rabbiting they put the diss in dysfunctional. In some respects, you could see this as a black-humoured human version of The Simpsons minus the enjoyable fun satire in favour of leaving just a sour and distasteful flavour in your mouth. It tries to reach down and be meaningful, but because of the film’s premise it is impossible for it to seriously deal with such adult issues. The film's outcome is overly simplified, making it impossible to believe that such events can really change a person so quickly. It seems to be a Hollywood-style simplistic film made in Britain. If this is a taste of things to come then God help us all. OK, admittedly there are a few giggles in the film, but generally it just fails to hit.

"Go and brush your head and gather the sperms."

Robert Martin gets through life by winning everything. Well, to be more correct by trying to win everything. Yet he never gets a break, and there's always someone else to blame for why he hasn’t won. So what does he want to do? Get even of course. So he threatens with a gun, flashes his bum (which is the ugliest bum on screen, just as an observation), verbally abuses and physically intimidates the people that get in his way. His wife is faithful and stands by his side, living on the thread of a dream that tomorrow will bring a new Range Rover or a desert island holiday. But after Robert misses out on a desert holiday that he promised his family he goes to the house of the actual winners and holds them hostage to steal their holiday. But what is to follow shows that he can’t always get what he wants, and that he can’t always get even, but he can be made even.


The Martins is presented in the enhanced aspect of 1.85:1, with portions in 2.35:1. The packaging states 1.85:1, and that this is the original theatrical aspect, but technical stats for the film at IMDB state the original format is 2.35:1, the aspect of the opening credits. The fact that the opening credits are in 'Scope and the film is in widescreen is the first clue that it has been altered, but the framing of many shots does appear slightly off, with some bizarre artistic frames as well as obvious signs of pan and scanning.

Apart from this flaw in the transfer, the remaining factors seem minor and incidental compared to the panning and scanning. Colours are saturated with a heavy palette filled with greys and muted colours. Bright colours are generally non-existent, yet this isn’t an issue given the tone of the characters and their surroundings. One vertically parallel film scratch can be seen for a few seconds in the closing of the film, and some slight aliasing effects can be seen throughout. No major blocking effects are seen, as we can expect from Village Roadshow, but one slight case of posterisation can be seen during the emotional climax. Film grain generally isn’t an issue, with the odd black scene having a dirty appearance. Blacks are solid, with some low level noise, and shadow detail is adequate for the genre and production values of the film. This single-sided, single-layered disc doesn’t have a layer change, and the English subtitles are clear, accurate and easy to read.

One audio track has been included, and this is in English, encoded by the Dolby Digital codec. Dialogue levels are reasonable, but the dialect that the actors speak tends to make some lines terribly hard to understand. This can be easily overcome by switching on the subtitles and 'rewinding', but this is still a hassle. 5.1-wise, the track is suitable, but nothing terribly special. The subwoofer channel absolutely rips into the living room with an aggressive sound. Surround channels are limited to the odd ambient effect, and are subtly effective.

This rental disc features 16:9-enhanced menus with some slight animation and background audio, with the addition of one extra feature – a 2:12 theatrical trailer which tells a muddled version of what the film is about.

The Martins is black, weird and really oddball. Period. The video transfer that accompanies the film is also slightly oddball with some unusual widescreen aspect changes. The audio transfer is suitable, reasonable and nothing terribly exciting. The addition of the trailer is good so you can see what you’re about to get yourself into, but by the time you’ve hired it from the video store it's a little late for that one...

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  •   And I quote...
    "Thank God I’m not one of them..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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