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Want to know what the movie moguls get up to when they are between major film projects? Or to put it more bluntly, the little things they do for some extra pocket money? The answer is Waking Up In Reno, which is best described as a road trip meets romantic comedy drama, however these genres are at the barest of their definitions here. The story involves two married couples who decide to drive up to Las Vegas for a well-deserved break from the everyday ... but wait, there's something going on beneath the heavenly exterior of their content and simplistic existence.

Waking Up In Reno
Waking Up In Reno tries to cater for both halves of the human race where the women talk intimately between themselves whilst the blokes have some much needed beer-guzzling best-buddy interaction. On the surface it seems like an inoffensive way of wasting a valuable ninety minutes, especially for those who enjoy the concept of reality TV when best friends betray each other. I mean, who wouldn't want to see a contemptible salesman sleeping with his golden-hearted pal's stunning wife when his own spouse won't stop bellyaching about her self-imposed misery? Don't worry, I haven't spoilt the movie's plot for you already since all is revealed within the first five minutes anyway.

And look out for an inexplicable cameo from Penelope Cruz.

Movie
Set against the backdrop of Little Rock Arkansas, four life-long chums go on a pilgrimage towards the seedy gambling metropolis that is Las Vegas. Local sleazy used car sales identity Lonnie Earl Dodd (Billy Bob Thornton) suggests to his wife Darlene (Natasha Richardson) and two other close friends that they all drive up to glitzy Las Vegas in his brand new model pickup truck. The sweet and innocent factory worker Roy Kirkendall (Patrick Swayze) agrees to the idea whilst his assumedly faithful love-of-his-life Candy (Charlize Theron) is initially reluctant to the idea.

Waking Up In Reno
Lonnie only wants to go for the 72oz steak and Monster Truck Rally which also includes a car-crushing Robosaurus. Darlene has always wanted to see the Grand Canyon but her wishes are constantly at odds with the insensitive Lonnie (no wonder she's so grumpy lately). Roy figures that this holiday would be a great change from the continual and problematic quest to conceive a baby, although Candy may have inadvertently found a solution (but not in the way that anyone would have expected, or wanted).

Their silver-lined lives just seem to be getting better and better, until ...

Waking Up In Reno
Video
Having enjoyed a mega-brief stint in theatres, this movie was most likely plopped onto DVD even before it was hurriedly taken out of cinematic circulation. Hence the image quality is what you should come to expect from an underplayed undemanding film production such as this.

Basically, the print is mainly clear of dirt or bodily waste like rogue hairs or eyelashes. Focus is generally sharp and well defined with only a minimum amount of grain to be expected from the standard 35mm film stock utilised. Hardly any compression artefacts are present, the black levels relatively deep with shadow detail equally uniform throughout the daytime and night shots. Colours are normal fare with near perfect saturation of flesh tones and surrounding locations.

Waking Up In Reno
Audio
Not much is asked for on the six speakers of your varyingly expensive home theatre system here.

Blah blah blah goes the dialogue emanating from the front channel. Thankfully an effective stereo presence is generated from the well-rendered music and one-off Monster Truck sequence with its subdued thunderous roars and crunches. The surrounds only kick off sporadically in the aforementioned set of scenes, just enough to remind you that you bothered to buy them in the first place. The subwoofer also provides enough bottom-line support to make you wonder why you even need it since the wife has filled your shelves full of chick flicks—all in all, an unobjectionably satisfactory soundtrack.

Extras
The Theatrical Trailer is included ... oh, there are also English subtitles.

Waking Up In Reno
Overall
Some say that movies like Waking Up In Reno are a waste of celluloid and of the audience's limited time-schedule. But as convoluted as this plot is, at least it still has a plot unlike some other movies that don't have anything else to take over in its place. And in this case, the plot is here for character arcs and the occasional guffaw. There are times though when enough action (Bad Boys II) or comedy (Scary Movie 1/3) is present to allow a thinly veiled or hard-to-follow storyline to take a back seat.

In terms of placing this movie within any one genre ... the road trip part is only in service of arriving at various destinations; the romantic part is pretty much negated since everyone is married; the drama part is the eternal wait for the inevitable cat-clawing to happen; and the comedy part is purely subjective if you're into the occasional one-liner wise-cracks or even some good ol' humping in the car (which goes back again to the road trip part). If your partner is in the hankering for this type of movie, I'd strongly suggest waiting for it in the bargain bin since you could get a whole lot more for the initial asking RRP.


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