Kicking and Screaming: Criterion Collection

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The end of school is supposed to be a fresh start, a time when young people move into true adulthood and begin their own lives. The experiences of college help strengthen their minds and social adjustments, so that when the real world is in front of them, they can face this bold new challenge. But not everyone makes the transition as smoothly as they should, which leaves them in a purgatory of sorts. The options for these graduates are limited, either become career students or take jobs with minimal responsibilities unrelated to their degree. After all, the alternative is the real world and for these people, the world is a brutal and unjust place, not somewhere they’re prepared to enter. A group of four friends recently graduated from a small college and now, none of them are willing to proceed with their plans. Even those who did have ideas of what do found themselves outside those plans, due to either their own fears or the interference of others. So now they spend their time doing what they did in college, which only deepens the rut that surrounds them. Will any of the friends be able to break free and face the fear of the real world?

An odd choice for The Criterion Collection? The studio rarely deals with films from the 1990s, but then again, they did release Armageddon, right? Kicking and Screaming a much more typical selection that Armageddon, as it is fueled by words, as opposed to special effects. And more to the point, it is from that special time period, the mid 90s, when indie cinema became a powerhouse. This was the time when indie marvels came from nowhere and turned into powerful directors, when sharp dialogue was popular again. This film has that sharp dialogue, but is more subtle and specific, though there is still the frequent name dropping of various pop culture elements. The dialogue here is sharp because it feels real, delivered by realistic characters who could fit into the real world. These folks have limits, flaws, and stupidity, in addition to better qualities, smart people who show just how stupid a smart person can be. Not the kind of characters we like per se, but ones we can sometimes relate to understand, or just loathe, all the same. Kicking and Screaming is a good movie, not a great one, but a good one that is recommended. I find the dialogue alone to be reason enough to revisit the film, so for fans, this is a purchase, not a rental.

Video: How does it look?

Kicking and Screaming is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a restored, high definition digital transfer and as it should, the image looks terrific here. The print has been cleaned up, so a lot of debris and marks have removed, leaving us a clean source. The colors look bold and rich, but never err, while flesh tones are natural all at times as well. Even the contrast here is razor sharp and flawless, which helps preserve the film’s natural visual design. This is a more recent film than Criterion usually deals with, but as always, they’ve delivered a top notch presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

This movie is all about the dialogue, so I didn’t expect much from the included Dolby Digital 5.1 surround option. As I said, this movie won’t be remembered for its sound design, but the movie sounds as good as possible. The film has a natural, smaller scope sound that works well, but the surrounds don’t get much action. At times you’ll notice the rear channels, but not that often in this case. Even so, the sound has a rich, natural presence that more than covers all of the bases here. I couldn’t be more pleased, as even films with low key soundtracks deserve to be given the deluxe treatment. This disc also includes optional English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

You’ll find a wealth of cast and crew interviews, created for this release, as well as some rare deleted scenes, sure to delight fans. This disc also includes the Conrad and Butler Take a Vacation short film, interviews from 1995, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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