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Daddy and Them
Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Comedy
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Length: 102 min
Rating: R
Release Date: 01/13/2004
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Commentary: Feature commentary with writer/director Billy Bob Thornton, co-producer Bruce Heller, and producer Robert Salerno
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: Behind-the-scenes featurette
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: None
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: Deleted scenes with optional commentary
Music Video: None
Other: "The Return of Karl" short film
Cast and Crew: Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Kelly Preston, Andy Griffith, Jim Varney, Brenda Blethyn, Ben Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis
Written By: Billy Bob Thornton
Produced By: Larry Meistrich, J. Geyer Kosinski, Robert Salerno
Directed By: Billy Bob Thornton
Music: Marty Stuart
The Review:

And you thought "The Jerry Springer Show" was the only place to find midland America's finest in white trash entertainment. Billy Bob Thornton's "Daddy and Them" is like the ultimate trip to the trailer park without ever having the leave the cleanliness or comfort of your living room, but the only question is, why would you want to? This wanna-be comedy stars Thornton opposite his now-real-life ex, Laura Dern; they play Claude and Ruby, the latter of whom has trust issues due to the fact that before they were married, Claude dated and slept with her sister, Rose (Kelly Preston). Their relationship is one of constant bickering and making up, interrupted (but not entirely so) by the incarceration of Claude's uncle Hazel (Jim Varney) for attempted murder. This brings them down to his family's home, along with Ruby's mother (Diane Ladd) and Rose, and a whole host of colorful characters. ***

Numerous critics and viewers have billed the film as a dark comedy, but only if you count the likes of Andy Griffith talking about such things as "shooting blanks" could you consider this dark, much less humorous. There's simply nothing to this premise, and not a single character worth caring about; honestly, the guests on "Springer" are more appealing. At least they give us some kind of entertainment value, even if it does pander to our inner desire to watch unfaithful losers throw chairs at one another and call each other vulgar names. Such tactics might have made "Daddy and Them" far more entertaining, and it's not as if the movie doesn't try (it's not rated R for strong language for nothing). But even with the likes of Ben Affleck and Jamie Lee Curtis chewing on the words as a lawyer firm couple with bedroom problems, there's simply no hint of wit or magic to the dialogue, and the movie is as stale as day-old Miller Lite.

Image and Sound:

Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with anamorphic enhancement, "Daddy and Them" looks very nice on DVD. Color saturation captures fleshtones and nature's hues accurately and with vivid detail, while contrast and shadow detail are always in fine form, save for a few moments where pixelization pops up slightly. Clarity is also very good, with sharp edges that don't suffer from too many halos, and the source print is clean with little film grain throughout. Not a bad-looking image, really. ***

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix, however, is less engaging, but nonetheless it gets the job done. There's not a whole lot here for it to tinker with: some score, which is nicely wrapped into the surrounds, the dialogue, which is centered and sounds natural, and some slight atmospherics, which are imaged appropriately, but nothing to get excited over. --

The Extras: Following the commentary is a behind-the-scenes featurette where the cast and crew gush over how good the movie is, how well-written and directed it is, how it really captures the white-trash aspect of society accurately, and blah, blah, blah. You get the picture by now, I'm sure. Then there are some deleted scenes with commentary from Thornton, and a short film called "The Return of Karl," which is as confusing in its placement here as it is completely stupid.
Commentary: There's an audio commentary with writer/director Billy Bob Thornton, co-producer Bruce Heller, and producer Robert Salerno, and truth be told, Thornton is about as engaging here as he was playing the role of Claude in the movie. Heller and Salerno have a few interesting things to comment on now and then, but overall, this isn't a very good listen.
Final Words: After playing in limited release back in 2001 and airing on cable in January 2003, "Daddy and Them" is now coming home on DVD for those of you who could and couldn't care less. To make matters worse, there's extras on the disc, too, none of which are really very enlightening.


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