Roadie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though the movie could look quite good at times, it came with more than a few issues.
The most obvious problems stemmed from print flaws. These cropped up most heavily in the opening credits and cleaned up as the movie progressed, but they remained a distraction through much of the movie. Mostly I saw specks and spots, but some nicks and debris also appeared. I’ve seen dirtier movies, but this one nonetheless suffered from more flaws than I’d expect.
Sharpness was generally good. Some mild softness materialized at times, but the flick usually looked pretty accurate and concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain looked natural, so I didn’t suspect invasive digital noise reduction.
Colors usually seemed nice. The movie featured a natural palette that the Blu-ray displayed with pretty positive vivacity. At times the hues could be a bit flat, but they mostly gave us pleasing tones. Blacks were fairly deep, while shadows seemed acceptable; some low-light elements could seem a little dense, but they remained mostly smooth. Without the print flaws, this would’ve been a solid image, but those blemishes knocked my grade down to “C+”.
In terms of audio, Roadie hits some weird snags. The Blu-ray’s main menu promises DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0 options, but only the latter appears. If you select the 5.1 track, instead you get a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix – which actually appears to be silent! I checked it out occasionally during the movie, and every time I did so, no sound came from my speakers. I tried this on two different players, so it doesn’t appear to be related to my hardware; I suspect the Blu-ray simply botched the audio option.
So that left me with the DTS-HD MA 2.0 option as the only way to go, and it was more than a little odd. Actually, the soundscape demonstrated reasonable spread in terms of effects, as it plopped elements in the right spots and allowed them to mesh together to a passable degree. In particular, trucks – a big factor in a movie about roadies – moved across the speakers in a neat manner, and some other effects brought decent life to the mix.
So what seemed odd? The presentation of the music – another big factor – didn’t work well. Rather than spread across the whole front spectrum, the songs appeared to come mostly from the center and left speakers. This varied, so some music popped up in the right, but those components leaned to the left. This became a distraction, though the situation improved as the movie progressed; the musical balance became more natural as the flick went along, even if it still sometimes oriented toward the left.
Audio quality was erratic as well. Speech appeared natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects occasionally betrayed some light distortion, but they usually sounded accurate enough.
Music once again remained the weak link. The score and songs tended to sound thin and feeble, with some roughness along the way. These musical elements lacked much life or clarity; even at their best, they failed to display any real range or power. Given the movie’s age and budget, I can’t say this was a terrible mix, but it lacked much pizzazz.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2003 DVD? Visuals showed increased clarity, but the Blu-ray also seemed dirtier than the DVD, as it came with more print flaws. The DVD boasted superior audio, as it delivered a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 track that easily topped the Blu-ray’s lackluster 2.0 mix.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get a new audio commentary from screenwriters James “Big Boy” Medlin and Michael Ventura. Both offer separate running, screen-specific chats that get edited into a seamless whole; indeed, it becomes easy to believe they sat together, as the cutting leaves one with that impression.
But it’s not accurate, as they provide their individual thoughts about the project’s origins and development, script/story/character areas, cast and performances, director Alan Rudolph, sets and locations, real-life inspirations, music, and various related issues.
Though it sags a bit as it goes, the track mostly offers a delightful look at Roadie. The writers deliver a ton of fun details and insights as they give us their perspective. In particular, I like Medlin’s reflections on his colorful life and its influence on the story, and we even get some mild criticism of the film’s failings. Despite occasional lulls, I think this track works quite well.
Roadie provides an incoherent piece of comic fluff that never manages to become entertaining. The gags fall flat and the characters don’t rise above one-dimensional status. The Blu-ray gives us acceptable but erratic picture and audio along with an informative audio commentary. I don’t care for Roadie as a film, and due to some problems, I can’t endorse it as a Blu-ray, mostly due to its audio problems. Until/unless these get corrected, fans should stick with the 2003 DVD.
To rate this film, visit the original review of ROADIE