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February 24, 2009
Finding Amanda Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
None5/3/2009Eagle EntertainmentPeter Tolan
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MA15+Matthew Broderick

THE MOVIE
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Matthew Broderick and Brittney Snow star in Finding Amanda.

For years I have been a big fan of Matthew Broderick. Ever since I first saw War Games and soon after the classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where he plays one of the greatest characters of all time in my book, he's always managed to maintain some charm in his movies including some of the best such as Glory to some of the worst movies such as Godzilla. Finding Amanda is a new movie which hardly took in a dollar at the box office, but comes to Blu-Ray so we were keen to have a look.

Taylor Peters (Matthew Broderick) is a television writer for a failing sitcom. The gig isn't exactly satisfying work, but it's the only one he could get after a struggle with alcohol and substance abuse. His beautiful and supportive wife (Maura Tierney) has never left his side, but she's at her wits end when she thinks he's started betting on the horses again. When Taylor learns that his 18-year-old niece Amanda (Brittany Snow) is living in Las Vegas, working as a prostitute, he figures the best way to redeem himself with his wife is to go to Vegas and convince his niece to go to rehab, but a trip to Sin City is not exactly the best medicine for a recovering alcoholic with a gambling problem.

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Taylor Peters hits the casino!
With a budget of only $US3.9 million dollars according to the Q&A session in the extras it's clear that this isn't a big budget movie. In fact it's a low budget independent production. With that in mind there is actually a quite entertaining cast here including Matthew Broderick as the alcoholic gambling uncle, Brittney Snow as Amanda who is gorgeous, bubbly and quite wonderful to watch on screen, Maura Tierney as the tortured wife of Taylor, and the quite amusing Steve Coogan (Around the World in 80 Days, Tropic Thunder) as a casino pit boss.

Now I'm not going to jump up and down and proclaim as this as the greatest movie of all time - it doesn't even come close - but it is quite interesting, with some entertaining acting (Brittney Snow is superb while Matthew Broderick seems a little more 'wooden' then usual), and an engaging story. Some though may find the subject material a little off putting, and some may question some of the choices made. Why, for instance, would Taylor allow his niece to be picked up by another man in the hotel lobby for 'business' rather then persuade her to give up that 'job' to spend some time with or, at the very least, attempt to persuade her. At least my ultimate fear while watching the movie of some twisted uncle-niece relationship never materialises! The ending too is somewhat predictable, but suits the tone of the movie quite well and provided a satisfying conclusion.

Not one for youngsters, hence the MA15+ rating, Finding Amanda is still an enjoyable movie - probably aimed more towards a female audience - that gets a passing mark from us here at Futuregamez.net.

VIDEO
Finding Amanda is presented on Blu-Ray in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which fills the screen (the original theatrical version was in 1.85:1) at 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. The bitrate is often quite high - in the 30Mbps area according to the PS3 - and some of the scenes really do look quite impressive with a sharp, natural image on display. Given the extremely low budget nature of the movie some of the scenes look quite impressive, especially those taking place in the casino, or outdoor locations during daytime.

At times though, and particularly during the darker/nighttime scenes, there is a dramatic jump in the amount of grain in the image. One example is when Taylor and Amanda are walking along the road between 33:22 and 34:42. Even though the bitrate is above 30Mbps for the majority of the scene, pausing at any moment will demonstrate a quite terrible image quality. I would suggest this is a result of the actual on-set filming and equipment used rather then the transfer, but either way it's distracting.

AUDIO
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At the race track in Finding Amanda.

There is one single audio track on this disc, but fortunately we're not being short changed. In fact this disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and it really is impressive. The movie is dominated by dialogue, and this is crystal clear from start to finish. There are some moments of music which also sound wonderful while the use of surround sound channels is limited due to the nature of the movie.

There are no other languages on this disc but, more disappointingly, there are no subtitles either so if you're deaf, you'll want to give this movie a miss.

EXTRAS
There are a couple of extras on this disc, with the commentary being an absolute highlight...

Audio Commentary: Director Peter Tolan and star Matthew Broderick run with this audio commentary and it's quite entertaining. There are plenty of production and story details discussed and the two participants have a pretty good rapport together with plenty of laughs.

Tribeca Film Festival Q&A (14:31): A Q&A session with the director and two stars of the movie with questions from the audience. It's fairly interesting, with the most interesting news being that the movie is based on some of the directors personal experiences and issues.

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Trying to deal with a cop.
Image Gallery: 26 images are presented here. Unfortunately many are almost identical but taken only seconds apart. Still, some nice shots here.

Trailers (11:21): Trailers for The Lost, Phantom Punch, Far North, Emotional Arithmetic, and Forever Strong. Sadly these are only presented in Standard Definition which is a shame with some due for release on Blu-Ray in the near future.

OVERALL
Finding Amanda is an enjoyable movie that deserved to do better then the paltry America box office suggests. The transfer here is acceptable, and the commentary quite entertaining. If you're a fan of Matthew Broderick or Brittany Snow then you should probably check this movie out when it hits rental in late February, and retail in early March.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
6/10
THE VIDEO
6/10
THE AUDIO
7.5/10
THE EXTRAS
4/10
OVERALL
6/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Eagle Entertainment. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.