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Old 02-17-2008, 04:24 PM
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Default Idle Hands



Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: February 17, 2008

Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: 8/31/1999
MSRP: $9.95
NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1



Idle Hands was released theatrically in 1999 and quickly became a box office bomb. Made on a $20 million budget, the film grossed only $4 million in the US. The film is full of stars that many of us know - Seth Green (Family Guy, Austin Powers), Devon Sawa (Final Destination), Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four, Dark Angel), Vivica Fox (Independence Day). While star power may not have made Idle Hands a hit, horror fans are all to familiar with the fact that being a box office bomb doesn't make it a bad movie. Army of Darkness and The Thing are two examples of box office failures that went on to be huge successes in the home video market. Will Idle Hands have the same fate? More importantly, does it deserve to have the same fate? Lets take a look and find out.

The Story

Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa) is a typical lazy teenager. His idea of the perfect life is to sit in front of the TV all day and smoke pot. When he runs out of pot to smoke, Anton calls his buddies Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson), both of whom are living the same teenage dream. When Anton goes next door to visit the two, they inform him that a murderer is on the loose in their town. Anton doesn't pay much attention to this, though. He's more concerned with his ongoing obsession with Molly (Jessica Alba), his beautiful next door neighbor that he's been in love with since childhood. He hasn't been able to work up the courage to talk to her. He gets an opportunity to score some points when he sees her drop her lyrics book, but he again fails to work up his courage.

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When Anton returns home, he discovers that his parents have been murdered. Mick and Pnub show up shortly after, finding a clue that leads them to believe Anton may be the killer. The discovery proves fatal for the pair and they soon end up as the living dead. Anton has become possessed by a demonic spirit and it begins taking control of his hand. During his struggle to regain control, he ends up at Molly's front door. She invites him in and the possessed hand manages to get him further with Molly in five minutes than he has ever able to do on his own.

Nearby, Debi LeCure (Vivica A. Fox) - a Druid priestess - arrives in Anton's town seeking out an evil force that possesses the "laziest fuckup it can find". She is sworn to fight this evil force and believes it is behind the string of murders. Debi meets up with Randy (Jack Noseworthy), Anton's next door neighbor, at the local bowling alley. Randy tells her about Anton's claim of a possessed hand. She insists that Randy bring her to Anton immediately.

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Anton, with the help of his zombie buddies, tries to rid himself of the possessed hand. They have some success after severing the hand, but he'll soon find out the possessed hand is not so easily disposed of. When Molly shows up for their date to a costume dance, Anton leaves his buddies behind and heads out to the school. The possessed hand is right behind the two and creates a trail of bodies along the way. Debi, Randy, Mick, and Pnub all head to the dance where they must confront the hand before it can fulfill its ultimate goal of sacrificing Molly and taking her into the Netherworld.

Here's a review that is about seven years overdue. I remember seeing Idle Hands back in 2000 and being disappointed it didn't get more attention from the online horror community. I swore to myself I would review it on the site in hopes of getting it some much deserved attention, or perhaps just a few new fans. While it isn't the cult classic that Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness might be, Idle Hands is certainly a lost gem in the world of horror comedies.

The story in Idle Hands is a bit convoluted. The whole premise behind the ancient spirit possessing lazy people, druid cults, and some nonsense about the Netherworld is easily forgotten. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until I wrote this review that I actually had to sit down, watch the movie and try to figure out what the whole story was about; I could not have done it from memory alone. Now that I know what it's about, I can say with confidence that it is best left forgotten. It's the type of movie where the story is simply filler for everything else happening in between. Toss the story out and you're left with some hilarious characters, top notch effects, ample helpings of gore, creative killings, and countless homages to several classic horror movies. Where else are you going to find: a cat toss, a broken beer bottle to the forehead, fingers being sharpened in an electric pencil sharpener, a microwaved hand, a severed head trying to catch cheesy puffs, and a taser to the face all in the same package? So yeah, even with a forgettable story, it's everything else that makes Idle Hands so great.

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Devon Sawa rates up there with Bruce Campbell in regards to his convincing performance with the possessed hand. You truly see it as a separate entity thanks to Sawa's acting talents. Seth Green and Elden Henson were born to play the roles of Anton's stoner buddies. Vivica Fox even manages to maintain some dignity as she tries to pull off a convincing performance of such a ridiculous character. Jessica Alba, while easy on the eyes, proves to be the weak link, giving a subpar performance that reeks of being there simply for a paycheck. It was an early performance for her and I have no doubt I've hit the nail on the head.

Director Rodman Flender doesn't have much on his resume and Idle Hands may end up being his magnum opus, but that's nothing to be ashamed of. The only shame is in the movie not getting the attention it deserves. If you know what you're getting into, your bound to have a blast with Idle Hands. Highly recommended.

