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Barney's Version
BLU-RAY disk
Aug 1, 2011 By: J.A. Hamilton
Barney's Version order download
Director:
Richard J. Lewis

Actors:
Paul Giamatti
Scott Speedman
Dustin Hoffman

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Barney's a complicate man, one who likes to indulge in life's simple pleasures like booze, cigars and women. His first marriage doesn't go too well and his second one's not going any better until he meets the woman of his dreams and falls in love...at the dinner party following his second marriage. As you can imagine, things then start to get complicated for poor Barney.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
From the trailer one might mistake this film for a romantic comedy, but they would be wrong. There are plenty of comedic moments in this film, mostly delivered from Barney himself but this is by no means a comedy. As for the romantic side, well if Barney's anything, he's definitely a romantic and a good man with good intentions. That said, this isn't exactly your typical love story either. BARNEY'S VERSION is a touching journey that's fun to watch for all its cynical humour, but it's also a painful breath of realism for its many life trials, decisions, mistakes and consequences.

Barney's character, played wonderfully by Paul Giamatti, is a flawed, crude and selfish man on the exterior but inside his chest beats a heart of gold. Barney's first marriage is for all the wrong reasons but great man that he is, he goes through it anyway because it's the right thing to do. The scene where his first wife's father comes to his hotel room is riveting to watch and though Barney never really speaks of his first wife after the fact, he still keeps that god awful painting around so you know he really felt for her. The second wife is all kinds of annoying and personally I have no clue what he saw in her, of course the wedding and specifically how much he and her father don't get along was a riot (when he threatens to kill her later on and then adds that he'll kill her father too just for kicks was priceless).

The supporting cast here are nothing short of captivating either, with Dustin Hoffman as Barney's father (thank God he's playing in a film that doesn't have the word "Fockers" in it). He's easily the most fun of Barney's entourage. I don't want to give too much away, but Barney and his father's last scene together is emotion but dead on magical. I've always enjoyed Scott Speedman's work, from the UNDERWORLD films, THE STRANGERS, to the underrated DARK BLUE. His character Boogie is the best friend we all want, and though what happens between them is terrible, his resulting disappearance which leads the police to believe Barney killed him is equally tragic. This situation is fully revealed by the end of the film and I must say, was handled beautifully.

BARNEY'S VERSION is an emotional monster of a rollercoaster showcasing one man's less than perfect life. I admire Barney for his tenacity, his intelligence and his heart but as you'll see, things never go according to plan and the same can be said of all our lives. Despite his shortcomings Barney does try to rise above it all and because of it, I couldn't help but feel for the guy, even when he was making the wrong choices. On a happier note though, his wisecracks and dialogue were pure gold. I laughed my ass off when his daughter's talking about her mother's new husband and all the pranks Barney's played on him over the years, like signing him up to an Al-Kataeb website, which was just as funny as the outlandishly inappropriate jokes his father was telling at the wedding. Sounds like my kind of family gathering.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary: Director Richard J. Lewis, writer Michael Kanyves and producer Robert Lantos all take part in this commentary and share an in depth look into Barney's tribulations. It's hard enough on the emotions watching it the first time.

Behind the Scenes of Barney's Version: This very short peek into the filming process has some quick cast interviews and money shots from the film. That nude photo phone conversation cracked me up.

Mordicai Richler: The author of the novel behind Barney's version gives us a quick three minute bit of input as he smokes and plays a solo game of pool. I think I see where the vision behind Barney's character came from.

On the Red Carpet: Here we get a short look at the comings and goings of the cast and crew on the red carpet premier of the film. Looked like a cool shindig.

92nd Street Y Q&A with Paul Giamatti & Annette Insdorf: The Q&A session is quite extensive as Giamatti discusses the film, his career and then takes some questions from the audience. Cool beans.

Previews: There's a slew of trailers, a DVD Copy of the film as well as some BD-LIVE content if you're hooked up to the web.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I wasn't sure what to make of this flick and though it's serious tone and tragedy hit home for me several times as the film played out, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the ride. Barney's life feels dangerously too real by today's standards and his tale is quite the eye opener. I'd recommend this one to just about anybody.
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