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20th Century Fox presents
Blue State (2007)

"This feels like a different country. You can feel the depression in the air."
- John Logue (Breckin Meyer)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 11, 2008

Stars: Anna Paquin, Breckin Meyer
Other Stars: Adriana O'Neil, Richard Blackburn, Joyce Krenz, Grace Lynn Kung, Nick Ouellette
Director: Marshall Lewy

MPAA Rating: R for (language)
Run Time: 01h:32m:35s
Release Date: February 12, 2008
UPC: 883904100782
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B-B+ C+

DVD Review

When George W. Bush was re-elected back in 2004, there were a number of people who claimed they were so upset that they going to move to Canada as a form of protest. In Marshall Lewy's anti-Bush romantic comedy Blue State, John Logue (Breckin Meyer) is one of those guys, a chatty Kerry-supporting political blogger from San Francisco who is forced to follow through with his proclamation after being pressured by his friends after Bush takes the election.

To further confuse the matter, John is contacted by a fringe group in Canada who urge him to make the move, though their intentions are not quite as ideal as they sound. He finds a travel companion to share the expenses—the mysterious Chloe (Anna Paquin)—and what follows is Lewy's somewhat irregular amalgam of a romantic comedy/road picture/political diatribe.

It's a weird mixture, and with Meyer's John spouting a constant stream of anti-Bush sentiment, this isn't likely a film that will warm the cockles of the Republican faithful. Lewy eventually tilts the narrative back to the middle a bit as the film progresses, but the crux centers on very vocal complaints about the Bush administration. Yet the endless expressing of political ideologies by John (even his friends get a little tired of his rants) is more or less window dressing for the development of his relationship with Chloe. There are some sweet comic moments between the two, and Lewy gives his two main characters the opportunity to go back-and-forth with neat blocks of dialogue.

And for all the Republican bashing, Lewy adds another layer when the story eventually shifts to Winnipeg. Much like Bush supporters who won't warm to the underlying message of Blue State, I'll wager Canadians won't appreciate the way they're portrayed any better; it's fairly funny stuff, but perhaps a little over-the-top. I know the purpose of the Canadians ripping on America serves a key function in Lewy's story, but this middle section seems to rely on the use of too many broad caricatures in an attempt to make John and Chloe look even more out of place. What's good is that Meyer and Paquin get to advance (or destroy) their relationship a little further here, and Paquin's character really takes off during this segment.

Strip away all of the political elements, and Lewy is left with a relatably awkward relationship story, a romantic comedy with two main characters who make smalltalk and bicker and seem like they're always either on the verge of kissing or fighting. A couple of subplots meant to apparently give more dramatic substance to the romantic leads don't translate as well as they may have on paper, but the best scenes in Blue State unfold casually, with easy waves of natural-sounding dialogue. I genuinely like both of Lewy's leads, and when they are onscreen together and simply talking to one another the film has a very honest texture.

A pair of nice performances from Meyer and Paquin make Blue State well worth a rental.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Fox shows quite a bit of grain throughout. Colors are not overly bright, and edge details are noticeably soft. Overall quality isn't what I'd call great, but it's presentable enough.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: A pair of audio choices, available in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 surround. The 5.1 option shows itself to be a largely a frontcentric mix, with clean voice quality and a moderate sense of movement across the front three channels, primarily from the soundtrack elements. Rear channels are used sparingly, but provide some very effective discrete spatial cues (dogs barking, distant voices) to help widen the soundstage.

Simple, but nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
0 Other Trailer(s) featuring Wedding Daze, Juno, Darjeeling Limited, Music Within, Lars And The Real Girl, Death At A Funeral
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Marshall Lewy
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Aside from trailers, the only extra is a commentary from writer/director Marshall Lewy. It's not a terribly lively track (a few dead spots here and there), with Lewy covering the usual bases (casting, rewrites, locales), but the level of the content just isn't all the revealing. He does lob out a great quote, comparing maintaining a consistent tone to "a slippery pig at a barbecue roast", but anytime I hear a director discussing the rigors of shooting of a low-budget film I usually learn something intriguing about the process.

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, with optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

I enjoyed this under-the-radar political/romantic comedy quite a bit, and I'll go out on a limb and suggest you add it to your rental queue. Breckin Meyer and Anna Paquin play very well off of each other, making the bumps in their love/hate relationship kind of fun to watch.

Recommended.

 


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