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DVD Review: Burn After Reading (2008)

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Burn After ReadingOf all the films to be released in 2008, Burn After Reading is one of the more divisive of the group. Some people loved the movie, some hated it, and a few, like me, were somewhere in the middle. It’s definitely a picture of extremes, as the humor and rather aimless story went right over some people’s heads, while others recognized it as pretty standard Coen Brothers comedy. Funny enough, while sitting in the theater, you could actually identify the sections of the theater who got it: while I was laughing, two-thirds of the theater was silent. Didn’t they know what they had gotten themselves into?

In their defense, Burn After Reading is a bit aimless and not always spot on in the humor department; there are stretches where the movie isn’t that funny, and others where it is. The thing is: this is how the Coen Brothers do comedy. They don’t write a film to have every line of dialogure be hilarious; they are very up-and-down comedic writers, and I have to imagine it’s intentional. If you can’t handle that, don’t watch the movie.

Of course, for those of you who didn’t see Burn After Reading in theaters, the movie comes to DVD this Sunday, December 21st. Unfortunately, the bonus features suck. There are only three, none of which are particularly good. Finding the Burn is called the “making-of Burn After Reading,” but it has to be one of the shortest making-of featurettes I’ve seen in a long time. In other words: there ain’t much here.

DC Insiders Run Amuck looks at each individual character and their nuances, et cetera. This featurette talks about Brad Pitt’s hairstyle, the efforts needed to make George Clooney (and Pitt) look like morons, and the reasons that the cast, including Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, took the roles. There are a few funny parts in here as the actors joke about their characters, but once again the featurette is short and not very valuable.

Lastly, we have Welcome Back, George, which interviews the Coen Brothers and George Clooney about his third movie with the directors. Basically, it talks about how they love to write stupid parts for him, and how Clooney just accepts that. The featurette is mildly funny, but once again way too short.

When it takes longer to write the DVD review than it does to watch the DVD bonus features, you know you have a lame DVD on your hands. And the Burn After Reading DVD is just that.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: DVD Releases, Movie Reviews
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