Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Standing Up Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Standing Up tells the story of an 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl who are ostracized by their peers at summer camp and soon find themselves victims of a vicious prank. But rather than returning to camp to face humiliation, they run away.  Their three-day journey brings new experiences and despite a traumatic encounter, they help each other overcome adversity, forming a unique bond that helps them lead to a path of self-discovery.  The film stars Radha Mitchell (Olympus Has Fallen, Silent Hill, Man On Fire), Val Kilmer, Chandler Canterbury (The Host, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Annalise Basso (Bedtime Stories).

Film (3 out of 5 stars)

It’s 1984 and eleven year old Howie (Chandler Canterbury) is trying to fit in at camp. A late night canoe trip to a nearby island quickly reveals that he’s not fitting in as he had hoped. The other boys have decided to strip him naked and leave him there. Cold, naked, and afraid Howie finds a nearby cabin and begs for entry. Twelve year old Grace (Annalise Basso) sits inside, crying – having just faced the same cruel joke at the hands of the popular girls at camp.

Canoes return and the children are afraid that the humiliation will continue so they make the quick decision to flee. Grace cannot swim so she hangs on to a log as Howie swims for both of them. The current takes them off course and they wake up in an unfamiliar place. Unwilling to return to camp, they break into a nearby cabin where they find clothing and food. The children decide to keep track of everything they owe, planning to replace anything they have taken and later explain why they needed it. With every moment they are on the run, the bravery of the pair increases. They borrow money, then clothes and eventually squat in a motel room. While Howie is clearly the idea man, Grace grows stronger and is confident enough to take some of the initiative.

Howie states that his parents are in Greece, but all along Grace plans to return to her mother (Radha Mitchell). Grace promises that her mother will take Howie with them and it seems as though Howie would rather live off the land and continue on the run with Grace.  Both Chandler Cantebury and Annalise Basso are perfect for their roles. I’m sad to say Val Kilmer’s role is brief and his name really shouldn’t be on the cover. Val’s role is basically a cameo. He plays a greasy, slightly overweight sheriff’s deputy who tries to help the kids but ends up scaring them off. He is convincing for sure, but has little screen time.

I did not read the book that this movie was based on. The Blu- ray cover says “Together they took a stand against bullying” but I didn't really appreciate the bullying angle. When I think of this movie as a film about two young outcasts, finding a true friend I really like the story. When I think of it as a film about bullying, as a parent, I don’t like the message. The two children run away from the bullies and literally run away from camp. They are on their own for days which leads to many dangerous situations. If I were going to show this film to my son, I would want the message to be different and have the children to actually stand up to the bullies and involve the camp counselors and adults they can trust.

Video (3 out of 5 stars)

Standing Up is presented on Blu- ray and DVD in wide-screen format. The film has a warm hue to it that makes it seem as though the entire film is a memory. Skin tones are accurate – pristine and innocent on the children, worn and tough on Val Kilmer’s character. Detail is sufficient to see that Val Kilmer’s character has less than clean teeth and you can almost reach out and feel the grease in his hair.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars)

Standing Up is presented on Blu- ray in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and on DVD in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue is clear and consistent throughout the film. The audio is sufficient but certainly not spectacular. Most of the film contains the children on the run and the environmental sounds help with the film’s authenticity.

Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Aside from a trailer, the only special feature on the Blu- ray is a behind the scenes featurette. It’s lengthier than I expected and Director D.J. Caruso talks a lot about doing the book justice and bringing characters from the written world to life. The two young actors Chandler Cantebury and Annalise Basso discuss getting to know each other and she reveals in one behind the scenes moment that she is about to have her first kiss ever, in front of a camera.

Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)

If I hadn't thought of this as a film about bullying I certainly would have enjoyed more. If Val Kilmer had a larger part, I would have been happier as well. It is a nice family film, but you might want to have a discussion with your children when it's over so they know what not to do if they are bullied.

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