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Keeping The Faith

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG-13

Studio: Disney

Running Time: 129 minutes

Starring: Edward Norton, Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman, Anne Brancroft, Milos Forman

Written by Stuart Blumberg

Directed by Edward Norton

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Trailer, Commentary with Edward Norton and Stuart Blumberg, Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary, Cast and Crew Bios, Gag Reel

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, English Subtitles, Chapter Search

When I first saw the trailer to this movie, I didn't know what to make of it. It seemed like a funny romantic comedy, but like a good majority of movies, the trailers are so well done while the movie itself is a piece of garbage. "Keeping The Faith" seemed like a very good concept, but if it was poorly executed, it'd be a major disappointment. What also worried me (and surprised me) was that Edward Norton, truly one of the greatest actors of the current generation, was directing the film. Sure, some great actors have directed great films (Warren Beatty and Robert Redford come to mind), but many great actors who take the helm clearly show they were meant to be actors, and being a visionary offscreen wasn't their main purpose. When I walked into see this movie in the theaters, I thought it was going to be a great energetic comedy. I hate to disappoint you. The trailer did show most of the good and funny stuff. Still, there are some good bits not in the preview to be found in "Keeping The Faith", Edward Norton's directorial debut. Norton's first helm is surprsingly good. I wouldn't call it a flat out masterpiece, but he sewed together a nice romantic comedy, written by his old time friend Stuart Blumberg. Still, I say Norton sticks to acting.

"Keeping the Faith" follows two lifelong friends, one a rabbi, Jake Schram (Ben Stiller), the other a priest (Norton) who are going to see a childhood friend, Anna (Jenna Elfman) once again when she comes to New York for some business work with her company. However, a little love triangle forms. This creates situations and complications which are often hilarious and somewhat dramatic, but still predictiable. It also faces questions that deal with religon and marriage.

The script is good, but I could have seen tons of ways to go with the plot which may have made the film better. I'd spill my guts right here, but I don't want to give the whole movie away, and there is a lot to it. The acting is top-notch, Stiller, who is always great, is perfect in this role. Norton and Elfman play their roles to perfection as well, plus there are some nice supporting roles, but I wish those were expanded on.

If you lower your expectations a little, you may enjoy the movie a little more. Not to say it is a bad film, I just think in some cases it could have worked better. The movie is also twenty minutes longer than it should be, and the romance overlaps the comedy. Still, this is a nice date movie and you're sure to enjoy at least some part of it, but I only wish there was a little bit more zaniness.

Once again, Disney proves with an anamorphic transfer, they can get it right. I didn't notice any artifacting, and there was hardly any dirt or grain on this really clean print. Detail is very good, especially with the opening montage of New York City locations. Colors are well saturated too, it's simply a very nice transfer.

I feel this ruins the disc. The film is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, but I didn't hear any surrounds whatsoever. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, but what really annoys me is that most of the music is kept to the front channels, while I'm sure it would have sounded much better when it used more of them.

Disney has served a very good amount of special features for a movie like this, and I'm glad they did.

First up is a Commentary with Edward Norton and Stuart Blumberg. The commentary isn't the best one I've ever heard, but it's decent. Their comments can be downright simple, and some can be pretty insightful. There are some pauses too, but if you enjoyed the movie and were wondering about certain shots or locations, give this commentary a listen.

Commentary can be heard with or without on the ten Deleted Scenes. They rack up in total to about twenty minutes, and you can see why they were cut from the final film. They really don't advance the story, but they are good for a watch. Norton explains his reason too on the optional commentary, and I was glad (and surprised) to see the cut scenes were fully editied, in widescreen and looked great.

A Gag Reel which lasts about seven minutes is presented, and is good for a laugh, but I couldn't see watching it for more than a few times. Still, it is there and some are pretty funny. Rounding out the disc is a Theatrical Trailer in full frame and some detailed Cast and Crew Bios.

This film is pretty entertaining and enjoyable, and Norton shows he is capable of being a pretty decent director. While I felt the script had room for improvment, "Keeping The Faith" offers a great DVD release from Disney, filled with a substantial amount of features and some great anamorphic video. Keep up the good work, Disney.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(2/5)

(3/5)

(3/5, NOT an average)

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