HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Hit by Lightning
HTS Overall Score:63
I have to admit I’m a fan of Jon Cryer. He’s a staple of any 80’s childhood as the famous Ducky from “Pretty in Pink” and I rabidly watched the first 8 seasons of “2 ½ men” as he gives his trademark goofy nice guy performance. So when I saw “Hit by Lightning” in my review pile my ears perked up and settled in for an entertaining laugh. The first half an hour made me giggle a bit, but by the second act of the film I was sitting there looking at my phone and even with the more intriguing 3rd act pulling ahead of the pack I just couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. If you’ve ever seen “Double Indemnity” you’ll already know where the plot is going, just aided by the comedic antics of Will Sasso and Jon Cryer.
Ricky Miller (Jon Cryer) is one of those guys who sits around on his couch frustrated by the lack of romance in his life. He sees all of his friends and co-workers getting a romantic relationship and nothing seems to get going his ways. He manages a “Debby’s” restaurant and browses Ehappily.com (you can see the very unsubtle comparisons to real life places here) in hopes of finding a soulmate, but his self-defacing attitude just leaves him wallowing in misery. His best friend Seth (Will Sasso), a wise cracking and chauvinistic party boy, tries to get him out of his slump by taking him out to pick up chicks, but Ricky really isn’t that type of guy. This all changes for Ricky when he decides to actually post a profile to Ehappily and ACTUALLY gets a date. His date, Danita (Stephanie Szostak) is a complete and total babe, you know, the kind that would NEVER go out with an average joe. Basically a perfect 10. The two fall in love instantly and it looks like wedding bells are in the air. Until, of course, the twist in the story. It seems that Danita is actually married to an extremely controlling husband who would rather see her dead than happy with anyone else. So of course, the only option left is to knock him off.
The first thing any sane person would think of is, “why is this beautiful woman dating me in the first place, and why is she trying to get me to kill her husband? Hmmmmmmmm”. Ricky is head over heels in love though, and he falls hook line and sinker for Danita’s request. Seth, on the other hand, is immediately suspicious and has Ricky really look hard at what he’s about to do. Is he just falling for a femme fatal, or is there something to her desperate cries for help. Soon Ricky because conflicted with information that seems to support both sides of the story and his confusion only causes more angst between himself and Danita. Ricky has to make a decision, and just pray that he makes the right one.
As I said up in the first paragraph, the story plays out as a parody of “Double Indemnity”. Woman wants man to knock off husband, man isn’t sure if she’s using him or not. I was really having a good time with the first act, as Ricky and Seth go around trying to find a girl for the poor guy. Danita was sweet, the romance was cute, and Jon Cryer was doing what Jon Cryer does best. Act the loveable goof. The second act really killed the momentum, though. The twist with the husband killing was not only rather contrived, but really tensionless. No one cared whether or not the husband (played by Jed Rees) was a good guy or a bad guy and Ricky was so stupidly head over heels for Danita that you didn’t even feel sorry for his stupidity by the end of the act.
Surprisingly enough the third act actually picked up a little bit. Ricky and the husband are now head to head, toying with each other in hopes of finding out the other’s secrets and I have to admit that I was actually intrigued how they would take the direction of this relationship. Was Danita’s husband actually the diabolical demon that she made him out to be, or was this all a cruel ploy? Unfortunately the last bit of the third act nearly ruined it, as it went by WAY too smoothly and the saccharine sweetness just didn’t sit right. The problem was that Ben (her husband) was just fleshed out and enough to where you actually care if he dies or not. The action that Ricky takes may be the right one considering the circumstances, but all you can do is just shrug your shoulders because there was no emotional investment. Things end happily, as expected, and that’s it.
The acting was a mixed bag. Stephanie and Jed did a passable job as the husband and wife duo, and Jon Cryer does the Jon Cryer schtick. It was decently done, but he really doesn’t have a lot to work with here. Color me surprised when Will Sasso turns out to be the most complex character in the whole movie. He starts out as the piggish, dumb best friend who’s only out to score chicks, but as the film progresses he turns into the best friend who will do what it takes to back up his buddy. Even if that includes offing someone.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=43529[/img]Anchor Bay’s 1.78:1 MPEG2 encode looks excellent considering its very low budget. The image tends to looks like a sitcom, with that slightly glossy and processed looks to it, shot with digital cameras that give the illusion of a higher framerate. Colors are a bit washed out at times, but still show enough pop and depth to be satisfying. The image is a little soft, but still full of solid detail, especially in the outdoor scenes where you can see the blades of grass in the cemetery and the little nuances in Ricky’s apartment furniture. Black levels stay very strong with some impressive shadow detail. I did notice a teensy bit of macroblocking during some of the darker sequences, but it was fleeting and only really noticeable if you looked for it. A solid effort with a low budget, “Hit by Lightning” maintains a good standard for SD.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=43537[/img]The single solitary 5.1 Dolby Digital track is more than a bit front heavy, but handles the dialog and movement in the front stage quite nicely. The surrounds are basically only there for decoration, as I barely heard them make a peep the entire film. Same thing with the LFE track, as it adds a very subtle low end that really is just there as window dressing. The main work is all done by the front three channels, and while there isn’t a whole lot of dimensionality, the dialog driven dramedy is handled well up front as the vocals are well realized and the front soundstage never sounds boxy or cramped.
“Hit by Lightning” is a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed pieces of the film, but felt that the pacing and story issues outweighed my enjoyment of the good parts. A parody of one of a great classic is always tricky, and low budget comedies with Will Sasso don’t tend to scream Oscar winning material. The video for this release is quite solid, and the audio satisfactory, but the rather blasé nature of the content leaves it as a rental if you’re really interested, otherwise I would just skip it.
Starring: Jon Cryer, Stephanie Szostak, Will Sasso
Director: Ricky Blitt
Written By: Ricky Blitt
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Runtime: 89 Minutes
DVD Release Date: April 21st, 2015
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