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The Nines (SE)
DVD disk
01.31.2008 By: Jason Adams
The Nines (SE) order
Director:
John August

Actors:
Ryan Reynolds
Hope Davis
Melissa McCarthy

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Oh boy. Let’s take this step by step. THE NINES is broken in to three separate acts. In the first, an actor on house arrest tries not to lose his mind. The second is a reality TV-style program that follows a television writer’s turbulent path to getting his new show on the air, while the third part is the writer’s actual TV show itself, but with a bizarre twist. All three sections are connected through various threads and feature the same actors playing different roles. Also, the number nine shows up a whole bunch.

Hey, you watch this movie and try to sum it up better.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Every now and then it’s nice to encounter a movie that just cracks open your skull and has rough intercourse with your brain. You’ll be bewildered pretty much throughout the majority of THE NINES, but in a good way. The last time I was this confused/intrigued by a movie was DONNIE DARKO. (Not that the two share any similarities aside from being aggressively perplexing.) It’s easy for films of this “genre” to be a chore to watch, but I thought the flick was engaging enough that I wasn’t turned off by the style and actually wanted to know just what the hell was going on.

THE NINES comes to us from the apparently warped mind of John August (BIG FISH, GO), who writes and makes his directing debut. The script has its clever points (perhaps Reynold’s green string bracelet will bring up some theories?) and I dug the thematic mix of existentialism and metaphysics, which he managed to quietly include without beating you over the cerebral cortex. It’s definitely not lacking in creativity either, with August using anything and everything to toy with the viewer, from random musical numbers to fourth wall breaking to Ryan Reynolds losing his belly button. Even if some of the more experimental stuff is a bit too out there (I didn’t mind the singing, but wasn’t 100% sold on it either), I’ll give the guy points for trying.

August’s direction is also fairly strong, with each of the three sections having its own visual style and feel. (The second part is based on his own personal experience writing for TV and feels quite honest about the “tougher” parts of the industry.) He also pulls together some talented folks to help sell the whole shebang. I’ve always dug Ryan Reynolds as an actor, whether comedic or serious, and he’s fantastic here playing three very different roles. Same goes for Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy. I wasn’t familiar with McCarthy before this, but was pleasantly surprised by her performance.

The pace slows a bit in the second act, mainly due to the change in format, but August keeps the mystery chugging along. The end itself works, with the outcome being interesting and not what I expected. It answered a lot of questions, almost to the point of being too straightforward (if you pay attention, that may be an intentional choice), but I still felt satisfied with the conclusion. In this day and age it’s always nice to be able to appreciate something original, which is a great word to describe THE NINES.
THE EXTRAS
Aside from the crappy cover art that does nothing to sell you on the movie (seriously…it looks like Ryan Reynolds isn’t sure whether or not he just farted), the disc does have some decent stuff.

Commentary by John August and Ryan Reynolds: Apparently, this was originally recorded for downloading and listening via MP3 player in the theaters. And for some reason it doesn’t synch up perfectly to the film (there’s a ten seconds late gap), which can get annoying. Still there’s a lot of information on here and Reynolds is a funny guy, so it might be worth sucking it up.

Commentary by John August, Melissa McCarthy and editor Douglas Crise: Honestly, a lot of what’s said by August is repeated info from the other commentary. And as peppy and pleasant as McCarthy is to listen to, I’m not sure it was worth it.

Deleted Scenes (13:01): A few more pieces of the puzzle (though rightfully cut), with optional commentary by August. One scene does directly bring up String Theory, which is very subtly hinted at in the movie. (If you don’t already know what String Theory is, don’t Wiki it. It’ll give you a headache.)

Summing Up THE NINES (14:22): This is a general behind the scenes feature, with August and co. taking you through the film conceptually and physically. It does give away a few hints, so make sure you watch it post-viewing.

“GOD” Short Film (11:24): An amusing short from August starring Melissa McCarthy as a girl who’s friends with God and feels his wrath when things turn sour. It’s a little student-filmy, but does feature some vague connections to THE NINES, so it might be worth your time if you liked the movie.

Script to Storyboard to Screen Comparisons (5:25): A split screen demo of the opening scene. I liked the scene itself, but nothing really warranted such specific treatment.

There’s also a Photo Gallery and Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
You’ll either love THE NINES or hate it, depending on your tolerance for “weird” movies and whether or not you personally connect to the film’s themes. Some have called it “David Lynch-lite,” which isn’t too far off, but I still found it enjoyable. If you’re looking for something different, it’s definitely worth at least a rental.

Extra Tidbit: The house used in the first two acts is John August’s real house. Which is amusing since Ryan Reynolds spanks it on his couch.
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