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Smashed (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 27, 2013 by  



“Smashed” benefits from its wonderful performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead but also for its gutsy ending.  There are too many people who choose not to solve their problems and are too comfortable with the way things were despite how much pain or trouble they get into.  May it be domestic abuse, gang affiliation, drug addiction and alcohol abuse, “Smashed” is a film that shows us that staying sober is not easy and it also means making tough choices for one’s survival.  A film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Smashed, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Smashed

YEAR OF FILM: 2012

DURATION: 81 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 – Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Korean, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (For Alcohol Abuse, Language, Some Sensual Content and Brief Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: February 26, 2013

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Written by Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt

Produced by Jennifer Cochis, Jonathan Schwartz, Andre Sperling, Zygi Wilf

Co-Produced: Stephanie Meurer, Stephen A. Ricci, Elise Salomon

Associate Producer: Alishe Beardeaux

Music by Andy Cabic, Eric D. Johnson

Cinematography by Tobias Datum

Edited by Suzanne Spangler

Casting by Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Linda Sena

Art Direction by Sarah M. Pott

Costume Design by Diaz

Starring:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate Hannah

Aaron Paul as Charlie Hannah

Octavia Spencer as Jenny

Nick Offerman as Dave Davies

Mega Mullally as Principal Barnes

Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul, TV’s “Breaking Bad” ) are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking…especially the drinking. When Kate’s drinking leads her to dangerous places and her job as a school teacher is put into jeopardy, she decides to join AA and get sober. With the help of her new friend and sponsor Jenny (Octavia Spencer, The Help), and the vice principal at her school, the awkward, but well intentioned, Mr. Davies, Kate takes steps toward improving her health and life. Sobriety isn’t as easy as Kate had anticipated. Her new lifestyle brings to the surface a troubling relationship with her mother, facing the lies she’s told her employer (Megan Mullaly TV’s “Parks and Recreation” ) and calls into question whether or not her relationship with Charlie is built on love or just a boozy diversion from adulthood.

From filmmaker James Ponsoldt (“Off the Black”, “Junebug and Hurricane”) and writer Susan Burke comes the drama comedy “Smashed” which made its debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was the winner of the U.S. dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing.

The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Final Destination 3”, “The Thing”, “Live Free or Die Hard”), Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”, “Mission: Impossible III”, “The Last House on the Left”), Octavia Spencer (“The Help”, “Being John Malkovich”, “Spider-Man”, “Seven Pounds”), Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”, “21 Jump Street”, “Sin City”) and Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”, “Stealing Harvard”).

And the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in March 2013.

“Smashed” revolves around Kate Hannah (portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who loves having a fun time with her husband Charlie (portrayed by Aaron Paul).  Unfortunately, she drinks too much to the point that its affecting her life, but her husband who also likes to drink accepts her no matter what.

She wets the bed quite often, as a school teacher, it begins to affect her teaching at school because she often has a hangover.  And it got to the point where she told children in class that she’s pregnant and thus why she had morning sickness.

The children told their parents, who end up calling Principal Barnes (portrayed by Megan Mullally) and now Principal Barnes is excited for Kate as an expecting mother.

But only her friend, teacher Dave Davies (portrayed by Nick Offerman) knows the truth that she has an alcohol problem.  And that was because he is also a former addict and alcoholic.

But after one night of drinking so much at a local bar, she ends up giving a drug addict a ride home and experiments with crack.   The next morning, she wakes up with her car gone and sleeping in the middle of nowhere.

She decides to take Dave’s advice and comes with him to an AA meeting and tries to be sober with the help of other former alcoholics such as Dave and Jenny (portrayed by Octavia Spencer).

While her husband Charlie tells her that he will try to help and support her, she realizes how difficult it is for her to stay sober when her mother is an alcoholic, her husband keeps wanting her to drink, so she can have fun and her classroom starts to become suspicious that her stomach has not grown in months and the lying starts to eat up at her.

Will Kate be able to stay sober?

VIDEO, AUDIO AND SUBTITLES:

“Smashed” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.  It’s important to note that if you want  better picture and audio quality, you want to go for the Blu-ray release of this film.

As for the DVD, picture quality is good.  You can still see a fine layer of grain, some scenes are a bit dark at times and the handheld camera can be dizzying for some.  But for the most part, the majority of the film looks good on DVD.

Subtitles are in  English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Korean and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Smashed” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director James Ponsoldt and actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
  • Making Smashed – (12:24) Behind-the-scenes on the making of “Smashed”.  James Ponsoldt and Susan Burke talk about how the film came to be.  Interviews with the cast members.
  • Toronto Film Festival Red Carpet Q&A – (14:45) Q&A with director James Ponsoldt, actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, actress Octavia Spencer and producer Jennifer Cochis.
  • Deleted Scenes – (10:32) Featuring six deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:23) The original theatrical trailer for “Smashed”.

In today’s society, it’s well-known that alcoholics and addicts face major challenges in their first steps of recovery.

And while there have been film and television shows on the subject of alcoholism, “Smashed” is a fascinating film of one’s journey through being sober and how sobriety is not easy.  But it’s a crucial step in order for one to take back their life, or else they will end up hurting or getting themselves killed.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a magnificent job of playing the recovering alcoholic, Kate.  Sometimes one has to fall down so low to realize that their addition is getting the best of them and in this case, the character of Kate constantly wets her bed, she is unfit to work as a teacher for young children and lies about her alcoholism that her sickness is due to pregnancy and it’s so bad that when she’s drunk, she’s out of hand.  Drunk driving, experimenting with drugs, peeing in a store and just not conscious about how bad alcohol has consumed her.

But one thing that the film shows is how loved ones can be enablers to alcoholism.  Kate’s mother is an alcoholic, her husband likes drinking and encourages her to drink because she would be a more “fun” person to be with.

And no matter if you have AA and close friends with you to help  you with your recovery, it’s also important to eliminate things that will cause you to fall  hard again.

It’s easy for one to say stay away from those who enable you to do these things, but for the character of Kate and  her husband Charlie, these two are in love and enjoy each other.  But if one is unwilling to be sober or enables it and the other really wants to badly be sober, there is really one way that person can go.

Both Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul have great chemistry of playing a happy young married couple but also seeing how this marriage starts to tear itself apart.  But also making the character of Kate thinking if her marriage is actually based on love or the convenience of getting smashed and not growing up.

Octavia Spencer does a great job in a supportive role (which she was cast for the film prior to her being cast on “The Help”) as Jenny, who tries to listen and give advice to Kate.  Megan Mullally plays a more serious role in “Smashed” than the comedic roles that she is best known for, so it was good to see her playing a different type of role.  And Nick Offerman as Kate’s friend and co-worker who has a crush on her and says the creepiest things.

As mentioned earlier, the Blu-ray release is available for “Smashed”, so if one wants the best picture quality, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  But the DVD release of “Smashed” is still good and I detected no major problems with picture quality or audio and there are a good number of special features included.

Overall, “Smashed” benefits from its wonderful performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead but also for its gutsy ending.  There are too many people who choose not to solve their problems and are too comfortable with the way things were despite how much pain or trouble they get into.  May it be domestic abuse, gang affiliation, drug addiction and alcohol abuse, “Smashed” is a film that shows us that staying sober is not easy and it also means making tough choices for one’s survival.

A film worth watching!

With







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