DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Jason Reitman
Cast: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith
Writing Credits:
Jason Reitman (screenplay), Joyce Maynard (novel)

Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Box Office:
$18 million.
Opening Weekend
$5,175,282 on 2,584 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Video 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 4/29/2014

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jason Reitman, Director of Photography Eric Steelberg and First AD/Co-Producer Jason Blumenfeld
• “End of Summer: Making Labor Day” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Labor Day [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2014)

Based on the Joyce Maynard novel, 2014’s Labor Day delivers a romantic drama from an unlikely party: director Jason Reitman, best known for less sentimental material such as 2007’s Juno. Set over Labor Day weekend in 1987, we meet adolescent Henry (Gattlin Griffith) and his single mother Adele (Kate Winslet). Adele remains depressed years after her husband Gerald (Clark Gregg) left her and she lives as a near shut-in.

During one of their monthly outings to purchase supplies, Adele and Henry encounter Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), a wounded, threatening man who demands a ride. A recent escapee from prison, Frank requests a place to stay for the day, but he remains with Adele and Henry through the entire long holiday weekend. We follow challenges that occur as well as the unlikely connection made among the trio.

When I saw the trailer for Day, I figured it’d be Nicholas Sparks-style romantic claptrap. Though the presence of talents like Brolin and Winslet made me a little more optimistic, not until I noticed Reitman’s involvement did I think it came with true potential.

Unfortunately, Day turns into nothing more than the expected nonsense – and the presence of so much talent makes this more of a shame than usual. How can so many bright, skilled people make such a dopey movie?

Day exists as a basic female fantasy, with Frank at the core as the perfect “Renaissance bad boy”. As he offers all things to all people, it becomes comical how the film portrays him as the ideal man – well, except for that pesky murder, of course.

But we’re supposed to not care about that, or about Frank’s status as a fugitive. Clearly Frank and Adele share a Perfect, Special Bond, and that’s all that matters, right?

Hurl. All of this seems relentlessly contrived and utterly illogical. Adele lives a life of self-imposed isolation but she takes in a menacing prison escapee with few qualms? And then falls immediately in love with him to the point where she becomes willing to potentially sacrifice her own freedom and the future of her son?

Hurl again. Day doesn’t remain content to stick with the Frank/Adele drama, though, as it delivers other elements as well. It mixes in the jailbreak narrative along with Henry’s “coming of age”. Why not just focus on the basic romance? It’d still be emotionally false, but at least it’d maintain some consistency.

To make it worse, most of the Henry moments feel even more contrived than the rest. He develops an out-of-nowhere relationship with a newly-arrived classmate that exists solely to create artificial tension. I don’t recall the girl’s name, but it should be “Plot Device”, as that’s all she does for the story. She appears in the tale to motivate conflicts within Henry and that’s it.

Day consistently stretches credulity to allow its narrative to progress. We often see all the publicity involved with the manhunt for Frank, so why doesn’t the cashier at the store where he approached Henry mention him? Frank acted suspiciously enough anyway, so why don’t any of the folks from that spot bring this up to the police?

Because that’d deliver a quick end to the movie, I guess – which would’ve been fine with me. Labor Day maintains minor tension as we vaguely wonder how it’ll end, but even that finale doesn’t work, largely because it takes us beyond the holiday weekend in question to show us the futures of the characters. This becomes idiotic, sentimental and absurd.

Kind of like the prior 100-plus minutes. Maybe I’ll eventually figure out what made the project appeal to so many talented folks, but that won’t happen any time soon. Right now Labor Day comes across as illogical, contrived romantic silliness without any satisfying elements.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Labor Day appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness satisfied. Occasional wide shots tended to be a bit iffy, but the majority of the flick demonstrated decent delineation and clarity. I noticed no shimmering, jaggies or edge enhancement. The image remained clean and lacked any source defects.

Colors were subdued. The movie preferred a somewhat amber feel with occasional green overtones and lacked many instances of vibrant hues, though the colors seemed fine; they were generally well-defined and full. Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows seemed smooth and clear. All of this combined for a nice image.

Don’t expect much from the laid-back DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Labor Day, as it offered a decent but not great auditory experience. Sound quality was always good, at least. Music worked the best, as the score and songs demonstrated nice range and depth. Effects didn’t play a major role, but they seemed acceptably clear and accurate, while speech was distinctive and natural.

The soundscape lacked much to impress. Music dominated, as songs/score came from all around the spectrum. Effects had less to do, as they focused the realm of general environment. A few segments – such as one by a river, and another related to the police - added minor pep, but the soundfield remained low-key. Still, it did what it needed to do for a film of this sort.

As we move to the set’s extras, we discover an audio commentary from writer/director Jason Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg and first AD/co-producer Jason Blumenfeld. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, character/story areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, production design and period details, music, cinematography and editing.

From start to finish, we find a likable chat here. Reitman dominates and offers a mix of nice notes about the film. The others chime in with their own useful notes, and this ends up as a strong, enjoyable discussion.

End of Summer: Making Labor Day runs 29 minutes, six seconds and features comments from Reitman, author Susan Maynard, production designer Steve Saklad, costume designer Danny Glicker, composer Rolfe Kent, and actors Josh Brolin, James Van Der Beek, Kate Winslet, Clark Gregg, Gattlin Griffith, Tom Lipinski, Tobey Maguire and Maika Monroe. The show discusses the source novel and its adaptation, cast and performances, locations, production design, costumes and period details, and music. “Summer” delivers a solid mix of details along with shots from the set to become a worthwhile program.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 36 seconds. These tend toward minor character expansions, so they don’t tell us a whole lot. For instance, “Mr. Jervis” spells out his interest in Adele a bit more clearly and adds some menace. Beyond some elements related to Henry’s hamster, we don’t really learn anything we don’t know from the final film, so most of the sequences seem redundant.

A second disc delivers a DVD copy of Labor Day. This lacks any of the Blu-ray’s extras.

Contrived and borderline moronic, Labor Day wastes talented cast and crew. It becomes a dull, silly romance packed with so many dopey moments that it becomes a near-constant dud. The Blu-ray provides very good picture along with decent audio and a few informative supplements. I can’t figure out what attracted the notable participants to this ridiculous waste of time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main