Answer Man, The (2009) 
Blu-ray Romantic Comedy
Written by Noah Fleming   
Friday, 06 November 2009

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“The Answer Man” is an official pick of the 2009 Sundance Festival.  For an independent film it is quite good.  However, it is filled out with a weak subplot and an annoying redundancy of emotions and actions.

The film has great cast.  Unfortunately, it seems that the script tries the patience of the actors.  Jeff Daniels is Arlen Faber, the writer of “Me and God,” a book that changed spirituality and owns 10 percent of the God market.  No one knows who Arlen is.  He is a hermit that is tired of people coming to him for all the answers.  Apparently, the questions and answers in his book came from a direct conversation with God.

Lauren Graham, formerly of the “Gilmore Girls,” stars as Elizabeth, a single mom that is trying to run a chiropractor shop.  By chance, Arlen throws his back out and manages to crawl his way to her clinic.  In just a few minutes she is able to cure his back problems.  It doesn’t take more a couple meetings for the couple to start “dating.”  Unfortunately, Arlen is sweet to Elizabeth but a jerk to everyone else.

The subplot revolves around Kris a used bookstore owner who is recovering from alcoholism and trying to save his bookstore.  He is distraught over his father’s alcoholism and AA meetings.  He eventually finds out where Arlen lives and makes a deal with him to exchange books for answers.  This plot doesn’t really flow into the overall film, but if it wasn’t there the film could be done in 20 minutes.

Olivia Thirlby of “Juno” and Kat Dennings of “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” also star in this film.

You wouldn’t expect this film to get the high-definition treatment, but sure enough Magnolia Entertainment has released it on Blu-ray.  It comes with a 1080p encode with a VC-1 and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  The best part of the transfer is the color saturation.  Colors are vibrant and lush.  Edges are inconsistent.  They can be sharp and clean, while at other times the edges are way too soft.  Fleshtones are accurate.  Facial textures get a bit waxy in low-light situations.  Shadow delineation is fairly revealing.  Contrast levels are also decent.  Brightness levels do fluctuate.  Film grain is also inconsistent.  The source print has several instances of dust and dirt, but it is only truly noticeable on a couple of occasions.  While this is not a terrific Blu-ray transfer, I have to imagine that the budget did not although for a lot of post-production and production treatment.

The audio transfer is probably as accurate to the original source as we are going to get.  The audio is limited by the sound design of a typical independent romantic comedy.  The mix is largely front heavy.  There are absolutely zero discreet sounds in the rear channels.  Over the course of the film the music score is bled into the rear channels providing some depth, but very little overall.  The dynamics are not expansive as this is primarily dialogue driven.  Dialogue is clear and anchored in the center.  The LFE channel is absent in every scene.  In the end this is a very typical independent audio track that doesn’t benefit much from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

Interestingly, the Blu-ray comes with a supplemental package.  There is an audio commentary writer and director John Hindman, producer Kevin Messick and actress Lauren Graham.  This track is fairly reserved, but it offers some good information for fans of the film.  “Characters of ‘The Answer Man’” contains interviews with the cast members.  “’The Answer Man:’ From Concept to Creation” examines the filmmakers’ steps in creating the film.  Lastly, “HDNet: A Look at ‘The Answer Man’” is a standard promotional video.  There are also several trailers that open the disc.

The company did a great job of promoting the movie.  I was very keen on seeing it.  However, when all is said and done this is film is nothing more than an independent film that received a higher budget than most.  The video and audio transfer are more than adequate but this will not be used as showcase material.
Studio Magnolia Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating R
Starring Lauren Graham, Jeff Daniels, Kat Dennings, Olivia Thirlby, Lou Taylor Pucci
Director John Hindman
Film Release Year 2009
Release Year 2009
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 1080p (supplements) • 480i (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Running Time 1 hr. 37 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • Spanish
Special Features Director, Producer, Actress Audio Commentary; “Characters of ‘The Answer Man’”; “’The Answer Man:’ From Concept to Creation”; “HDNet: A Look at ‘The Answer Man’”; Trailers
Forum Link
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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