Image Quality

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Columbia presents Idle Hands in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 that is 16x9 enhanced. A P&S version is also available on side B. Unfortunately for fans, Columbia released this as a single-layered, dual-sided DVD. While the transfer is solid overall, it does show some signs of age, even on my meager 45" 16x9 television. The image does have a tendency to be on the soft side in some scenes. It goes without saying that as larger TVs become the norm, the loss of detail on the DVD will be even greater. This would be less so had the disc been dual-layered and given a higher bitrate. I'm happy to report that no MPEG artifacts were present and the colors do remain strong and vibrant throughout the presentation.

Sound

Sony included a great Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the DVD. Both the surrounds and LFE are active throughout much of the film. Between the various action scenes and during the countless songs (including a school dance featuring The Offspring), the track really delivers.

Supplemental Material

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It's far from a full blown special edition, but Columbia did a nice job including some enjoyable extras. First up is the commentary track with director Rodman Flender and cast members Seth Green and Elden Henson. From the get go you can tells these guys got along great and had a lot of fun making making the movie. Director Flender is clearly a horror fan as he points out the countless homages to various classic horror (domestic and foreign) he included. Seth and Elden do a good job keeping the track humorous. A lot of tidbits are shared; while they don't go as far to comment directly on Alba, you get hints that she was real difficult to work with. Not much of a surprise there, I suppose.

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Next is a making-of featurette that runs just shy of six minutes. It's the typical promotional fluff piece. Besides a few brief interviews, it doesn't include anything of interest. Next is a deleted scene featuring optional director commentary; it's basically an alternate scene leading up to the closing scene in the hospital. Wrapping up the supplements are production notes, theatrical trailers, storyboard comparisons, and talent files.

Final Thoughts

Even though Idle Hands tanked at the box office, you have to give Columbia credit for a good audio/video presentation on the DVD and topping it off with some enjoyable extras. The DVD is several years old and was unfortunately released single-layered, but it only shows minimal signs of age. We can only hope that Columbia will someday release it onto Blu-Ray. I still highly recommend the DVD; it's a steal at $9.99. As for the movie, most horror fans will enjoy it if they go in thinking of it as a comedy and not paying too much attention to the story. Don't let this one pass you by.

Rating

Movie - B-
Image Quality - B+
Sound - A-
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 32 minutes
  • Rated R
  • Dolby 5.1
  • Dolby Surround 2.0
  • Chapter Stops
  • English subtitles

Supplements
  • Director & cast commentary
  • Deleted scene with director introduction and commentary
  • Making-of featurette
  • Production notes
  • Trailers
  • Storyboard comparisons
  • Talent files

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Old 02-17-2008, 08:25 PM
It would be a steal at $9.99 if it was in fact the same version that Dave here is reviewing.

In 2002 (or 2003) Sony discontinued this release and quietly replaced this with a single-sided Pan & Scan only release. They did this with some other films as well, including Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Gattaca and Spice World to name a few.

That said, Dave is correct in everything he says in this review. It's an awesome movie. Just make sure you pay attention for it in the used rack.
 
 
Old 02-17-2008, 09:13 PM
For Your Health
I used to own this and sold it years ago. Now I wish I hadn't. After reading the review, I was going to go buy it again and revisit it until I read Noto's comment. Stupid DVD companies. Thanks for the heads up and also for the great review!
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:03 PM
Sure did, Dave. It took me forever to find a copy.
 
 
Old 02-17-2008, 11:36 PM
Pimp
So does this go for a mint on ebay?

Looks like some of the imports are still 16x9. Definitely the R2 PAL. Still trying to find out on the Canadian version.
 
 
Old 02-18-2008, 01:36 AM
The Eighth Samurai
Jessica Alba's ass should be mentioned on the front cover of this, as it's really the star of the film
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Old 02-19-2008, 01:06 AM
Moderator
Wait, Noto...no widescreen SPICE WORLD? The horror!
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:22 AM
Oh, don't you worry yet. Unlike Idle Hands, Sony has realized that there is a huge market for Spice World, thus they've rereleased it with a glitter-tastic new cover in full anamorphic glory.

I still have both copies.
 
 
Old 02-24-2008, 07:15 PM
Detroit Hi-on
I am a happy owner of the old version, although I don't think the old discs are super-scarce or anything. I see them time to time at Gamestop for $5-6. I doubt they go for much more than $10-15 on ebay.

There's dozens of other movies that got the same shaft disc-wise that this did, but almost all of them are easy to find in secondary market for reasonable prices. The only one I saw go for big bucks was Sheena (who knows why, but one sold for around $40 on ebay). Of course next week I decided I wanted Sheena in ws, found another ebay listing, made sure it was the old version by asking the seller, and got it for $8.
Same thing happened with The Deep, although the first one I saw sell was around $25. I nabbed one with the re-issue cover but still dual-sided for $6.
Funny I spent a couple weeks looking for a ws version of The Fan, finally finding one at Gamestop. Now, ever since I bougt my copy, there has been 2-3 copies in each Gamestop in town, everytime I go in.
I think the only one I'm missing now is Money Train. I passed on that at GS one day as they had both the old and new discs. The next day I went back and only the new version was there, and has been ever since.
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