Cash Crop

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Oxford is a small farming town and as time has passed, the small farms have come under financial burdens and as such, the farmers find themselves in tough positions. The profits have remained the same for years, but the costs have risen and since the small farmers don’t have the volume to overcome the costs, they quickly become buried in debt. Even when they scrimp and save to keep their homes and lives, they can barely keep their heads above water and often times, the people have to sell their land. But some of these farmers are so determined to keep their lives intact, they have taken on a new crop to raise, one with large profits and a constant demand. The new crop of choice is marijuana and while the risk is immense, the payoff is even larger and as the cash rolls in, these farmers get closer and closer to keeping their land and homes. But when the local sheriff and a DEA agent soon begin to ask questions and things get pretty complicated, the whole scheme rockets out of control.

It was a lengthy wait for this film to be released, but Cash Crop has now arrived and of course, I took the time to check it out. I had decent hopes despite a lot of bad reviews, but in the end, I had to agree with some of Cash Crop’s critics. It starts out very slow and builds up a base, but then it seems to be unsure about it wants to be, a drama or a comedy. I think the dramatic sequences work better, though I don’t know if the entire film would have sustained as well, in that form. The main problem with the comedic portions is the cast, which includes such hacks as James Van Der Beek and Will Horneff. I never expected even average performances from these guys, but this was pathetic and in the end, I think the lack of talent sank this picture. You will find some better turns elsewhere in the film, but the younger cast members really stink up the movie, to be sure. I wanted to like this movie, but it turns out to be average at best, often below standard. Artisan has given the film a very solid treatment however, so if you’re at all interested in Cash Crop, there’s no reason not to give this disc a spin, though a rental is the best option.

If you like to watch poor performances, you’ll find a lot to like with Cash Crop, especially the work of James Van Der Beek. As usual, he is unable to deliver even standard lines in believable form, but his turn here is even worse than normal. As if his miserable work before this wasn’t enough, Van Der Beek gives his worst effort to date, in perhaps the poorest rendition of a stoner ever filmed. I am at a loss as to why he is allowed to keep starring in films, as his talent is limited and his draw is weak at best, as evidenced by his films’ poor box office returns. If you’re a glutton for punishment, check out Van Der Beek in such films as Angus, Texas Rangers, Varsity Blues, and of course, Tv’s Dawson’s Creek. The cast also includes Jeffrey DeMunn (The Green Mile, Black Cat Run), Mary McCormack (Deep Impact, Mystery Alaska), John Slattery (Traffic, Where’s Marlowe?), and Paula Garces (Dangerous Minds, Clockstoppers).

Video: How does it look?

Cash Crop is presented in a full frame transfer, which seems to be an open matte edition. I say this because the included trailer is widescreen and within that, the framing seems much more natural. So I am let down that an anamorphic widescreen version wasn’t included, but as it stands, this image is not too bad. The contrast looks good most of the time, though some of the darker scenes are less impressive, but still solid. The colors are bright and bold, with no errors to report and flesh tones look natural and consistent. The print used looks clean enough, but I did see some slight compression flaws here and there. This should have been a more refined, anamorphic widescreen transfer, but even so, this is a more than decent visual treatment.

Audio: How does it sound?

This release utilizes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but the experience is much less active than expected. The surrounds are used mostly for the musical soundtrack, with only a few other instances of activity to report. I don’t think this is a bad thing in this case however, as the film is very much driven by dialogue and as such, no real need for surround presence is involved. The dialogue is the heart of the mix and it sounds terrific, always crisp and never hard to understand. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc has a nice selection of extras, including an audio commentary track with director Stuart Burkin and actor John Slattery. This isn’t the best session I’ve heard, but the two provide some interesting comments, especially Burkin’s discussion of the writing process. I would have liked to have heard more about the film’s long delayed release, but that isn’t talked about much here, which is a slight disappointment. You can also view a selection of deleted scenes, which include optional commentary also, which adds a lot to the value of the excised scenes. This disc also includes some talent files, a selection of still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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