Monday, October 17, 2011
I want to live inside the Everything Must Go DVD menu
You can tell what the studio thinks of a movie based on how much care they put into its DVD menu.
Either that, or you can tell the age of the movie.
A lot of older movies, and some new ones, have a static DVD menu screen. Nothing moving, music optional. No music and you know you're really in trouble. It means they knew a DVD pressing was required for this movie, but they just threw it out there less than half-heartedly. In some really older releases, the menu won't even come up at the start -- they'll just launch right into the film. You only get the menu if you hit stop at some point later on.
It isn't necessarily something that should speak to the quality of the movie, at least not too much. But it sort of does, and this works both ways. Under the right circumstances, it can really prepare you for something special.
Like last night, when we watched the Will Ferrell dramedy Everything Must Go.
My wife and I both ended up really liking the movie, but before we had a chance to pass judgment on it, the DVD menu had already put us in the right frame of mind.
Here, take a gander and then we'll discuss. If you listen carefully, you can hear my son babbling in the background:
Maybe it's the kid in us that used to love making forts, but isn't there just something so lovely about this arrangement of furniture in the man's yard, that he's basically living in? It's not telling you too much to say that Ferrell's character is incredibly down on his luck -- in what is probably a scenario that only happens in the movies, he loses his job and his wife leaves him in the same day. She doesn't just leave him -- she throws his stuff out on the lawn, changes all the locks, and then leaves. Oh, and she puts a stop on their joint bank account, his cell phone, etc. Sound like a first-class beyotch? Don't judge too quickly -- she may have her reasons.
So Ferrelly's Nick Halsey must -- or at least chooses to -- live among his lawn ornaments, which just so happen to spend their time indoors in most normal scenarios.
The DVD menu captures the essence of the movie perfectly. It's not a comedy, but it's not as heavy as you might expect for a drama -- probably not such a surprise, since it stars Will Ferrell. It's a dramatic turn for Ferrell, but it's not like he's playing some junkie who murdered somebody. He's an alcoholic who demonstrates generally poor judgment, but he's probably not a bad person. The light, wistful music prepares you perfectly for the tone you're about to get.
And there's something so lovely about the two-dimensional cut-outs of the characters moving in and around Nick's makeshift residence. It gives the world created in the DVD menu a certain vibrancy and dimension, while still keeping it simple and sort of child-like.
But what I think I like most is that the time of day changes. It's not like that's some earth-shattering development in DVD menu screen technology, but it does lend to the notion that there's a little world being created here on Nick's lawn, which has its routines depending on the time of day. I think I liked this aspect because it reminded me of the theme on my gmail account, which features a Japanese fox character tending to his home and Japanese garden. The background shifts every two hours to a different activity and different time of the day, which is in sync with the local time wherever you're gmailing.
You could sit and watch the DVD menu go around a couple times -- Lord knows we did -- but I think you'll find the movie to your liking as well, once you finally hit PLAY.