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Straight A's Blu-ray Review - -
Straight A's
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
Straight A's Blu-ray Review Sure, Straight A’s has some pretty glaring flaws - The production seems rushed, there are noticeable wardrobe inconsistencies and the whole affair just seems to lack polish and attention.

Feature 6.0
Video 9.0
Audio 8.0
Special Features   0.0
Total 6.0
Distributor: Roadshow
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 88 mins
Reviewer: Sean Warhust
: MA15+


Straight A's

Despite boasting a fairly high profile cast, Straight A’s kind of slipped under the radar as a direct-to-video release. Usually this is an indication of inferior quality, but on occasion a rare gem slips through (“Cabin in the Woods”, for example, was straight to video on these shores). Has Straight A’s mastered the curve or has it been relegated to academic probation?

Aside from lending itself to that clumsy analogy above, and an offhand comment by Ryan Phillippe’s character, the title has little to do with the film. Indeed, it seems like the marketing department had absolutely no idea how to sell this picture, presenting it instead as a goofy Rom-Com about two brothers who *gasp* love the same girl! Herpity-Derpity-Doo!

In reality the film is a dramatic character study comprised of multiple self-contained vignettes that only coalesce for the final fifteen minutes; Luke Wilson’s character is absent throughout most of the main storyline, only interacting with the other leads via phone calls whilst experiencing his own internal crisis whilst away on a business trip. This multi story structure would be great, if it was the film’s intention – Unfortunately Straight A’s tries to marry all of these intersecting plot threads together into one plodding mess of a movie.

The main crux of the story sees Scott (Phillippe) returning to his home town after disappearing for ten years following a family falling out. Slightly eccentric and having spent his last few years in and out of rehab facilities, Scott shows up on the doorstep of his former flame Katherine (Anna Paquin), who, awkwardly, is now married to his brother William (Wilson). Apparently once Scott had run out of on her, an emotionally distraught Katherine had turned to William for support, eventually falling in love and building a household together.

Despite the conservative facade the family puts on, major cracks are evident, especially the current state of Katherine and William’s marriage. The strain is also manifesting itself through the eccentric behaviour of their children; 10 year old Charles insists on wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase to school, for example, adopting the affectations of a young aristocrat. 

Once the hard partying Scott suddenly drops back into their lives, old emotions are stirred up and relationships are forged as the children spend time with this charismatic goofball who seems to be the antithesis of the structured lifestyle they’re used to. Meanwhile other minor plotlines involve Scott trying to reconnect with his estranged father, who’s now suffering Alzheimers, and William being confronted with fidelity issues of his own. 

Oh, and the reason Scott has decided to return after all these years? His dead mother appeared in a vision and told him to, so naturally off he went, taking only his horse, pills and a big old bag of weed.

Despite good performances and competent direction, the film unfortunately doesn’t quite achieve its goal. The storyline, while engaging enough, is muddled and lacks cohesion and the editing is amateurish, particularly the contrived ending scenes. The script lacks focus and a tangible message; aspiring to deliver a stirring spiritual message, the poor writing instead makes it seem trite and clichéd.

That’s not to say that the film is entirely without merit – Indeed, there are quite a few scenes that are enjoyable as tangential offshoots but don’t work within the context of the film. What we’re left with is a sequence of events that don’t serve any real purpose. The abrupt ending seems like a bit of a cop out and isn’t consistent in tone to the rest of the film, but the journey to that point is interesting enough, particularly due to Scott’s interactions with young Charles and Phillippe’s naturalistic performance.

Audio/ Visual

Straight A’s has a nice, clean transfer that highlights the slight white bloom of the image. Colours are vivid and detail is as fine as expected.

Audio is handled by the reliable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Dialogue is delivered clearly and sound levels are consistent throughout, with no crossing over of channels. Whilst nothing earth shattering, this transfer is more than capable of presenting a smaller film such a Straight A’s in as high a quality as possible.

Special Features

Straight A’s is a bare bones release with nary a special feature to be found.

Final Thought

Sure, Straight A’s has some pretty glaring flaws - The production seems rushed, there are noticeable wardrobe inconsistencies and the whole affair just seems to lack polish and attention. With that being said, the dependable performances of the core cast, plus that of young Charles, serve to elevate the film above the level of mediocrity. It strives for a quirky sensibility (immediately evident even from the font used for the opening titles) and falls short but the parts of the film that do work display a dynamic and rhythm that show the potential Straight A’s could have had if it had only cultivated those sensibilities rather than opting for the easy way out.


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