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Weathered Underground, The (DVD Review)

28 Feb, 2010 By: John Latchem

Prebook 3/2/10; Street 4/6/10
Box Office $0.01 million
$24.99 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Michael Ciriaco, Efren Ramirez, Brea Grant, Erin Cummings.

While the nature of DVD facilitates the idea of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of storyline, there is something to be said of the traditional linear narrative that allows the voice of the filmmakers to come through. With an active audience, the plot can easily find itself runner-up to the novelty of the gimmick.

The Weathered Underground, from writer-director David N. Donihue, finds a nice compromise between the two extremes. The film focuses on Eric Simmons (Michael Ciriaco), a wannabe musician with a part-time job delivering pizzas. Eric is dealing with a recent breakup with Liz (Brea Grant of “Heroes”), whom he still considers his best friend.

The story kicks off with a rather mundane choice. Should Eric go to work that night or ditch his dead-end job to hang out with his friends at a hot nightclub? Eric encounters a new choice-point every few minutes, resulting in a series of 10- to 15-minute mini-movies detailing all of Eric’s possible adventures, with more than 30 different endings.

At each choice-point, viewers can go back to see the path they didn’t choose. Sometimes the storylines converge; other selections send the story in unexpected directions and vastly different genres, from romantic comedy to Guy Ritchie-style shoot-em-up.

Donihue cleverly uses the format to let Eric pontificate on the nature of free will — at one point he actually discovers his life is being controlled by the people watching the DVD. Such tongue-in-cheek humor is all well and good. The main problem with The Weathered Underground is that Donihue has decided to distort the frame with a murky graphical overlay.

The technique is not only distracting but unnecessary, as the characters and dialogue are interesting enough to support the material had Donihue played it straight.   

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