Sunday, September 25, 2011

American Loser DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The previews before American Loser are mostly National Lampoon's movies.  I am not a fan of National Lampoon movies that don't star Chevy Chase.  I've been told by those that love these types of movies that I just have no sense of humor.  I think I can definitely appreciate funny.  It’s stupid/funny that I have a hard time seeing as anything but stupid.  Before American Loser starts I'm already thinking I have made a mistake agreeing to review this film.

Film (1/2 out of 5 stars)
American Loser stars Seann William Scott as Jeff Nichols, the loser the film centers around.  Jeff is a recovering alcoholic with attention problems, a mild case of tourettes, balance problems, dyslexia and a slew of other issues he shares with various alcoholics anonymous members at meetings.  Jeff mistakenly claims that he is good at substitute teaching but aspires to be a standup comedian.  He has serious mommy issues, including the fact that he still calls her mommy.  He passes out when he sees new balance shoes, because his balance problem is not actually related to balance, but the word "balance."

Gretchen Mol is Lynn, a beautiful woman with a sugar daddy of her own, who makes Jeff want to be a better man.  Gretchen doesn't have as many problems as Jeff, but she certainly has issues of her own.  Jeff Garlin rounds out the cast as Lenny, an alcoholic that Jeff is mentoring - his only real friend.  Gretchen overlooks a lot of things, but finally dumps Jeff when a gift she received is repossessed.

Many of the people listening to Jeff's stories say that listening to his problems makes them feel better about themselves.  I think it’s safe to say that most of the addicts, with all of their issues, are better off than Jeff.  Jeff sinks boats, has issues with a stuffed puma, and blames everything on his learning disabilities.  Burning his parents house down is only one of Jeff's low points.

American Loser, with a running time of 94 minutes, seemed to me to take a lifetime to finish.  If I wasn't reviewing the movie, I would have turned it off already.  I keep asking myself during the whole movie "what is the point?".  The filmmakers have established the fact that Jeff is the biggest loser on the planet so why continue the endless examples of why that's case?  He is the ultimate loser, and sadly this is based on a true story. What I can't figure out is why I am expected to care.  It is painful to watch Jeff run into old boarding school friends on the street and ask if they have a few bucks to spare.  All in all, this is a very disappointing movie which is too bad because Seann William Scott can be very funny given the right material and director.

Video (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The video quality adds insult to injury.  American Loser is not in high definition, it's only DVD, and it has a lot of images that are so bad it surprised me.  I can't remember seeing a picture with so much visual noise.  In one specific low light bedroom scene it can almost be described as static.  There are issues with clarity, skin tones, and contrast.  The only good thing I can say is that it's presented in a 16x9 widescreen 1.78:1 ratio.

Audio (2 out of 5 stars)
The audio fairs slightly better than the video.  The dialogue is at an even level overall but I found the sound track annoying at best.

Special Features (1 out of 5 stars)
When you hate a movie, it’s painful to watch the special features.  In this case, I'm hoping that there is something that explains what the actors saw in this project that made them sign on.  Again, I'm disappointed and find no answers in the following features:

  • Photo Gallery - A collection of still shots from the movie.  A pretty poor excuse for a special feature if you ask me.
  • Inside the Making of American Loser - A featurette with interviews with actors, filmmakers and the real Jeff Nichols. 

Final Thoughts (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Clearly I don't get this movie.  I'm missing any amount of charm or comedy at all in this movie.  It's a film about a guy who was born with all the opportunities anyone could ask for, screws up and is given chance after ridiculous chance to redeem himself.  When he doesn't he just lucks into a somewhat decent life.  In the special features they talk a lot about learning disabilities, and all the main elements are real, but I just don't care.  The movie wasn't funny.  It was just sad.  I hated it so much I had to know what other people think and I googled it.  I saw some people say that "if you like Seann William Scott you will like this movie."  That anyone enjoyed this astounds me.  My husband claims that Troll 2 is the worst movie ever made and I believe that he's wrong, since it's clearly American Loser.  My mother taught me that if I can't say anything nice I shouldn't say anything at here's the one nice thing I have to say...Gretchen Mol isn't a bad singer.

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