The Lather Effect – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

When the children of the 80’s were growing up, they had movies that mirrored what they were going through. The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sixteen Candles and Say Anything…. amongst others. But they’re all grown up. Now what? The Lather Effect tries to fill that void and reconnect with the generation that was raised in the Age of Excess giving them a movie to relate to again.

A group of high school friends reunites for a nostalgic 80’s rave party. When they wake up the next morning hung-over and still feeling nostalgic, they decide to extend their visit for one more night. The hosts of the party are trying to sell their house and need all the help they can get to clean it up after the wild party the night before. Throughout the course of the day, they all discuss various situations from their past and find some of these situations are still unresolved.

The cast in this movie is a lot of fun. There are some recognizable faces like Ione Skye (Say Anything…), Tate Donovan (the voice of Disney’s Hercules, SpaceCamp), Eric Stoltz (Say Anything…, Singles), Peter Facinelli (representing the newer generation of teen comedies with Can’t Hardly Wait) and some not-so-recognizable ones, such as Connie Britton ofthe TV show Friday Night Lights, Sarah Clarke of 24, and Caitlin Keats. The cast works best as an ensemble, but that still sounds too nice. They never looked like they were comfortable around each other. Everything looked way too forced for a group of friends who have supposedly known each other for years. Of all of them, the two best performances were given by Connie Britton who plays Valinda, the host of the party and the most conflicted in the group, and by Eric Stoltz, who plays Mickey, a party guru who was never really friends with anyone and just crashed the party. Ironically, he’s the one who has the best advice and seems to be the most comfortable throughout the film.

Given that this is writer/director Sarah Kelley’s freshman effort, the film is quite good. The script tries to tackle quite a bit and, even though it mostly fails, she should still get some credit for trying. It is sweet and fun, but there is still much room for improvement. The “This is the greatest song ever!” bit gets very old by the end of the movie and there is the cliché explaining the title of the film bit as well.

The movie also boasts an awesome 80’s soundtrack. While it is awesome, it’s nothing you haven’t already heard a bazillion times before: “Take On Me” by A-ha, “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister, “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol, “Blister In The Sun” by the Violent Femmes. The music adds energy to the film, but you won’t hear anything new.

Like I said, this is a great first film for Ms. Kelley. Every filmmaker trying to start out would love to be able to say that this was their first film. Otherwise, the film has slipped under the radar and will probably sink into DVD oblivion. I really wish I could tell you to go out and watch this movie, that you’d be missing out if you didn’t see it, but I can’t. It’s just an average movie with a really bad title.

This DVD is presented in a standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digitial sound. To be honest, there is nothing spectacular about the sound or the visuals.

Making of the Lather Effect – A really long, but very sweet making of. This was obviously a labor of love for the first time writer/director. It seems like the cast and crew had a better time off camera than the final film shows.

The Cameron Effect – Where Ms. Kelley talks about her obsession with Cameron Crowe and teases about him making a possible visit to the set.

The Importance of Being an Ernest PA – Where Ms. Kelley talks about her past experiences as a production assistant and how it has helped her form her new career as a director.

Audio Commentary with writer/director Sarah Kelley, editor Darren Ayres, and associate producer/actor Eric Stoltz – A nice laid back commentary that provides some fun facts about the film, but the information isn’t really all that useful. Honestly? It dragged after awhile.

PreviewsThe Grand, Sex and Death 101

The Lather Effect isn’t going to go in any Best Of lists, but it is an ambitious first effort. While it won’t take the place of the John Hughes and Cameron Crowe films before it, The Lather Effect does a good job trying to add on to them.

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Anchor Bay presents The Lather Effect. Directed by Sarah Kelley. Starring Eric Stoltz, Ione Skye, Peter Facinelli. Written by Sarah Kelley. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated Unrated. Released on DVD: May 27, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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