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The Lookout DVD Review

The Lookout (2007) movie poster - click to buy The Lookout

Theatrical Release: March 30, 2007 / Running Time: 99 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Scott Frank

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Chris Pratt), Jeff Daniels (Lewis), Matthew Goode (Gary Spargo), Isla Fisher (Luvlee Lemons), Carla Gugino (Janet), Bruce McGill (Robert Pratt), Alberta Watson (Barbara Pratt), Alex Borstein (Mrs. Lange), Sergio Di Zio (Deputy Ted), David Huband (Mr. Tuttle), Laura Vandervoort (Kelly), Greg Dunham (Bone), Morgan Kelly (Marty), Aaron Berg (Cork), Tinsel Korey (Maura), Suzanne Kelly (Nina)

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By Aaron Wallace

The Lookout was released to theaters on March 30, 2007 with little fanfare,
attracting only a negligible number of moviegoers but a considerable amount of critical praise. Produced on a reported 16 million dollar budget and earning just over a quarter of that, this Miramax movie was anything but a hit. As has been proven again and again, however, box office success does not a good movie make when all is said and done, The Lookout is a good movie.

The story is centered around Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a one-time hockey prodigy who loses much of his skill, memory, and identity in an ill-fated joyride. His incapacitating injury leaves him frustrated and lonely, forced to leave the risky athletic world behind for a janitorial night job at a local bank. Emotionally distant from his family, companionship is scarce for Chris, though he does have one true friend in his blind, much older roommate, Lewis (Jeff Daniels).

In "The Lookout", a car accident renders high school hockey star Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) mentally impaired and scarred on the inside. Supposed former schoolmate Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) reeks of opportunism to the viewer, but the trusting Chris is less suspicious.

That changes when a new crew of acquaintances enters Chris' life, among them a troublemaker named Gary (Matthew Goode) and a new love interest named Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher). Seeing an opportunity in their new pal's after-hours position at the bank, Gary and his lowlife posse plot a heist that puts a hesitant Chris in the center of the action.

Immediately noticeable when watching The Lookout is its similarity to Memento, thanks to the central problem of lost memory and a doing-things-backwards motif. The movie's tone is reminiscent of American Beauty as well, and of course, there is no shortage of bank robberies in American cinema either. Nevertheless, The Lookout sets itself apart from action flicks and dark dramas of the past.

Lewis (Jeff Daniels) doesn't just wear sunglasses to look cool... he's blind. Aussie actress Isla Fisher drops her natural accent to play Luvlee Lemons, a dancer of sorts (obviously), who takes an interest in Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, left).

Even while much of the story comes to pass because of the bank robbery, the movie never becomes about the bank robbery.
(And as for that whole backwards-thinking thing, it's overlooked easily enough.) Instead, it is a compelling human drama that examines self-perceived irrelevance to the world. To this end, the protagonist is refreshingly well-developed and the story thoughtfully designed to give ventilation to his anxieties. The supporting characters all ring true and as a result, the audience is invested on some level in each.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers a fantastic performance, as remarkably effective a dramatic lead here as he was a laugh-getter on "3rd Rock From the Sun." The young actor's delivery essentially makes the movie, bringing to the role the conviction it requires. Jeff Daniels is unsurprisingly successful in his portrayal of Lewis as well, again flaunting his ability to be funny and moving at the same time.

The Lookout isn't likely to become anyone's new favorite movie, but it does stay with viewers days later. This staying power is a testimony to the film's dramatic virtue and reason enough to give it a try. Buena Vista Home Entertainment released the film to a mediocre DVD last week and its contents are explored below.

Buy The Lookout on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: August 14, 2007
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Keepcase
Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Lookout is appropriately presented in its very wide 2.40:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays. The movie was shot on digital video on a modest budget and as a result, suffers severely in the video department. The picture is soft, blurry, and grainy, something I think can probably be attributed to the production itself and not the transfer to disc. The low quality is especially noticeable on large displays but even on smaller screens is hard to miss. Don't misunderstand me; it's still evident that this is a recent release and there are far worse-off movies on the format. The movie is still easy to enjoy and many shots are beautiful despite their limitations, but suffice it to say that this is not a DVD you'll use to show off your HDTV.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track fares quite a bit better. The channels are evenly mixed and for the most part, the rear channels provide ample support. On the whole, the movie's audio presentation is quite pleasing.

Short-haired and needing sleep, Joseph Gordon-Levitt discusses what attracted him to the project in "Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt." "The Lookout" marks the directorial debut for veteran screenwriter and script doctor Scott Frank, who appears in the disc's two featurettes. The images that feature in the story of Chris Pratt's life also make up the animated Main Menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

There are three bonus features on the DVD. The first is a feature-length audio commentary from writer and director Scott Frank and director of photography Alar Kivilo. This very dry conversation focuses primarily on technical aspects of the production.
There are some interesting tidbits to be learned but only those who really love audio commentaries will be interested enough to listen from beginning to end.

The next two supplements are quite a bit better. "Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt" (9:26) takes on the same mission as the movie itself: understanding the primary character. In this featurette, Joseph Gordon-Levitt speaks as himself, sharing some of his insight on the character and the steps he took to capture him. Other principal cast and crew members chime in as well, accompanied by some behind-the-scenes footage.

Next is "Sequencing The Lookout" (19:58), which, despite its title, isn't so much a look at story structure as it is a standard making-of featurette. Production is chronicled step by step, though in brief, and reflected on by those who made the movie. Again, behind-the-scenes footage and interesting analysis make this one worth seeing.

Oddly enough, the 16x9 main menu kicks off with the never-welcome sound of an alarm clock but soon transitions into highlights from the movie's pleasant score. Visually, the menu is animated and nicely designed. The disc is packaged inside a standard black keepcase that includes a chapter index and a plug for the purchasing of authentic DVDs (as opposed to illegal bootlegs).

The disc begins with previews for Becoming Jane, Eagle vs. Shark, The Invisible, and the merits of not downloading movies illegally. The main menu holds additional previews for Renaissance, Neverwas, The Hoax, and Our Very Own.

Chris gives the look of a late-night bank janitor who'd rather work as a daytime teller. "Whoever has the money has the power." The persuasive Gary lays out the plan for Chris and the lowlifes behind him to pull off a bank heist.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Though it initially feels derivative, The Lookout emerges from expectations of redundancy to become a very good movie. A script that pays close attention to character and a capable cast that includes a terrific actor in the lead ensures that the audience will be attentive and impressed. The biggest drawback is the cheap appearance that digital video and a low budget provide but nevertheless, the movie is absolutely one you should see. The DVD comes with a couple of worthwhile bonus features but if you add this to your collection, it's going to be for the sake of seeing the movie again. Fortunately, that's something you're likely to be interested in. Whether it's online, Blockbuster, or Best Buy, the next time you're out shopping, look out for The Lookout!

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Reviewed August 19, 2007.



Text copyright 2007 DVDizzy.com/UltimateDisney.com. Images copyright 2007 Miramax Films and Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.