The Professor (Blu-ray Review)

Movies about how life can be thrown into a tailspin are always interesting to me. The changes don’t have to be monumental, but when they are you are consistently drawn in to the story more. I went into my viewing of The Professor with a small tinge of doubt right out of the gate. To be honest, I had never heard of the film prior to receiving it, and the title gives little hope you’ll be seeing something promising.

I was even so close minded at first to think that Johnny Depp would be the only saving grace. To say I was misinformed in my pre-watch judgments is a silly understatement. Let’s go more in depth on The Professor which is available in stores July 9th!



The Professor opens with Richard (Johnny Depp) receiving the bad news from his doctor — He has terminal cancer and with treatment will fight through another year of life. The news is sobering to Richard and certainly to the viewer. This is not a spoiler mind you, but exactly how the film plays out from the first frame. We are in on what’s going to happen from the start, yet we are drawn right in immediately. Richard goes home and wants to tell the news to his distant wife Veronica (RoseMarie DeWitt) and teenage daughter Olivia (Odessa Young). They seem preoccupied themselves. The family is the epitome of dysfunctional. The reveal doesn’t go to plan and Richard learns that his daughter is a lesbian and his wife has been cheating on him with his boss, mainly because, according to Veronica, Richard is an asshole.

Moments like this pop up within the film often. You feel badly for Richard not being able to say what’s needed, and yet the exchanges between him and his family are interesting, sometimes scandalous and always well performed. After the non-explanation of his cancer, Richard decides to not tel his family, and reveals his diagnosis to his friend and colleague Peter (Danny Huston). Peter has such compassion that he immediately asks what the plans are for the treatments and wants to help. Richard says he doesn’t want to seek treatment and plans to just live his life, much to the shock of his friend.

What plays out from there is a mash-up of comedy and drama. Richard really truly does begin to live following his declaration to do so. The class Richard teaches at the university is still something he enjoys but now that his time is precious, he makes a declaration — if you aren’t here to learn, to truly try or aren’t together enough to leave the house in real clothes (No sweat pants allowed!!) then you’re not welcome. The class that’s left after the declaration shows a lot of dedication and we are instantly drawn to the story arc that features him bonding with the people that have chosen to learn from him with all they’ve got.

More bonding happens throughout the film as well. Richard and Veronica somehow make their failed marriage into a friendship — they like to get drunk and have a laugh, revealing respect and still some admiration. Richard also reaches out to his daughter and wants to know how her relationships are going and how she feels about her recent revelation of her sexuality. Richard also bonds with some of his students and has a few off the wall experiences that immediately draw some large laughs. More revelations are revealed through each phase of the film, which presents these phases by placing chapter titles between each change (sort of like Pulp Fiction, but the story isn’t disjointed like Pulp). By the time we reach the final chapter, Richard has come to terms with his diagnosis, has lived dangerously, and has some sage wisdom for those people in his life.

As I said in the opening of this review, I had low expectations going into this film. Seeing that it was a release for DirecTV and reading some reviews of the film online, I wasn’t super enthusiastic. I had never heard of the director, Wayne Roberts either. I did however become interested seeing the cast assembled for this movie. Watching it with no reservations do the quality, I found myself immediately enjoying the film. I cared about Richard because he seemed like a decent enough man who’d been going through what seemed like a midlife crisis. His death sentence became a reason to live again and made him appreciate what time he had left. While the movie is far from flawless (the screenplay appears to have borrowed from a few movies, not in a plagiarized way, but stylistically… I see shades of Dead Poet’s Society, and I see the biting humor of a movie like Bad Words here and there as well. The drama plays out well but not too heavy and the performances of even the smallest parts are played well also.

Overall, I think this one is worth a watch. The film isn’t as hard to swallow as the basic plot may make it seem. Johnny Depp as usual elevates the material and his cast mates are also noteworthy. There are a few sweet moments and quite a few laughs along the way. You may even get the feels for a moment or two as well. If you enjoy strong dramedies with excellent acting, you’ll be very pleased with this one!


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: The Professor has a nice clean image overall. The look is that of a movie shot digitally, so clarity is on par with most modern releases. The movie does tend to be a little dark so some detail does get lost in those darker moments.

Depth: Depth is admirable on this release. You won’t see a loss in the depth but this is not a movie filmed to have images pop off the screen. The shots on the college campus are the ones that I found to be most pleasing in the depth department.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep throughout. This movie was clearly shot digitally and the black levels show that as a strength. There are no grey blacks to be seen in this film.

Color Reproduction: Colors are a little on the drab side for this movie. It seems to have been shot intentionally dark and the color palette is muted, save for some scenes in the courtyard areas of the college. In those moments, the pops of green are a welcome addition to the more muted browns and blacks we see. Nothing looks inaccurate here at all, but colors are often darker than I think they’d normally be.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones appear natural overall, even with the darker look of the film. No people look artificial at all.

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Dynamics are fine for a movie of this type. There isn’t a huge difference in loudness from sound effects and dialogue. This isn’t the movie you’d want to demo a setup for, but the dynamics hold up perfectly well overall.

Low Frequency Extension: Music is the main source for subwoofer moments. Even then, the low end is used sparingly.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surrounds are also used very sparingly here. You hear background noise and ambient natural sounds in those channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: As the film is dialogue heavy, this is where the audio track shines. Dialogue is loud and clear, front and center overall. This is the best part of the track by far.


Extras are slim on this release. The release does ship with a slipcover and a digital code for the film inside. The extra on the disc is as follows:

  • Death and How To Live It: The Making of The Professor (15:36) — This is a little more than your standard EPK but it is also pretty short. This is one of those featurettes that accompany most movies that usually don’t get watched. We see a little bit of everything, however we don’t see much at all…


The Professor ends up being quite profound. The movie hits the right notes for comedy and the right moments of drama as well. The film begins in a sort of cynical way as the characters are all ice cold in the beginning. As the movie unfolds we peel back onion layers of content. People change, opinions differ, and life is lived. I had a good time with this film and fans of the comedy/drama will find something to like as well!



The Professor Blu-ray

  1. No Comments