- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: NR
- Run Time: 85 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: MPI Media Group
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 19, 2012
- List Price: $29.98
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It’s always a nice change to come across a comedy with heart and well written dialogue that doesn’t rely solely on slapstick or gross out humor to get its point across. Director Brian Cano’s indie comedy A Bag of Hammers, which he co-wrote with the film’s co-star Jake Sandvig (Easy A), is one of those refreshing discoveries, even if the film on the whole is a bit uneven.
A Bag of Hammers starts off strong, a quirky comedy with quick dialogue between the two leads, Jason Ritter (TV’s Joan of Arcadia) and Jake Sandvig, as longtime friends Ben and Alan who make their living as grifters, dressing up as car valets at funeral homes and cemeteries to steal high end automobiles from unsuspecting mourners. Despite the urging from Alan’s sister Mel (Rebecca Hall; Everything Must Go; The Town) to find real jobs, the two carefree misfits go on with their reckless and not always brilliant life of crime, stealing cars and selling them to their sleazy friend Marty (Todd Louiso) who is hopelessly in love with the uninterested Mel.
Ben and Alan have managed, nonetheless, to invest their illegal earnings in a dilapidated apartment complex that they live in and also rent out, which is how they meet the Katrina refugee Lynette (True Blood‘s Carrie Preston) and her 12-year-old son Kelsey (Chandler Canterbury). The young Kelsey instantly takes a liking to the two car thieves, but it isn’t until the boy’s own life takes a tragic turn that Ben and Alan step into Kelsey’s life and Kelsey changes their lives in unsuspected ways.
The second half of A Bag of Hammers is really where Cano and Sandvig’s film takes a bit of a downturn. Where the first half is a testament to levity, the handling of the weightier themes introduced in the second half never feel quite as sincere. This isn’t the fault of the cast, which is nearly pitch perfect throughout. Ritter and Sandvig have an easy rapport from the get go, Hall seems wonderful as the morally conflicted sister and friend, while a cameo from Amanda Seyfried as Ben’s ex-girlfriend results in one of Hammers‘ most hilarious moments. The issue is more about the script breaking down and the general indirection.
Still, the overall feel and charm of A Bag of Hammers makes it more than worthy of sitting through and is perhaps telling of Cano’s future as a director, possibly even Sandvig as a screenwriter.
A Bag of Hammers was shot on the Red One camera in high definition and looks appropriately clean and free from source damage and film grain as one would expect in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from MPI. While detail is generally strong and the image overall is free from egregious artifacts, there are a few moments here and there where some digital anomalies can be spied – a little posterization here some slight video noise there – but nothing to ultimately distract from viewing pleasure. Overall contrast is also not quite the widest we’ve seen, but it works nevertheless.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is rather bland offering little engagement even if it does fit the material. The dialogue is clean in the center channel, but the surround channels have a very limited amount of atmospheric effects and dynamic range is narrow.
Nothing much here to see at all outside of the typical, self-congratulatory “behind the scenes” featurette.
- Behind the Scenes (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:10:44)
- Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
The Definitive Word
In spite of its flaws, A Bag of Hammers is a charming indie comedy you won’t be disappointed watching. It arrives in a satisfying Blu-ray transfer, even if it does feel a little barebones. Recommended.
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