Friday, October 24, 2008


Written by Pollo Misterioso

Put Helen Hunt behind the camera, calling the shots. Put her in front of the camera to play an emotionally challenged woman. Assemble a small, but very recognizable cast around her and you have the beginnings of Hunt’s feature-length directorial debut. Then She Found Me is a genuine film about human betrayals, filled with the glitches of a first-time filmmaker, but carried by a story that empowers women and causes you to think.

Based off of the novel of the same name by Elinor Lipman, Hunt took on acting, producing, screenwriting, and directing roles for this film. This was a script that had taken her ten years to get to the screen. Clearly, there is a decent amount of care that went into this picture. But it paid off, with a perfect supporting cast played by Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick, and Bette Midler.

Hunt plays the schoolteacher April Epner, who has recently been left by her husband (Broderick) right before her adopted mother passes away and her birth mother (Midler) appears. Plagued with the need to give birth, April struggles with connections with people around her. Firth plays Frank, a single parent raising two children, who is enamored with April. When she tries to start a relationship with Frank, although still married to her husband, she finds out that she is pregnant—making for interesting doctors appointments. When she tries to start a relationship with her birth mother Bernice, she is constantly let down.

Described as a film about betrayal, it is also a film about different relationships with other people and with yourself, but within that comes the disloyalty between human beings. Written in a way that strays from the Hollywood formula, there are very empowering and real-life moments that are quite haunting. In fact, it is supposed to be a comedy, but not the kind of comedy one might think. Instead a light humor is laced throughout, lifting the burden of these intense emotions.

Hunt does an incredible job on both sides of the camera. Her character is a strong woman, but who wears her tragedies on her face and in her body language. Life is not easy for April, or anyone, and it becomes tangible on the screen. Midler is always a joy, bringing a spark and ferocity to Bernice that makes her lovable and despicable at the same time. The two male leads carry their roles perfectly, but the most beautiful scene in the film comes between April and her mother as she cries in the doctor’s office.

Then She Found Me is empowering for women in a way that is not often seen in films. Our female lead goes after what she wants, making mistakes along the way, but still representing a strong-willed woman that wants to be a mother, dealing with what “motherhood” means when she has been adopted herself.

Unfortunately, one might overlook this simple indie film and it could easily be considered boring with its chosen pace. But there are memorable moments that redeem the film. Hunt is clearly finding her voice as a director. On screen and off, there are slight hiccups that make the film short of seamless. That does not discredit all that she did right, but give her a few more films and she will have perfected her craft. As a first film, this shows promise and as an independent picture, Then She Found Me takes the everyday and makes it cinematic, which is never an easy thing to do.

The DVD extras that accompany the film include audio commentary from Hunt. Included are cast interviews with the lead cast. Most interesting is the extra is the entire cast featurette, explaining how they got into the project and what they think of it.

Adam-12: Season Two

Written by Hombre Divertido

In 1968 Jack Webb was in the midst of his second run as police sergeant Joe Friday on the incredibly popular police drama Dragnet. Webb had originally created the program for radio and brought it to television in 1952 where it remained on the air for seven years. Webb brought Dragnet back in 1967, while also planning to launch a similarly themed program based on patrol officers. With Dragnet once again a ratings hit, Webb would launch Adam–12. Like Dragnet, it would be a huge hit and remain on the air for seven years.

Webb not only knew that people had an interest in police stories, he also knew the fundamentals of successful television: keep it simple, focus on endearing characters, and leave the audience wanting more. Adam–12 had all these characteristics, and is a television classic.

Released on September 30th from Shout Factory are all twenty-six original episodes from season two, and it is rare to find any non-serial television show on DVD that will leave you wanting to watch the next episode like this collection will.

Ten years before we were introduced to Jon and Ponch on CHiPs, we met veteran police officer Pete Malloy, played by the former star of the popular series Route 66 Martin Milner, and rookie Jim Reed, played by relative newcomer Kent McCord. Their chemistry was solid, as Malloy was a strong calming force for the enthusiastic and over anxious Reed.

Adam–12 lacked the jocularity, personal life stories, flying cars, athletic adventures, and general cheesiness that peppered episodes of CHiPs. Like Dragnet, Adam–12 was based on real police cases, and played well in that era. Watching it now, it is clearly dated when compared to current law enforcement based entertainment endeavors, but is reminiscent of a simpler time in the world and on television.

Yes, some of the supporting characters were a bit much, and anyone who has taken the Universal Studios Tour will certainly recognize every exterior shot on the show, but by the second season Adam–12 had truly hit its stride. The writing was consistent, and like Dragnet; the thirty-minute format was perfect for the current television landscape.

It is rare that the launch of classic television show on DVD would actually have bonus material that is detrimental to the release as a whole, but the extras here are just incredibly weak and actually have little to do with Adam–12. Photos of historic law enforcement sites and training facilities used by real police officers would seem to have limited appeal, and added legal information to certain episodes in a format that should have been titled “Cop-up Video” is nothing more than a distraction. The worst of the bonus material are the episodes that include commentary by real officers who basically point out how things would be handled differently now, or the errors made in police procedure.

Recommendation: Despite the weak bonus material, this is just good television that will be appreciated by young and old alike. A great addition to all collections.