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The ritual that is “Schoolies Week” takes place after school breaks on the shores of sunny Queensland, Australia. It is here that Year 12 school leavers gather for a mixture of surf, sex and copious amounts of alcohol, often with disastrous yet memorable consequences. Thousands of school-free teenagers flock to the beaches of the Gold Coast, much to the chagrin of local residents as the area is transformed into a giant mosh pit complete with drunken kids, half-naked (sometimes completely naked) antics and often a large representation from the police.

Blurred uses the Schoolies phenomenon as the subject of this road movie-cum-teen comedy that looks at a group of teenagers making their way to Queensland. A different sort of subject suggests the film could really provide a fresh take on the current teen movie market, but does it live up to the expectations? Read on.

The Holden Boys

Movie
The film is actually derived from a stage play but is livened up by the ability to put the characters into a variety of locations rather than try and work within the constraints of a squarish stage. First-time Director Evan Clarry has decided to base the action around the actual journey to the Gold Coast rather than the events that unfold while they’re there, which may or may not work depending on your viewpoint. But more on that later.

We begin with the penultimate scene from the movie through the eyes of a television news crew’s camera, which I dare say is becoming far too prevalent in recent films in a seemingly lazy attempt to do something different with the narrative. All that happens now is that these “switcheroo” opening sequences smack of being just one big copout where the writers and director can’t think of anything else to jazz up the opening (and closing) moments of the film.

After this rather unnecessary sequence (save for a bit of humour) we see the pure joy on the faces of the students as school breaks for the last time in their lives, the reality of their newly acquired freedom hitting home. The rather slick opening credits sequence helps to get the audience in the mood to watch a bit of teenage angst on display, and for the most part the film delivers. We are introduced to a bunch of characters, all making their way to the Gold Coast through various modes of transportation.

There’s Pete, Danny and Lynette the “Bus Nerds”, who run into a large amount of trouble rather quickly, including being kicked off their only avenue to Queensland and struggling through some previously unearthed romantic issues between a couple of them. Then there’s Calvin and Wayne the “Holden Boys”, who become the “walking boys” after their car runs erratically off the road. Also making their way to teenage mecca are Yolanda and Amanda the “Limo Girls” as well as their driver named Mason. These upper-class school leavers fumble their way to their hotel where bookish friend Freda awaits rather nervously, running into some troubles of her own with a rather rowdy bunch of party-goers in the room above. Rounding out this rather rag-tag bunch of teens is Bradley and Jillian, a lovely couple who fall out when Bradley wants to break up just for Schoolies Week. You can tell we’re going to have a bit of fun with this lot.

The Limo Girls

While some often say of Schoolies Week that half the fun is actually getting there, where this film falls down is that it neglects that the other half of the festivities is actually being there. We miss out on some potentially great moments of social commentary because of the film’s rather abrupt (and trite) ending. Where are the extended antics in the hotel rooms? The pathetic attempts at gaining entry into nightclubs while underage or the laughable pickup attempts by over-zealous teenage boys? The relatively short running time means you certainly won’t get bored but you may well feel a little hollow when the kids have just arrived at their destination.

There’s still some great stuff in here, though, particularly the banter between Calvin and Wayne. Mark Priestley was supposed to do an audition with another bloke but when he didn’t show Travis Cotton demanded he read with his best mate. Thankfully the director saw their undeniable rapport and stuck them together for their big screen debuts.

If you’re into teen movies and are looking for something slightly different then this one’s for you. While half of the film is basically neglected there’s still enough in it to provide a few laughs here and there. A good ensemble performance and a good juggling act between the respective groups make this one at least somewhat enjoyable.

Video
The transfer for this film, presented in 1.78:1, looks great as the bright colours and varying landscapes come up a treat. Sharpness is maintained throughout and the print is free from any defects so you’ll be permanently glued to the action rather than being distracted from any nasties amongst the transfer. The film was presented in 1.85:1 during its theatrical run which suggests some slight cropping has occurred unfortunately, but most viewers will struggle to notice.

It must be mentioned, too, that the menus on the disc are quite good and at least provide a slightly different visual structure when compared to the majority of the recent releases. In all this is a pretty good transfer.

The Bus Trio

Audio
The film comes with three soundtracks, with the DTS track marginally better than the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a stereo track thrown in for those not so well equipped. Surround use is surprisingly good considering the film doesn’t lend itself to many creative effects shooting around the rears. What we do get is a good mixture of ambient sound and effects from the rears as well as some use of the front channels to place the dialogue correctly, coupled with a rocking home-grown soundtrack featuring the likes of 28 Days, Grinspoon and Spiderbait. The DTS mix comes into it’s own here, pumping out the tracks far better than the 5.1 mix on the disc. Overall it’s a pretty handy set of soundtracks here that cater for a range of setups.

Extras
A neat little extras package has been put together for this release, with the great animated menus taking us into a variety of pieces to do with the production. First up is the audio commentary with director Evan Clarry, producer Chris Brown and writer Stephen Davis. It seems the participants of this track decided to stoop to the level of schoolchildren when recording the commentary because some of their comments are strange and downright childish. Anything from the perils of wearing boxer shorts to Mark Priestley’s rear end is covered with the odd interesting piece of information thrown in without warning or structure during various points in the track. A pretty poor track that does nothing to enhance the fun of the production.

Next up is a featurette entitled Mark and Travis’ guide to Blurred, which utilises the funniest characters in the film as a vehicle to show some behind the scenes footage, starting with the car explosion stunt. It’s nothing more than a bunch of kids goofing off, with the director turning into a kid again in this piece, but it does show that the cast and crew had a lot of fun while shooting. Worth a look.

Also included is a deleted scenes package, which consists of four separate scenes running for around five minutes. What we get here is an extra couple of scenes between two of the Bus Nerds as they make out in the hotel, a rather soppy scene between Brad and Jillian and some more of Calvin and Wayne’s antics. Rather poor quality but interesting nonetheless, these are a worthy addition to the disc. There is also an outtakes section which is amusing in parts but just pedestrian in others. But there’s still some value in there for fans of the film and of fluffed lines in general.

...and Lynette the Train Girl

Still going strong, there’s a short film by director Evan Clarry called MATE, which is a low quality flick in the visual stakes but it makes up for it in the story department. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a very solid short film and is a welcome addition to the disc. Running for around ten minutes, I urge everyone to give it a look.

To finish there’s a promotional teasers package of various boy-ish antics as well as the quite slick theatrical trailer, neither of which I saw during their promotional run before the film’s release date. Nevertheless they’re worth a look and round out what is a pretty solid extras package that is brought down by an appalling commentary from the trio behind the whole production.

Overall
Despite finishing at a point where it should only be half-way through, Blurred is a rather fun look at one of the most enjoyable times in a young person’s life; getting smashed, having sex and generally being a nuisance. It’s all in here in truckloads, which amounts to a wild ride with a group of likeable characters. The video quality is great, the audio surprisingly the same and the extras package well worth a look despite a terribly commentary track, so you won’t do any harm in checking this disc out on the rental shelves this month.


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