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Girls Against Boys Blu-ray Review

Girls Against Boys (2013) movie poster Girls Against Boys

Theatrical Release: February 1, 2013 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Austin Chick

Cast: Danielle Panabaker (Shae), Nicole LaLiberte (Lulu), Liam Aiken (Tyler), Michael Stahl-David (Simon), Andrew Howard (Terry), Matthew Rauch (Officer Daniels), Will Brill (Duncan), Carmine DiBenedetto (Eric), Reyna De Courcy (Karen), Caroline Lagerfelt (Professor Sara Randolph)

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"Girls against boys" sounds like a school playground suggestion for some old-fashioned gender rivalry. It's also the name of an indie rock band from Washington, D.C. And now it is the title of a movie that comes to DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday after playing in two theaters earlier this month.

Girls Against Boys is the third film directed by Austin Chick. Like the two previous ones, the romantic drama XX/XY (2002), which he also wrote, and the Wall Street drama August (2008), which he also produced,
this one just barely avoids a "direct-to-video" label. Unlike Chick's prior films, though, this one has virtually no indie credibility as a genre film unlikely to appeal to genre fans.

The film stars Disney girl (Sky High) turned horror remake lady (2009's Friday the 13th, 2010's The Crazies) Danielle Panabaker as Shae, a New York City college student. She is looking forward to spending a weekend in the Hamptons with her boyfriend. But the 35-year-old Terry (Andrew Howard) announces he's getting back together with his wife (whom Shae knew about) for the benefit of their 3-year-old daughter (whom Shae did not know about). This understandably puts Shae in a bad mood as she picks up hours at work. Her fellow club bartender, Lu (Nicole LaLiberte), and her go out for some fun, but the night doesn't end that way when Shae is raped at her house by Simon (Michael Stahl-David), a seemingly respectable guy she just met.

In "Girls Against Boys", Lulu (Nicole LaLiberte) and Shae (Danielle Panabaker) kill the men that have wronged them.

We already know that Lu (short for Lulu) is not a great role model, because the film, in a bit of nonlinearity undoubtedly conceived in post-production, opens with her tying up a policeman and taking his gun. We discover that that policeman shows insensitivity to Shae when she goes to report the sexual assault she experienced. Lu deals with him. Simon and those who know him are next. And don't think family man Terry isn't getting what's coming to him.

Chick (what an appropriate surname for the male maker of this film) is influenced by Quentin Tarantino. This blend of violence and dark comedy, which sees these two young women killing men and then singing along with old Donovan songs in the car, doesn't have any of the art or poetry. Chick clearly has some cinematic talent, as you would hope of someone who directed a Mark Ruffalo movie over ten years ago, but it is wasted on this dumb story of cold-blooded vengeance murders. So while Chick spares us typical ditzy co-ed horror movie banter to linger on Panabaker's blank face drowned in overpowering score, there isn't really any way to get on board with this film.

Girls Against Boys is set in a world where apparently criminal law does not exist. Four men in the primes of their lives can't believably get killed without a trail of evidence or any suspicion. However, the movie doesn't want to be a procedural police drama, but a psychological thriller. You do not sympathize with Lu at all, whose suggestion of imbalance in the film's prologue is later confirmed as full-blown sociopathy. Her story of sexual abuse as a child is a joke, as in, boy it's funny to discard a conventional backstory for this serial killer and hope you don't notice we don't give her any legitimate motivation for becoming a misandrous murder. Shae, on the other hand, is wronged, but it's a pretty big leap from unseen rape to calm, collected killer, torturer, and chicken parm hero eater.

Lu (Nicole LaLiberte) lures in a police officer with some frank flirtation. Out of nowhere, Shae (Danielle Panabaker) goes to Coney Island with nice classmate Tyler (Liam Aiken).

Perhaps Chick deserves some credit for leaving much of the film's torture to suggestion. Oh, the film is R-rated and doesn't flinch from killing characters on screen. But perhaps the director's non-genre background encourages him to leave some of the gore to imagination, to what might be the dismay of certain horror fans.
Still, the movie is pretty terrible, recalling exploitation films of the '70s without any historical value or Roger Ebert vitriol to supply interest.

One can only speculate what inspired Chick to tell this ugly story in this edgy, post-modern way. I guess XX/XY and August royalties can't be paying the bills, nor can being thanked in others' movies credits. But couldn't he have used his talent to make something interesting and appealing to somebody?

Liam Aiken (no relation to Clay), a child actor you may remember from Stepmom, Road to Perdition, Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events, and the family comedy Good Boy!, takes third billing in this film, playing a friendly classmate, DJ, and unrealistically soon rebound love interest to Shae whose sudden, public end by katana motivates the climax.

Girls Against Boys Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 Dolby TrueHD (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extra Not Subtitled
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though the film may be ugly, its Blu-ray presentation is not. The 1.78:1 picture is razor-sharp and immaculate. Likewise, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is crisp and potent, though you may not care for the way music deliberately drowns out dialogue at times. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are offered, but not extended to the audio commentary.

Lu (Nicole LaLiberte) and Shae (Danielle Panabaker) marvel at the nutritional value of Cap'n Crunch. The "Girls Against Boys" Blu-ray menu creates photomosaic out of an assortment of smut.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The only bonus feature included here and easily missed in the Set Up menu is an audio commentary by writer/directed Austin Chick and leading lady Danielle Panabaker. Their remarks are highly screen-specific and unrehearsed, often amounting to little more than identifying the filming locations, praising actors as they appear, discussing the camera, and just plain narrating. In short, it's just as much of a waste of time as watching the movie with its original soundtrack. At least, we learn that issues of legal clearance kept deleted scenes off the disc.

The disc opens with a trailer for the direct-to-video Sharon Stone thriller Border Run. That isn't accessible by menu and no trailer for Girls Against Boys is included.

The Blu-ray's animated menu shows unusual creativity, creating a photo mosaic out of pin-ups and pornography, with Polaroids of the cast popping up and playing clips. Typical for an Anchor Bay film, the disc supports bookmarks, but doesn't resume playback.

No inserts or slipcovers liven up the eco-friendly keepcase.

To the annoyance of jaded Lu (Nicole LaLiberte), Shae (Danielle Panabaker) hesitates to off her married boyfriend.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If the roles were reversed and this movie was about young men killing the women that have wronged them, I suspect that this movie never would have been made and if it had been, it would have been subjected to outcry. But being Girls Against Boys, not Boys Against Girls, the film exists with little notice or fanfare. That hypothetical isn't profound, but it is a tad more interesting than anything in this unpleasant revenge fantasy, whose potential cinematic power is lost in a stupid, inscrutable story. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray delivers strong picture and sound plus a boring audio commentary.

Buy Girls Against Boys from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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ExTerminators I Spit on Your Grave (2010) I Spit on Your Grave (1978) The Loved Ones The Cabin in the Woods
Danielle Panabaker: Friday the 13th (2009) Read It and Weep Sky High The Crazies | Michael Stahl-David: Cloverfield

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Reviewed February 23, 2013.



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