..

HOME ROOM

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Busy Philipps, Erika Christensen
Director: Paul F. Ryan
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Format & 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Features: See Review
Length: 131 Minutes
Release Date: October 14, 2003

“Well, the good news is that you didn’t kiss me back, so I guess that means you’re not gay…I think!”

Film ***

When my mom sent me off for my first day of school, I was terrified.  I didn’t know what to expect, who I would meet, or what school really was.  As I started junior high, I wasn’t terrified anymore…however, I did tremble for a while as I sat in my seat waiting for the new teacher to call my name and ask about summer vacation. High school was easy for me, because I was friends with the older crowd already, and they took me under their wing. 

The things I know about life and growing up were tossed out the window after watching Home Room, and realizing that today’s kids have an altogether different reason to be terrified when they show up for class.

Home Room stars Dawson’s Creek alum Busy Philipps, and Swimfan’s Erika Christensen as two high school teens who form a bond during the worst possible times in their lives.

Alicia was once a beautiful girl with good grades and a lot of potential.  Now she spends all of her time trying to fade away and be forgotten behind her dark makeup and safety pin earrings.  Nobody knows where she was for a year and a half, but she’s now left struggling and trying to graduate so she can put this chapter of her life behind her.

Deanna is a spoiled little rich girl, with perfect grades, a perfect smile, and a father who has no qualms about spending his money to buy her friends, cars, and a Cornell University education.

When tragedy strikes at school both girls are tossed together, one in need of comfort, the other in need of absolution for pain that’s been building inside for far too long.  It will take the inner strength of both to face what lies ahead, but together they will see it through.

As disturbingly close to reality as this movie is, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  The direction was A+ in my opinion.  From everything I’ve been able to read, this is Paul F. Ryan’s first big directing job.   He did wonderful work capturing the emotions and individual character turmoil, as well as putting the film together in a format that seemed to flow effortlessly. 

Ryan was also the screenwriter for this film, and you can definitely see how that helped him flow as the director as well.   He has a wonderful eye for detail, and I truly do hope to see more things shot with his style in the future. 

Busy Philipps portrayal of the character Alicia was good, but somewhat disjointed.  I can’t decide if it was because that’s just the type of person Alicia was, or the kind of actor Philipps is.  I haven’t had a lot of exposure to her as an actress so I will give the benefit of the doubt and say that it was the character.  

The first time I saw Erika Christensen act was in the movie Swimfan, and she blew me away with her ability to look sane and act psychotic at the same time.   Deanna appeared, to me at least, to be a tough role to flow into.   Again, this character is similar to her earlier role in that she’s in turmoil, and floats from extreme high to extreme low within seconds.   It’s her ability to mix those two emotions and make them work that shows she’s got what it takes as an actress.

So, after spending 133 minutes with this movie, what do you have at the end?  Well, if you want to get technical, a two hour and ten minute PSA about listening to teenagers, coping with loss, and dealing with trauma.   Not the biggest feel good movie of the year, but an interesting perspective on a scary, yet very real topic of modern day culture.

Don’t be late for class because missing Home Room will really set your DVD experiences back a grade or two!

Video **

Visually, there were no errors that I noticed with the transfer of this print to digital format.

The 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer was clean and vivid, with a minimal amount of softness around the edges of the print. 

The 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen left a little to be desired in my opinion but it was clean and vivid, without much visual loss due to resizing over all.

The colors were nice, and natural lighting was put to good use, however everything seemed to be a certain shade of monotone visually.   I think maybe a little more color could have been added at times to punctuate the outdoor scenes and give them more visual verve.

Audio ***

This DVD contained some really nice sounding audio throughout.  The Dolby Surround came across very crisp and clean without any low-end hiss or hum.  The dialogue and soundtrack were balanced against one another almost flawlessly with only a few drops in level here and there. The dropouts were few but noticeable to a certain degree.  I really have to give them credit though for allow real time background noise instead of music for the moments in the film that were supposed to be filled with tense silence.  It helps in with the reality factor quite a bit.

Features *

The extra features missed the bus with this DVD, however, getting to Home Room late is better than not getting there at all!

This disc contains both Anamorphic Widescreen and Standard Fullscreen versions of the film. 

A single featurette is included for your viewing pleasure, and is accompanied by movie trailers, and interactive menus. 

This DVD’s school ties allow you to choose English as your major language selection or Spanish for extra credit. 

Interactive menus, and scene selection bring to a close this DVD’s extra features.

Summary:

You don’t get a lot of extra features with this DVD, however I think you will be able to learn a lot about the human condition from it.   Nice visuals and great audio let you slip into your seat unnoticed until the end of Home Room.  Grab a copy and educate yourself today!