What do you get when you mix sexual references, some violence and a PG rating? Well you get this very darkly comical film Where The Money Is. The black comedy really hit some funny bones over this reviewer’s way, and the humour is clean, none of this Farrelly Brothers toilet humour. Paul Newman is just superb and his role in this film really brings out his acting skills. For the opening few scenes he doesn’t move or say anything no matter what is going on around him, and he does this very mysteriously and very well. However with this brilliant actor comes a downside. And he goes by the name Dermot Mulroney. He is just so frustrating to watch on screen – sure, he can deliver his lines perfectly, but his acting must have been left at home. He is very static and sharp and it just is so irritating to watch such a frozen actor. But still, with this film is able to redeem itself with Linda Fiorentino. Fiorentino plays Carol, a very strong and bold character, who can act but the thing that makes her performance so good is that she is believable. Her on-screen presence is so bold and her line delivery is so sincere that she really shines brightly in this film, especially after a more violent and gross script in Dogma.
But anyway, Carol (Fiorentino) is a dedicated employee who works at a nursing home and is married to her high-school sweetheart Wayne (Mulroney). One day, Harry Manning (Newman) is delivered to the home after having a stroke. Now at this point it must be said that Harry is a bank robber who was caught and has spent most of his life in prison, but after having a stroke has been moved to a place of greater care. Carol bonds with a Wayne and has her suspicions about the state that Harry is in. She tests his condition by pushing him to the limit, and to the end of a jetty at one point – but you have to see it to get that. Carol sees Harry as a way out of her boring and dreary life and marriage and uses him as a key to do her own bank job, and use him as a ticket out of town.
The film starts out with the Egypt Dolby Digital trailer presented in a 1.85:1 aspect. This would be one of the most boring Dolby trailers, but one of the most effective too at testing out the range of the speakers, including heavy usage by the subwoofer.
But anyway, the film itself is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. During the entire movie the audience is treated to some great cinematography by Thomas Burstyn who offers some interesting and rare camera angles to the overall look of the film, and also adds symbolism to the plot and develops more as the film progresses.
The colours appear slightly muted, but do appear very realistic with correct hues and no saturation. There are no MPEG artefacts but during one or two scenes, some minor film artefacts can be seen. They were noticeable during one scene, and this was due to a bright background, and there may have been more artefacts through the entire film, but due to many of the dark scenes, not as visible. But during that one scene, it can be fairly distracting. It appears as if the artefacts all decide to attack the frame at the same time. There is some minor grain visible in some of the dark scenes, but nothing that is overly distracting.
The black levels are excellent with great shadow detail. The last 50 minutes of the film are all in very dark locations and the blacks come up bold, solid and black, and the shadows are also very bold. This disc is a single layer disc, so there is no layer change.
Right from the Dolby Digital trailer, you are in for a treat. The two film companies logos really use the 5.1 capabilities and add to the mysterious tone of the beginning of the film. The audio in the movie is English Dolby Digital 5.1, and is a very bright audio track. The surrounds were used for music, and in the last half of the film for rear spookiness. The music that is used in the film is used very nicely, most memorably with one scene where the front half of the soundstage was used for a radio-quality audio track, while the rears and the subwoofer played the CD-quality audio track. It just sounded so good!
There is some great use of the front soundstage in this film, where dialogue comes primarily from the centre, but also from the left and right on occasions. The effects that are used are spread out and come from the Front Left and Right and the Rear Left and Right and really leaves the Centre speaker for dialogue only. The subwoofer gets a lot of action, and it might just be that it is for backing up music, but the volume of it is very loud and powerful (go the bass!) where on other discs the subwoofer level is very low. So for this reviewer, it isn’t a complaint!
The music was composed by Mark Isham who is also responsible for The X-Files music. The music is very eerie and mysterious to start off with, but then turns to a very cheeky and bright theme. The must adds so much to the film, especially to the dark comedic scenes.
There are some slight lip sync problems where the dialogue was re-recorded in a studio during post-production. And it really does sound like it. It sounds like it was recorded in someone’s tool shed. There are also some pretty bad foley effects, but still these two problems can’t detract from a very interesting audio track.
Extras wise, it is a fairly disappointing disc with only a Theatrical Trailer which is 2:14 long, and does a very good job at telling the story. There is only one menu screen, and that is the main menu where you have four options – Play Movie, Select Scenes, Theatrical Trailer and Subtitles On or Off. A very simple menu, but one of the most effective and aesthetically looking menus this reviewer has seen. The disc starts out with the usual Village Roadshow logo, and the copyright warnings and film Classification, and then the classification merges out and the menu options merge in. It is a very smooth menu with sleek transitions.
However, there is also an error on the packaging. It says that Dermot Mulroney appeared in Three To Tango, but guess who picked that out? Well if you hadn’t guessed, it was yours truly who also reviewed that title. Dermot Mulroney appears in My Best Friend’s Wedding and it is Dylan McDermott who appears in Three To Tango.
Overall, this film is very nicely presented with a good video transfer and a superb audio transfer. Sure the disc is lacking in features, but the plot and movie quality knocks the disc up a bit. This is a movie that is sure to be loved by Newman fans and even just my most people. Its simple plot and dark comedy really makes it an enjoyable film to watch. Not necessarily a must-have DVD, but definitely rent it!