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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Frank

December 8th, 2014

Frank - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Frank is a film that is very much an art house film. It earned incredible reviews and earned a spot in the $10,000 club during its opening weekend. However, when it tried to expand, it went nowhere. Is it truly limited to art house aficionados? Or will a wider audience appreciate it on the home market?

The Movie

We first meet Jon, an aspiring songwriter, as he tries to find inspiration for his next song. Unfortunately for him, he appears to have a complete lack of talent for this profession. One day while he is waiting for his lunch, the radio in the deli is on and he hears an interview with a local band, Soronprfbs. Two members of the band, Clara and Lucas, get into a major fight on the air and later while Jon is eating his lunch, he sees a man trying to commit suicide in the sea. It's Lucas. While watching the police try and rescue Lucas, Don, the band's manager, mentions the fight and how this means they can't play tonight's gig, because they don't have a keyboardist. Jon absentmindedly mentions he plays keyboards and with that, he's hired to play that night.

The set goes... well? They are an experimental band, which means the music sounds like crap. Additionally, their lead singer, Frank, wears a paper-mâché head. While at first things seem good, Clara's theremin breaks, she yells at the other bandmates and storms off. Despite this setback, Jon is eventually invited back to join the band full time. Jon is excited about the chance, but is nonplussed to learn Frank wears that paper-mâché head all of the time, as Don explains. Don is envious of Frank's talent and tells Jon that he wants to be Frank.

When they get to their destination, Jon learns that this isn't a one-time gig and he won't be back to work on Monday. There is good news. Jon and Frank get along really well. There is also some bad news. This negatively effects the band's interpersonal dynamic and this in turn leads to spoilers.

I've mentioned before a problem I find prevalent in a lot of Indie comedies. Writers too often mistake quirky characters for humor. Sure, quirkiness can sometimes help the humor, but if too much of the humor is based on quirkiness, the films become grating too quickly. At least this is my opinion. Sadly, Frank falls into this category. Worse still, many of the characters are rather abrasive, to put it mildly. Jon takes the prospect of spending an extended time with these people in the Irish countryside rather well. I would consider that to be a living hell. If that's all the film had going for it, I would tell everyone to run away from the movie as fast as possible. However, the movie also has a lot of great acting in it and some very funny scenes. It does have an interesting take on the genius and creative inspiration, as well as the boundaries between creativeness and mental illness. At its best, it is a great movie. However, it is also an uneven movie and that results in a frustrating experience.

The Extras

Extras are better than expected with a director's commentary track. There are three deleted scenes with a total running time of 11 minutes. There are a series of featurettes, from the usual behind-the-scenes, one of the music, one of the name of the band, etc. with a total running time of just over 20 minutes. There is also a nearly 20-minute interview with the director, Lenny Abrahamson. Finally, there is the AXS TV: A Look At..., which is typical for Magnolia releases.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it only costs $13, which is $3 or 30% more than the DVD. That's a great deal.

The Verdict

Frank is at times great, but it is also frustratingly uneven. If you like Indie comedies, then I think it is worth checking out. If you've seen the movie and liked it, then the DVD or Blu-ray are worth picking up.

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Filed under: Video Review, Frank, Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson, Scoot McNairy, Lenny Abrahamson