Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
On the one hand, the cover for Pretty bird seems a bit cheap, with hand drawn silhouettes of the 3 main characters as their rocket belts, again seemingly drawn by an amateur, flies off into the sky. With photos of the main characters across the middle of the blue skyline, it just seems to be thrown together, but at the same time, it kind of works. It is a strange little cover, but I thought it was pretty neat.
The menu utilizes the same color scheme, and it is static, without the charm of the cover.
- None – You read correctly – there are no extras included. It seems that Paramount sat on this movie for a few years before releasing it straight on DVD (not even blu-ray), and they apparently decided to curtail any expense on the release. There are a few previews of other Paramount movies, but I don’t really find those to be extras.
The Movie: /10
Pretty Bird is a movie about a rocket belt and its design, and while the story is loosely based on real events, they tell you right up front that this is fiction. Billy Crudup plays Curtis Prentiss, who is portrayed as somewhat of a dreamer, and somewhat of a schemer as he puts together a company based on blueprints that he has mysteriously acquired for a rocket belt. Crudup is at times likeable, and a minute later loathsome, as he winds his way through the movie manipulating either himself, or those who he wants something from.
He hits up his old friend Kenny (David Hornsby), who has a successful mattress business for money, and then acquires out of work rocket engineer Rick Honeycutt (Paul Giamatti) who will be the brains behind the operation, at least in terms of design. Prentiss lies and says he too is a scientist, and presents the business as several different things to several different people, all in an effort to get his way and make it big, which apparently is the only thing that Prentiss is concerned about. Crudup does a good job of playing Prentiss as a borderline likeable guy, who seems to have just enough intelligence and charisma to make him dangerous.
Honeycutt, played brilliantly by Paul Giamatti, is an out of work, dour character who sees Prentiss for what he is, and becomes concerned that he is being forced out, even though he is the one who has taken the schematics, added his own touch, and made the rocket belt actually work. His paranoia, at times questioned by the viewer, and then fully supported, is difficult to watch, as is a lot of this movie.
Pretty bird struggles to really delve into the characters, leaving the viewer to come up with their own opinion, which is fine, to a point. A good example is Kristen Wiig, who plays Mandy Riddle, who works at Kennys mattress shop. She is admired by Prentiss, and just when a relationship begins to develop, she is basically dropped from the movie. It is both bizarre and somewhat maddening, and leaves you wondering why bother with the character in the first place?
There are just too many unanswered questions that left me feeling almost cheated. Add to that a very abrupt ending, and it just made watching Pretty Bird less than what I think it could have been. While there is some good acting here, the movie just lacked something.
Audio & Video: 6/10
For a standard DVD, there seemed to be a lot of grit here, with what at times were weird skin tones of orange and pink. It just seemed to me to be a bit off at times. Granted, this is not a high definition release, and the grain seems intentional to point, but overall I was not overly blown away by the video.
The audio was nice, if not a bit sparse on the use of the rear speakers. There is not a lot of bass or a ton of music, so this is a very dialogue driven movie, and it is handled quite well.
Pretty Bird is a difficult movie to watch and work with. The DVD release seems too sparse and stripped down, like the movie itself, and the whole thing just leaves the viewer wanting more. The story ends abruptly, the characters are only partially developed and explained, and the DVD itself just seems to be wanting. While there is some great acting here, it is just not enough to make this worth the watch.
Overall Score 5/10