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Youth in Oregon DVD Review

Youth in Oregon (2017) movie poster Youth in Oregon

Theatrical Release: February 3, 2017 / Running Time: 99 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Joel David Moore / Writer: Andrew Eisen

Cast: Frank Langella (Raymond Engersol), Billy Crudup (Brian Gleason), Christina Applegate (Kate Gleason), Mary Kay Place (Estelle Engersol), Josh Lucas (Danny Engersol), Nicola Peltz (Annie Gleason), Alex Shaffer (Nick Gleason), Maryann Plunkett (Maryanne), Robert Hogan (Peter), Keenan Jolliff (Colt), James Murtaugh (Dr. Feldstein), Michael Godere (Tom), Geoffrey Owens (Dr. Roma), Aaron Yoo (Motel Clerk)

Buy Youth in Oregon from Amazon.com: DVD Instant Video

Marketing departments take inspiration from the campaigns of past films all the time, but they usually do something to distinguish their work. Youth in Oregon, however,
seems to have no shame whatsoever in aping its key art from Little Miss Sunshine. Clearly, Youth, whose February theatrical release was limited enough not to produce a box office record, would love to evoke the 2006 Oscar-winning indie dramedy. Like it, it involves several generations of a family getting into some quirky adventures.

Youth in Oregon is not about children of the Pacific Northwest, but about euthanasia. Two years after suffering a heart attack, 79-year-old Raymond Engersol (Frank Langella) is ready to die. The retired doctor needs another surgery he doesn't want to undergo and he's tired of being a burden on his wife Estelle (Mary Kay Place) and his daughter Kate (Christina Applegate) and her husband Brian (Billy Crudup), the family in whose house he has been living since his cardiac arrest.

At his birthday dinner, to his family's shock and horror, Raymond announces his plans to have an assisted suicide performed in Oregon. While he's put in the paperwork to request the procedure, his family is convinced he won't get approved, since he is not terminal. Nonetheless, Brian reluctantly agrees to drive the old man and his wife across the country to fulfill his final wish.

In "Youth in Oregon", an old doctor with heart problems (Frank Langella) embarks on a road trip to end his life by assisted suicide in Oregon.

En route, there is a stop in Salt Lake City, where Raymond reconnects with his estranged son Danny (Josh Lucas), a gay, recently separated former Mormon. There's also a visit to Kate and Brian's 19-year-old grandson (Alex Shaffer), who it turns out is no longer attending college. The drive is fueled by prescription pills lifted from Brian and Kate's teen daughter (Nicola Peltz), who's in trouble for some nude selfies that went viral, and includes such episodes as a shared room in a roadside motel and a broken-into bird sanctuary in Cheyenne.

Youth in Oregon was written by newcomer Andrew Eisen, whose only other credit is for the supposedly real Awesomeness TV series "Out of My League." The film is helmed by Joel David Moore, who is better known for his acting work in films like Avatar, Dodgeball, and Grandma's Boy than his handful of indie directing credits.

There are touches of visual artistry. The film opens with lens flares galore and stark contrast play. Another scene looks like test footage for a music video. Most of the time, though, things play out with convention and formula. As an unrated, obviously low-budget independent film with a nearly 80-year-old leading man and minimal commercial prospects, Youth does not have to play things safely. And yet, more often than not, it does. It always does enough to keep us interested, but never enough to keep us invested or truly entertained.

Son-in-law Brian (Billy Crudup) is reluctantly tasked with driving Raymond (Frank Langella) and Estelle (Mary Kay Place) across the country.

As the world-weary protagonist ready to check out, Langella is good, which is no surprise to anyone who's seen his natural, sometimes appreciated work in films that date back to 1970.
Crudup, who has gladly been turning up in high-profile new movies more frequently of late, is even better as the son-in-law who is exasperated at having to play chauffeur on a road trip to an assisted suicide only Raymond believes in and only Raymond believes will actually occur.

Youth is not funny enough to be classified as a comedy. At the same time, it's rarely serious enough to be taken seriously. It occupies a middle ground as an indie with recognizable actors that won't win over the art house crowd, but has even less of a shot at delighting the mainstream moviegoer.

Like Langella's last vehicle as leading man, 2012's Robot & Frank, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has brought Youth in Oregon to DVD, but not Blu-ray as merely the home video distributor of a Samuel Goldwyn Films picture. (This one also counts Orion Pictures, a ubiquitous brand of the 1980s that vanished in the late '90s, as a producer.)

Youth in Oregon DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
Black Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Youth in Oregon looks like most new studio films do on DVD in 2017: good, but not as good as you're used to from watching Blu-rays and high definition television. The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation suffers from no specific drawbacks other than being encoded in a format with a lower resolution than is commonly found these days. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fine, while four subtitle tracks are supplied.

Hey, "Youth in Oregon" DVD main menu...."Little Miss Sunshine" called. It wants its marketing campaign back.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Youth in Oregon is joined by not a damn thing on DVD. No trailers for this or anything else are found on a scored, static menu reproducing the Sunshiney cover art with only Play Movie, Subtitles, and Scene Selections in the way of options.

No inserts join the plain silver disc inside the unslipcovered black case.

Estelle (Mary Kay Place), Brian (Billy Crudup), and Raymond (Frank Langella) break into an animal sanctuary in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Despite its appetizing cast, Youth in Oregon fails to make a great impression on you. This indie euthanasia dramedy neither works as a comedy nor a drama, leaving you fairly underwhelmed with its formulaic, episodic road trip. Sony's DVD provides a satisfactory but entirely basic presentation of the film.

Buy Youth in Oregon from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Frank Langella: Robot & Frank Parts Per Billion The Driftless Area The Men's Club Draft Day Noah Grace of Monaco
Billy Crudup: 20th Century Women Jackie Ruderless | Christina Applegate: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Vacation
Mary Kay Place: Youth in Revolt Mama's Boy Tales of the City | Josh Lucas: Sweet Home Alabama Glory Road Stolen
The Guilt Trip

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Reviewed April 7, 2017.



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