Full Frontal


David Duchovny as Bill/Gus
Nicky Katt as Hitler
Catherine Keener as Lee
Mary McCormack as Linda
David Hyde Pierce as Carl
Julia Roberts as Catherine/Francesca
Blair Underwood as Nicholas/Calvin
Enrico Colantoni as Arty/Ed
Erika Alexander as Lucy
Tracy Vilar as Heather
David Fincher as Film Director
Jerry Weintraub as Jerry
Terence Stamp as Man on Man/Himself
Brad Pitt as Brad/Himself

Special Features:
Feature Commentary with Director Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriter Coleman Hough
Deleted Scenes with Optional Screenwriter Commentary
In-Character Interviews
Director’s Spy Cam
The Rules
Conversation with Steven Soderbergh
Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Running Time: 101 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track

No, this is not a porn flick, despite the sound of the title.

As Hollywood producer Gus celebrates his 40th birthday, a group of friends and acquaintances gather for his party.

The guests include Carl who is a writer who’s afraid he’s headed towards burnout. He’s also feeling that his relationship with his wife Lee is going downhill. Lee, on the other hand, is ready to call off their marriage and continue her affair with Calvin, a big name movie star. In the meantime she goes on a power trip as an HR person by harassing employees.

Calvin is starring in a movie with Francesca, a rising star looking for a meaningful relationship. Together they’re in a film written by Arty. Arty happens to be a playwright on the side producing a play called “The Sound And The Fuhrer” starring a bizarre young actor as Hitler. Arty also has an online love that he’s going to be meeting in person for the first time. What he doesn’t know is that it is Linda, Lee’s sister. She’s a masseuse at a hotel where Gus’ party is to take place.

All these people will come together for the party along with their excess baggage of relationship problems.

“Full Frontal” is rated R for language and some sexual content.

The Movie:
I must admit that I’m not a fan of art house films or independent films, and that’s very much what this is. Therefore, it wasn’t my cup of tea. Obviously a lot of people enjoyed it based on what I saw in glowing reviews, but I never saw the appeal of it. I found the plot to be boring and at times confusing. I don’t get a lot of entertainment out of watching people from L.A. whine about their personal problems.

As much as I was bored by this film, there were a few high points that I enjoyed. There’s some fun dialogue here and there. The play based on Hitler is so horribly bad that it makes some of the highlights of the story. Any movie that features dancing Nazis definitely hits a low worth noting. The way Nicky Katt’s character gets so wrapped up into the Hitler persona is also amusing. Brad Pitt has some fun brief cameos in the movie. Then there’s a neighbor that dresses like Dracula, a dog that eats a ton of brownies with an extra ingredient, an odd conversation in a bathroom, and more. These little funny moments spread here and there throughout the film made the movie more bearable for me.

Director Steven Soderbergh also switches between hand held digital camera and 35 mm film throughout the story. At first I thought it was just an artsy fartsy gimmick on his part, but you eventually realize it has relevance to the story. However, it doesn’t add much to the overall presentation though I’m sure it impressed the film festival crowds.

The cast is, of course, first rate. All of the actors take the characters and make them come alive through a lot of improvisation. I liked the performances by David Hyde Pierce, Blair Underwood, and Mary McCormack. I just wish their talents could have been used on a better story.

The Extras:
As much as I disliked the film, I found the extras on this DVD much more entertaining. Here are some highlights:

Deleted Scenes – The deleted scenes help establish some of the characters and their relationships a little bit better. There’s a scene with Arty and Calvin that emphasizes how they know each other more. There’s also a hilarious look at “The Sound And The Fuhrer” and the rehearsal for the dance numbers in it. (Yes, dance numbers.) Hitler even has an amusing fight with Blair Underwood’s character. While the deleted scenes don’t move the story along any better, some of them are fun and worth checking out.

In-Character Interviews – Soderbergh did a unique thing by interviewing his entire cast in character. He had a set of pre-written questions and asked all of the characters about their lives. Julia Roberts offers some of the funnier comments as Francesca. She discusses her political views, her ambitions to be a hot air balloonist, and more. She even burps on camera (probably a career first for her.) While some of the other characters didn’t offer as interesting interviews, they are worth checking out.

Director’s Spy Cam – Apparently director Steven Soderbergh left hidden cameras around the set of his film. He took highlights from the shots and put them on the DVD. They include Julia Roberts taking photos for her website, Terence Stamp preparing for a scene, and clowning around behind the scenes. It’s a unique feature for a DVD.

The Rules – Steven Soderbergh has a strict set of rules for his cast on his films. They must do their own makeup, choose their own wardrobe, bring their own lunches, leave behind the entourage, and more. The cast discusses these rules and their thoughts on them. Of course, they all enjoy the experience though it seems a lot of them had to get tips on how to do their own makeup.

Conversation with Steven Soderbergh – Soderbergh talks about the development of the idea behind the story, filming this movie immediately after the big budget Ocean’s 11, dealing with the cast, filming techniques, and more. It’s an interesting interview and I appreciate more what he was trying to do with the film though I still didn’t care for it.

The Bottom Line:
This film is for the art house and independent film crowds. Mainstream audiences will probably not enjoy this one. You might get a kick out of seeing Julia Roberts, David Duchovny, or Brad Pitt in the film, but beyond that you’ll have to look deeper to get anything out of it.