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Strange things happen in the middle of nowhere indeed. What were they thinking when they made Viva Las Nowhere? Perhaps this one would have been better not made at all. Daniel Stern as Frank Jacobs gives new meaning to the word loser.

Movie
Daniel Stern plays Frank Jacobs, a bloke with a kind heart in a loveless marriage who is totally unappreciated for what he does. Patricia Richardson is his wife Helen who seemingly has nothing to do all day but watch television and complain. All Frank dreams of doing is becoming a country and western singer. In addition to taking care of their dusty old motel in the middle of nowhere, Frank writes songs and looks forward to his weekly visits to the local pub for talent night. Every week he belts out his tunes and every week the locals politely clap when he is through. Until one week, a big-time country and western singer named Roy Baker, played by James Caan, and his off-sider Julie, played by Lacey Kohl, hold top billing at the local pub. Apparently, it was an off night for them as Lacey stumbles on the stage totally intoxicated and eventually passes out. However, while under a great influence, her voice somehow makes Frank starry-eyed.

Viva Las Nowhere

What happens after a series of events can be described as quite pathetic. Honestly, I can't believe that any of the cast needed the paycheck for this one that badly. I felt it was like a movie you see when some actors are just starting out, certainly not that of established actors such as these. I am or was a big James Caan fan and can only hope we will look forward to seeing him undertaking some higher quality roles in the future.

Without giving away the plot, Helen goes missing and her identical high-class sister, also played by Patricia Richardson visits looking for Helen. Don't blink twice because you will miss yet another disappearance of the cast. Ironically, not too many locals take much notice that people just disappear.

Initially, I did have a ‘good onya Frank’ for trying to make something of yourself and pursue your dreams. However, the movie plot became quite ridiculous and it sometimes seems liked the actors themselves knew this should have stayed on the cutting room floor. The entire movie that is.

Video
Viva Las Nowhere was presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and is 16:9 enhanced. From the dusty motel owned and maintained by Frank and Helen to the area where the pool will eventually be the Director, Jason Bloom, must have chose to have the viewer feel Frank's despair at being in a dead end (almost literally) and never being able to get away.

Overall, I would say the transfer was good. On occasion, it might have been difficult to distinguish what actually was going on while a lot of digging was done outside. Thank goodness for Frank's dog. For a lower budget movie this is a pretty standard transfer; the colours aren’t all that outstanding, there’s a large amount of grain and the black levels aren’t what they should be. I suppose it’s to be expected from a movie such as this one, and I don’t think anyone will really care.

Viva Las Nowhere

Audio
Presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0, the dialogue in Viva Las Nowhere seemed clear and understandable. The country and western music did not drown out any of the conversations and the music was quite enjoyable. Having said this, one couldn't help but feel there was a Milli Vanilli thing going on when Frank and Julie were signing their duet at the local pub. I would have enjoyed hearing more of a surround sound effect on various scenes rather than a flat monotone dialogue. Sadly we’re stuck with the stereo soundtrack.

Extras
All we get on this release is a theatrical trailer presented in full screen and with a Dolby 2.0 audio track. Honestly, it didn't do a thing for me and certainly wouldn’t entice me to rush out and rent it. The only thing it would have done is show me that some really good actors are in a really not so good film.

Viva Las Nowhere

Overall
Obviously when they made this movie, there must have been a target market for who they thought would enjoy this attempt at twisted comedy. Daniel Stern as Frank is a likable enough character who seems to go straight from the frying pan and into the fire. It seemed people might have initially identified with man's struggle to be wanted or needed. Fate stepped in to see him through. Fate...Is it our destiny? Or is it beyond out control? I probably wouldn't recommend rushing right out and renting Viva Las Nowhere, but if for no other reason than to enjoy a film about some actors you know and usually enjoy, then I guess that would be the comfort in renting this.


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