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Maggie’s Plan (Blu-ray Review)

maggie's plan coverMaggie’s Plan is a modern screwball romantic comedy that deals with another neurotic Greta Gerwig character. Gerwig is the central character of the film and this comedy directed and written by Rebecca Miller certainly wants you to invest in her. It plays as a film about intellectuals, but does nothing but show how incapable these people are at being great at relationships. That said it features a terrific supporting cast including Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Travis Fimmel. Now the film is on Blu-ray for people curious about this plan of Maggie’s.

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Film:

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Set in New York, Gerwig’s Maggie is an independent woman who wants to become a single mother. This means planning to inseminate herself with the help of a former college acquaintance played by constantly glassy-eyed Fimmel. While this plan is in progress and Maggie finds support from her best friends, a married couple played by Hader and Rudolph, things take a turn. Maggie finds herself befriending a “ficto-critical anthropologist”, John (Hawke) and eventually marrying him. This meant John had to break off his marriage from Georgette (Moore), the mother to his children and a very busy Columbia professor. Time goes by though and Maggie realizes she may not be in love with John anymore, deciding it may be best to get him back with his ex-wife.

There is a loony quality to the story that some may not expect. While there are good actors here, completely capable of serious performances, this does boil down to a screwball comedy plot. It calls to mind some classics from the 40s and 50s, but doesn’t escape without feeling similar to something Woody Allen could have come up with. There is even some Shakespearean qualities to how this story plays, which is a credit to Miller’s writing.

Again, though, this movie is kind of silly. Just look at Hawke’s profession – a ficto-critical anthropologist. That’s pretty quirky right there, but then you add in Fimmel, who plays the proprietor of a pickle operation and Moore’s Georgette, who has a broad Dutch accent and the movie develops an identity that makes it stand out.

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Maggie’s Plan does feature a number of solid elements, namely the cast. As deliberately quirky as the film seems to be playing at, the actors are all doing their jobs appropriately. Gerwig’s sensibilities continue to be unique to her own and that may or may not work for different viewers. Hawke does fine here, though I’ve certainly gotten more accustomed to seeing him in more genre fair and dramas. Moore seems like a wild car, bound to divide people. She commits to her accent and mannerisms, which is not unexpected. Really, the best stuff comes from Rudolph, Hader and the very sympathetic and genuinely nice Fimmel character.

What sets the film back a bit is how the story moves along. While the film tells a particular story, there are some questionable elements that make you wonder how much one is supposed to enjoy all the scheming. The humor comes through, but looking at a bunch of seemingly well off people deal with privileged positions involving their marriages and children can only go so far sometimes. Perhaps it comes down to Maggie’s wishy-washy motivations for doing things and wanting to still like her, but the film feels like it misses a mark when it comes to being more likable.

While not without its charm, Maggie’s Plan is a bit of a miss. The cast is mostly solid and the film has some clever writing, but nothing helps the film stand out all that much. It is what qualifies as a New York movie for those who like the adult lives of decent people with successful lives trying to figure stuff out. Some aspects work better than others, but not a film pressing for too much attention.

 

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: Maggie’s Plan seems to utilize a lot of natural light and incorporate the city of New York quite well for a video presentation.  The level of detail is very pleasing throughout, with a number of nicely presented surfaces, costumes, and other elements that come through just fine.

Depth: Depth is pretty great for what the film is.  A sense of space is noticeable in this fairly low-key neighborhood story.

Black Levels: Black levels are never bothersome. They register nicely.

Color Reproduction: The wintery time frame tends to keep the colors fairly muted in all of this. As a result, colors never really pop all that much, despite some key costume choices for some characters at various points.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones always have the right amount of detail and texture to make for a pleasing experience.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing spotted.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Enslish – Audio Description Track, Russian VO, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, English, Chinese, French, Russian, Thai

Dynamics: The lossless soundtrack is nice, but given what this film is, there is not a whole lot that really challenges a sound system.  That in mind, the sound presentation is fine here.

Low Frequency Extension: No crucial moments, but background music has some bass work to offer the LFE Channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: Given that the more spread apart sound moments are based in mood, a fine job is done with the balance, even if there is not a ton of audio factors to keep track of.

Dialogue Reproduction: The most crucial part of this film and dialogue registers loud and clear throughout.

Extras:

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While the making-of is not the most in-depth look at the film, there is a decent collection of extras present for a fairly small-scale feature.

Features Include:

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Rebecca Miller
  • Controlling Fate: Making Maggie’s Plan (HD, 15:52) – A fairly standard EPK, featuring cast and crew interviews and delving into the origins of the story.
  • Outtakes (HD, 7:21) – A lot of good stuff with Hader and Rudolph.
  • Q&A At Sundance Film Festival (HD, 11:29)
  • Trailers (HD)
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film

Summary: 

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Maggie’s Plan is not entirely unremarkable, but it does seem to have a bit of an issue with being more likable. I like this cast and find it a bit of a shame to praise the quirkier elements more than the depth that should come with them. The film is written well enough in terms of the dialogue and the Blu-ray is mostly average in quality, but this isn’t one to rush out and find.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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