Plot: What’s it about?
We’ve all heard stories about people selling their souls to the devil right? Whether they wanted a new car, a new wife, or perhaps even a new life, they simply signed on the dotted line and their wishes were granted. But how does this all happen? Does the devil himself approach these folks and make his offers? As it turns out, he uses an agent named Jerry (Kevin Pollak) and while this job seems easy, with hellfire burning your bottom, it’s never an easy task. In fact, the man downstairs is displeased with Jerry’s recent work and as such, plans on firing him unless he can deliver the goods soon. His sights are set on Henry Spooner (Michael Goorjian), a smart high school kid who wants to date the most beautiful girl in school, but he doesn’t even know he exists. His friend always tells him to be himself and go after what he wants, but he is concerned about rejection and never does. But now with Jerry flashing the potential to be the perfect guy for this hot lady, can Henry resist the temptation and win her the old fashioned way?
I’d heard of this film, but never read much in terms of reviews and I had also not had luck in finding an edition to rent. So it just sort of slipped from my memory, until MGM issued this little movie on our beloved format. The disc itself is somewhat of a letdown, with full frame video and no extras, but the film turns out to be well worth the price of a rental. This movie was made in 1999, but in most respects it seems like a throwback to the ’80s teen comedies. I don’t mean that as in this is a clone either, this film manages to capture some of the mood and magic of that era’s teen flicks. It deal with serious subject matter such as selling your soul & being yourself, but in the end this is a rather light picture that delivers a message we should all look into. There is little in terms of sex, violence, and profanity and as such, I think this one should be appropriate for preteens and beyond. The disc should have been much better, but the movie is what counts and this one is worth the price of admission.
I wouldn’t have imagined Kevin Pollak in this role, but he turns in a real winner of a performance in the end. He has to don various costumes and disguises, some which are worse than others, but he always seems in the zone and comes through when it counts. I’ve always found Pollak to be a gifted performer in all genres, but I was surprised at how well he worked with this character and material. This is a rather low profile flick also and as such, Pollak could have sleepwalked through his part, but instead he turns in a humorous and memorable performance. His skills in voices & impersonations are put to good use also, which is an added bonus for fans of his work. Pollak can also be seen in such films as The Usual Suspects, Deterrence, The Whole Nine Yards, She’s All That, and End of Days. The cast here also includes Shiri Appleby (The Other Sister), Esteban Powell (Powder, Dazed and Confused), Michael Goorjian (Newsies, Hard Rain), Shay Astar (Ernest Scared Stupid), and Sheila Lussier (For Love Of The Game).
Video: How does it look?
Deal Of A Lifetime is presented in a full frame transfer. I am unsure of the original aspect ratio, but this seems to be an open matte version and while that isn’t as good as widescreen, it is better than pan & scan. I saw some grain in more than a few sequences, but it isn’t extreme and I was never distracted by it in the least. The colors seem in order & error free, as hues look bold & vivid and flesh tones appear natural & warm also. I found no problems in the contrast either, as black levels are well balanced and no detail is lost in the shadows. I wish this was anamorphic widescreen of course, but this is a decent transfer given what it is.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc sports a 5.1 surround sound option, but this sounds more like a stereo surround track to me. I detected little in terms of surround use, but this manner of film doesn’t require much, so no real complaints. I will report that the music comes through in fine form, but the rest of the audio seems rooted in the front channels, which is how I think this mix should be. The dialogue is smooth as silk, with no volume or clarity issues in the least. This was a pleasant overall experience, even if not that memorable in the end. This disc also houses Spanish & French subtitles, should you need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.