Haiku Tunnel appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie remained watchable but it showed a surprisingly high number of problems for such a recent film.
Some of these seemed due to its low-budget origins, but many appeared unrelated. Sharpness looked decent but unspectacular. The movie never came across as very soft or unfocused, but it also didn’t seem terribly crisp or well defined. The image appeared acceptably distinct but lacked the definition that I would expect. Jagged edges and moiré effects presented no concerns, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement.
Print flaws were surprisingly prevalent for a recent film. Light grain appeared during much of the film, and I also detected a myriad of additional minor flaws. The picture showed grit, speckles, streaks, nicks and spots. Never did these seem frightfully heavy, but they definitely appeared excessive for a modern flick.
Colors looked acceptable for the most part, and at times they came across as fairly warm and vibrant. However, they also appeared somewhat thick and oversaturated at times. The hues seemed inconsistent, so while most of the film appeared fine in that regard, other scenes weren’t as successful. Blacks seemed somewhat murky and inky much of the time, though shadow detail looked reasonably appropriate and distinct. None of these problems made Haiku Tunnel difficult to watch, but I still thought this was a below-average presentation for a film from 2001.
Much more pleasing was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Haiku Tunnel. Not surprisingly, the soundfield remained fairly heavily oriented toward the front channels. Within the forward spectrum, I heard strong stereo separation for music, which showed good imaging and presence. Effects stayed in the realm of general ambience for the most part, but they showed nice spread and involvement. The surrounds kicked in with little more than reinforcement of the music and effects, but the soundfield seemed fine for this sort of dialogue-heavy film.
Audio quality appeared consistently terrific. Dialogue seemed natural and distinct; I heard no edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects were a modest element, but they sounded clean and accurate, with good range. Music fared best of all, as the score came across as clean and distinct. The music was vibrant and bright, and bass response appeared nicely deep and rich. The soundtrack of Haiku Tunnel lost a few points due to its lack of ambition, but it still earned a “B+” due to the strong reproduction of the audio.
This DVD of Haiku Tunnel provides a smattering of supplements. First up we find an audio commentary from co-director/co-writer/actor Josh Kornbluth and his co-director/co-writer brother Jacob. Both were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Overall, I thought this was a pretty mediocre track, but considering my extreme animosity toward the film itself, I suppose that such positive sentiments are a minor miracle.
On the positive side, the Kornbluth boys provide a chatty and reasonably engaging presence. The commentary suffers from exceedingly few empty spaces as the boys yak almost continuously. They provide a decent amount of good information and come across as moderately witty and likeable; to be sure, Josh seems much less annoying here than during the movie.
However, at times the commentary suffers badly from Farrelly Syndrome. Like that more successful pair of filmmaking brothers, the Kornbluths often do little more than tell us who the onscreen participants are. They also waste a lot of time with excessively positive statements, as we learn how great everyone was. To be fair, I probably shouldn’t say “they” do this, as it’s mainly Josh who spreads the love. Jacob seems better oriented toward the appropriate task at hand, and he offers the majority of the useful information while Josh schmoozes. In the end, I thought this was a decent little track and I certainly enjoyed it more than the film itself, but it did little to distinguish itself from the pack.
Next we find some unused footage in two different sections. Deleted Scenes offers six clips, each of which runs between 14 seconds and 93 seconds for a total of five minutes and three seconds of material. It’s all similar to the junk seen in the film itself; none of that work made me laugh, and nothing here inspired any renewed amusement.
The Outtakes provides an additional six snippets. Each lasts between 26 seconds and 53 seconds for a total of four minutes, 34 seconds of footage. Mostly these offer repeated takes of shots, and they may be interesting to fans; I didn’t care for them. One complaint: Columbia-Tristar rarely bothers to provide a “Play All” option for their DVDs, and it’s absent here as well. It’s a minor nuisance to have to constantly restart short clips, but it’s an annoyance nonetheless, and one that could be easily avoided.
After this, we discover some basic extras. Filmographies includes listings for both Kornbluth brothers and actor Warren Keith, while Theatrical Trailers provides promos for Tunnel, The Tao of Steve and Jackpot. Lastly, the DVD’s insert card offers a short text Directors’ Statement.
Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t apologize for the flick, which is the only statement that we need. Haiku Tunnel stands as a truly witless piece of work. It wants badly to be clever and fresh, but instead it simply comes across as moronic, self-indulgent, and annoying. I found it to offer a genuinely unpleasant experience. Picture quality seemed surprisingly weak, but the audio appeared very good, and the DVD included a mix of decent extras. Do yourself a favor and avoid this miserably unfunny flick.