As far as films in Robert Downey Jr.’s portfolio go, this is one of his lesser known efforts from 90s. Although it was slightly known for its dubious NC-17 rating (which, if this movie were to be rated by today’s standards, would likely just be an R), the majority of the movie going public ignored this film when it was released back in 1998. Of course they didn’t have much of a choice at the time—it was limited to 316 theaters and brought in under $2 million (although its budget was half that, so not a total loss).
They’re as different as they are beautiful, but Carla (Heather Graham) and Lou (Natasha Gregson Wagner) have more in common than meets the eye. Each thinks she has the world’s greatest boyfriend – until both realize they’re talking about the same guy!
This is certainly an interesting film. The main reason I say that is that it takes place in one setting with little deviation once the film starts. Hell, the entire film itself was shot in eleven days, so that should tell you how relatively “breezy” the shoot was. But what really makes this an interesting film is that it is purely dialogue driven—there are very few moments of silence and it’s the actors who chew up each sequence with remarkable flexibility.
Take the scene in the bathtub, for instance. It’s completely improvised and it shows—the reactions from the characters and just the way the dialogue flows is incredibly natural. While I found the film itself to be rather uninspired, the way it was assembled was frankly quite genius. The setup and result of the film are rather played out; the girls accuse Blake (Downey) of cheating on them when the girls themselves, in fact, have cheated as well. It’s all morally ambiguous and there’s even talk of a threesome at the end of the film, but none of that comes into fruition (and that’s not the reason for the NC-17 either) and in the end the whole film feels pointless.
As lifeless as the film was in the story, however, it really did impress with the characters. Most of that’s just Downey’s charisma showing through in every scene, as he does a remarkable job with pretty much any roles he’s in. The think-on-your-feet style that he employed here was almost reminiscent of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, although that role was a lot more comedic than the one here. Still, anything that reminds me of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang can’t be all bad.
The film is worth watching solely to see how it was pulled off. I mean that episode of Seinfeld that is just them waiting in line at a restaurant is often talked about for the strange setting and unlikely idea and this film can be painted as such as well. The singular location and the sheer amount of dialogue that pours out of the characters is truly remarkable. At the very least the film is worth a Rental; as I said before it’s not a very good film, it’s just an interesting one to say that you’ve seen at least once.
An odd film for Blu-ray to be sure, but Fox had to find something with Downey now that he’s a hot property. The film itself arrives in a standard Elite Eco Blu-ray case without any inserts. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and the film itself is encoded with an AVC transfer. There are two cuts of the film included for some reason and both look identical, with the only difference being the “scandalous” scene that warranted it an NC-17 rating. I won’t go into details what it is here, but those curious enough can find descriptions of it fairly easy online. Quite honestly I was a little disappointed—NC-17 is a rare thing to see, but like most things rated NC-17 it’s not worth the hype. In any case the transfer is relatively solid, but the dark interior of the apartment doesn’t exactly scream a need for a crystal clear transfer and as a result we don’t get one—it’s slightly muddy at times, but honestly it’s adequate for this type of film. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is completely overkill as the dialogue remains front and center and little, if anything, creeps into the surrounds or LFE.
• Commentary by James Toback, Robert Downey Jr. and Natasha Gregson Wagner
• A Conversation with James Toback
• Theatrical Trailer
Relatively light, but the commentary is particulary entertaining to listen to as all participants offer plenty of insight into the making of the film. Again, the story is pretty bland but just how the film was shot and executed was just really well done and the commentary only helps drive that point home further.
Overall a disc that’s a strict Rental only. Unless you’re a Downey fanboy/girl, it’s unlikely you’ll watch this film more than once, but, again, it’s interesting enough for a singular view if you’re a film buff.
Two Girls and a Guy is now available on Blu-ray.