The Darwin Awards – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Written and Directed by:
Finn Taylor

Cast:
Joseph Fiennes Michael Burrows
Winona Ryder Siri
Wilmer Valderrama Documentary Filmmaker
David Arquette Harvey
Chris Penn Tom
Judah Friedlander Simon
Lukas Haas Farley

The Film:

The Darwin Awards is a humorous (fake) award given to stupid people who accidentally kill themselves or sterilize themselves – which is rare, but still happens. The belief behind the Darwin Awards is that those people are doing mankind a favor by ridding the world from their genes. Too bad this doesn’t happen fast enough.

The Darwin Awards deals with some of those people, but in a roundabout way. Joseph Fiennes plays Michael Burrows, a former cop who applies for a job with an insurance company. His hook — he wants to study Darwin Awards cases in order to find their common trait, so the insurance company will know who to avoid. As a tryout he’s being paired with Siri (Winona Ryder), an investigator for the company. The cases they follow during this tryout month take them all over America in pursuit of some worthy Darwin Awards winners — a guy who accidentally jumps from a high-riser, someone who was crushed by a vending machine, the creator of the first home-made rocket car and others.

But just like any good road movie, the journey he takes leads him also within himself. As the movie progresses we learn that Michael is not so different than the cases he studies. I his quest to lead the safest life possible and protect himself from every possibility, he accidentally almost finds his own death in one of the most bizarre, yet funny, shower scenes I’ve ever seen.

The first thing you should know about The Darwin Awards is that it’s a very funny movie. Most of the case stories are hilarious – wait for the stoners story, it will make you laugh out loud, as will the British couple. But it is also a touching story. It’s a story of personal discovery and growth.

The filmmaker took an interesting approach by giving the film a documentary-like approach. Michael and Siri are accompanied throughout the movie by a young documentary filmmaker (Wilmer Valderama) and we see large parts of the story through his camera. This also allows the characters to express themselves directly and it replaces the narration, which is sometimes used in movies and seems forced.

Movies like The Darwin Awards are one of the best things in writing this column. It gives me the opportunity to experience good movies that were just overlooked when they were in theatres or didn’t even have a theatrical release where I live. There are so many movies like this that many people just don’t hear about. But this is a good movie and you should give it arty, at least rent it from your video store or on-line service. It’s worth it.

Audio/Video:

Nothing to complain about. I think that all new movies get a good AV transfer these days, which isn’t a big deal, as their originally shot with the DVD in mind.

The Extras:
This release really lacks in this department. We get a very short behind the scenes featurette (less than 10 minutes long) and a series of cast interviews, some of them recycled from the featurette. I think the producers could have done more with it, and I’d love to see some featurettes about the origins of The Darwin Awards, as well as documentation of some of the more notable real life stories who won these awards.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Darwin Awards
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

5
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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