Live Free or Die
R1 - America - ThinkFilm
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (27th August 2007).
The Film

For an indie comedy, this movie is pretty funny. I don't mean to be facetious, but sometimes indie comedies try very hard to be funny only to fail miserably in self-importance and faux-witty dialogue. This movie has none of that. It's simple and funny, with quirky, yet believable, characters going through their own quirky lives.

The movie follows petty crook John Rudgate (Aaron Stanford) as he tries to make his way to the top, which, given his current location of New Hampshire, seems to be a little bit on the difficult side. He manages to get himself into more trouble than he wanted, which is fine by him. He always manages to bounce back and find a way to exploit the situation for himself.

Aaron Stanford brings out this character perfectly. 'Rugged' Rudgate is an interesting guy. How menacing can you be when nobody knows you're doing bad things and everybody laughs at you? His ambitions are high and Mr. Stanford's performance is a spot-on mix of desperation and geeky cluelessness. Mention also has to go to Paul Schneider, who's slow-witted lackey, Legrand, is a perfect complement to Mr. Stanford's Rugged. The team works great together.

Directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin (who both worked on the famous Soup Nazi episode of 'Seinfeld') do a nice job with their theatrical debut. They give the perfect mix of comedy, drama and quirkiness. The dialogue is nothing special but the performances make everything work together. The directors are going to be a team to watch.

The movie is a joy from start to finish. Though on first viewing it may not seem all that great, the movie stays with you and gets better after a while. This is how I felt and I realised how original and intelligent it was. Everything gels together and ends up being a lot of fun. It's a smart movie that doesn't try to overstep its bounds, which is why I like it so much.

Video

1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. For the most part, the picture is a bit soft, but that's probably due to the source. The detail isn't as great as it could be, but that's not so bad because it keeps the indie feel of the movie. Other than that, the print is free of any kind of blemish, such as specks and scratches. Likewise, the transfer is very clean and doesn't have much (or any, for that matter) noise, edge enhancement and other compression problems. The colours are a bit dull, but that may also be due to the source. Overall, it's a good transfer worthy of the film.

Audio

You've got an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo tracks to choose from. I chose the 5.1 track and I was satisfied, though I doubt there's much difference between it and the stereo track. The movie is not dynamic and is mostly dialogue. You hear it clearly, that's all that's important. The rear speakers, for the most part, are forgotten and everything is in the centre speaker. That's okay, because there's really nothing else to hear. The occasional crash and other effects are clear and crisp, and they and the score are at very good levels. It's a nice track for the movie.
English (hard of hearing) and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

For such a small movie, ThinkFilm filled this up with some nice extras. First up is a commentary track by writers/directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Rubin, and actors Aaron Stanford, and Paul Schneider. It's a very entertaining yak track. The shoot seemed like a lot of fun, with problems with various things like both vans they used, cameras and flubbed lines. They talk about the changes they made or the way they shot certain scenes to accommodate for, for example, weather or budget. They give out a lot of behind the scenes stuff, including one hilarious line that didn't make it into the movie. The quartet talk for the whole running time and they are always interesting. It's one of the better commentaries I've heard in a while.

After that, you can watch the Alternative Ending (4:31). It takes place 5 years after the ending of the movie. I prefer the one in the movie. This one is a bit too typical for my taste. The one in the movie just feels more appropriate for the tone the directors went for.

The Making of 'Live Free or Die' (6:22) is a bit better than your typical EPK. It shows you the trouble they had shooting some things, while showing you who's in the movie. It seemed like a fun shoot and everybody seemed to have a lot of fun despite the problems.

The Blooper Reel (3:36) is next and it's unfortunately not too funny. There are a bunch of flubbed lines, but I'm sure this was a lot more fun on set than it is here. A couple of Deleted Scenes follow. 'Rugged's Fantasy' (1:43) and 'Real Sister' (0:55) aren't really necessary and are easily left on the cutting room floor without altering anything in the movie.

To finish things off, there are a bunch of trailers. The Theatrical Trailer (1:53) sets the perfect tone and you won't be disappointed if you want to see the movie after watching it. The Trailer Gallery has pretty good trailers for 'The Dog Problem' (2:34), 'A New Wave' (2:03), 'The House of Usher' (1:44), 'Life of the Party' (2:05), and the red-band trailer for 'Farce of the Penguins' (2:16). These are also the start-up trailers.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: B+ Overall: B

 


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