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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Cougars, Inc.

May 9th, 2011

Cougars, Inc. - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Cougars, Inc. is the first film from writer / director / producer K. Asher Levin, but for a first effort, its cast has a high level of name recognition compared to most independent films. It stars Kyle Gallner from Veronica Mars, Kathryn Morris from Cold Case, James Belushi, Sarah Hyland from Modern Family, Denise Richards, Rebecca Mader from Lost, and others. Was K. Asher Levin able to compile this cast based on a strong script and the ability to put his ideas on film? Or is the name recognition of the cast the only thing the film has going for it.

The Movie

We get introduced to Sam as he talks to us about his business venture. He's a pimp, but not in the way we usually see in movies. Nope, he runs an escort service, staffed by his fellow male students, for older women who are looking for a little action. We then cut back to see how it all started, which was the first day at Sam's new boarding school. As he explains to his new headmaster, Dan, he's been kicked out of his other schools, but mostly due to strange circumstances. For instance, he had an affair with a T.A. at one school, while his mom had an affair a member of the faculty at another. But he's hoping this will be his last stop and he'll finally settle down.

Things get off to a rough start at his new school when Sam runs afoul of the school bully. On the other hand, he starts developing friendships with some of his fellow students. He even starts to have feelings for Courtney, who happens to be Dan's daughter. Awkward. Things are finally starting to look up for Sam when he finds out his mother can no longer pay the tuition. Devastated, he tries to drown his sorrow and has a one-night stand with Alison, an older woman who is unhappy with her domestic life. And the next morning, she leaves him a check for $500 dollars. When his friends find out, they figure this is the perfect way to solve his money problems, and get them some action in the process.

Meanwhile, Dan's trying to get him a scholarship to finish his education, but of course you know his new business will get the in the way of that.

So is the movie any good? Well, I'll start my review by saying the movie is very short; including opening and closing credits it's just 82 minutes long. While watching the movie I couldn't help but wonder if important details were cut out, like character motivations. Dan's really interested in helping Sam stay in school, but we never really get a feeling of why. Then on a more technical note, we seem to jump in and out of scenes without proper transitions. Were they cut out as well? To add to this, the movie tries to do way too much. It's a coming of age story for Sam, a mid-life crisis story for Alison, a story of young romance between Sam and Courtney, a Risky Business-like story with the escort agency, a teenage sex comedy with Sam's friends. It's all just too much for the film to handle, especially with that short running time. Pick one and stick with it. Hell, pick three and limit yourself to those.

So the cast is left to sell the movie, and they just are not able to. A lot of the characters are underwritten, while they play the potentially funny situations straight, which seems like a mistake. Maybe if they played it more for laughs it would be worse, I don't know. Maybe it would have been better if it were raunchier? It's hard to tell which direction would have been best, but what they went with didn't work.

The Extras

Extras start with an audio commentary track with K. Asher Levin, Kyle Gallner, and Kathryn Morris. There's a single extended scene where Sam and Dan talk about Sam's mother being unable to pay the tuition. Finally, there's a short featurette on Cougars with some of the cast.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but since it only cost 10% more than the DVD, there's little reason to not go with that option.

The Verdict

Cougars, Inc. has a wealth of ideas but can't connect with enough of them to work. The end result is sadly a mess and for most it is not even worth a rental. If you are intent on buying, the Blu-ray only cost 10% more than the DVD, which is a good deal, even with no exclusive extras.

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Filed under: Video Review, Cougars Inc.