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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Stark Raving Mad (2002)

"When you get that break, you take it."
- Ben (Seann William Scott)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: January 27, 2004

Stars: Seann William Scott, Lou Diamond Phillips
Other Stars: Timm Sharp, Patrick Breen, John B. Crye, Suzy Nakamura, Dave Foley, Monet Mazur, Jody Racicot, Adam Arkin
Director: Drew Daywalt, David Schneider

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, language, some drug use and violence
Run Time: 01h:40m:52s
Release Date: January 13, 2004
UPC: 043396024878
Genre: action comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BA- C+

DVD Review

You know, that old "don't judge a book by its cover" adage is really one right on statement. When Stark Raving Mad, a little known 2002 heist flick starring Seann William Scott (American Pie, Dude, Where's My Car?) crossed my desk, I'll confess that my expectations were pretty low. Or should I say very low, as in gutter-level low.

I couldn't come close to envisioning dopey Stifler as some sort of rugged lead, and based on the cover art where he's dangling like a low-rent Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible, I think I may have actually shuddered a bit with a mixture of pure dread and tempered apprehension, because I've seen enough bad movies to know enough to throw up a defense or two when my cinematic spider-senses start tingling.

Imagine my surprise when I popped this one in my player, and was rewarded with an unexpectedly entertaining and foul-mouthed heist-gone-bad outing that is packed nicely with the requisite batch of colorful characters and off-kilter situations that were actually funny.

Seann William Scott is Ben, a two-bit criminal who owes a huge favor to one Mr. Gregory, a wickedly vengeful crime boss played to campy, Gary Oldman-perfection by Lou Diamond Phillips, here sporting an alarming head full of bleached white hair. Gregory wants Ben to steal an ancient Oriental statue from a bank vault, and Ben's six-months-in-the-making plan involves orchestrating a noisy, after-hours rave at a crowded nightclub (it shares a common wall with the bank) to act as cover for all of the heavy-duty wall drilling and explosions required to reach the vaults by his small team of bickering thieves, which includes the requisite hacker (Suzy Nakamura), a demolitions expert (John B. Crye), and a safe-cracker (Patrick Breen), all with their own special mix of comical idiosyncrasies. At one point the story becomes kind of like a goofy variation on Speed, because we learn that if the decibel level at the rave falls below 6.0, it will trigger one of the bank's high-tech sonic alarms, so in between all types of distractions and problems, Ben and his dense sidekick Rikki (Timm Sharp) have to make sure the club D.J. keeps the techno beats-per-minute loud and thumping.

The writing/directing team of Drew Daywalt and David Schneider have roots in music video production, and that background shows through via their frequent use of kinetic jump cuts and kitschy angles, and their less-than-static approach lends itself pretty well to the funky, jumpy after-hours story structure. Even the potentially annoying "talk to the camera" schtick that Seann William Scott uses, to offer a bit of backstory here and there, seems to play well within the confines of the fast edits, quick cuts and edgy dialogue that at times reverbs with hints of Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie.

This certainly isn't the greatest movie ever made by any stretch of the imagination (and who says it has to be?), but so often these straight-to-video titles are so awful that it is a wonder a studio even bothered to release them at all. Stark Raving Mad finds itself landing more towards the opposite end of that spectrum, and fits easily in the spirit of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or The Big Hit.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Stark Raving Mad has been issued in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and all in all is another solid presentation from Columbia TriStar. The image detail is quite good, and colors look pleasing, but refrain from coming across overly bright, and with much of the action set in a dimly lit dance club, that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. The highpoint are the black levels, which are excellent, and generate strong shadow delineation and depth. I noticed no major compression issues, nor was I aware of any source print defects.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Sure, the movie is a lot of mindless fun, but the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix found here certainly helps things quite a bit. Very active rear channels add substantially to the presentation, as does the steady, deep sub whumps of the ever present dance music. Dialogue is anchored nicely in the center, with the other channels offering well-balanced directional imaging.

A slightly less robust English 2.0 track is also included, as a French 5.1 mix.

Very nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Seann William Scott, Drew Daywalt, David Schneider
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Not much to froth over in the extras, other than a largely lightweight commentary track from actor Seann William Scott and writer/directors Drew Daywalt and David Schneider. Daywalt and Schneider do their best to shed some light on the hows and whys of the production, and talk a bit about their music video days, but Scott always bounds in with some wacky recollection that then veers the discussion into far more informal grounds. If you've always yearned to learn about Lou Diamond Phillips playing grab ass on the set, then you might want to give this a listen.

Behind the Scenes (08m:14s) is the typical EPK we've all seen a million times before, with talking head comments from the cast, intercut with footage from the finished product. There are storyboards for four scenes (Nightclub, Women's Restroom, Storage Room, Nightclub Dancefloor), along with a theatrical trailer.

The disc is cut into 24 chapters, and features optional subtitles (English, French, Spanish).

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Who would have thunk it? That is, that a straight-to-video (ahem, DVD) heist flick starring American Pie's Stifler could be so good.

This one is fast, funny, and truly caught me off guard, and it is capped by a great over-the-top turn by Lou Diamond Phillips as a nasty-tempered, white-haired crime lord.



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