The "sophmore slump" has been a curse that many filmmakers have had to face. Kevin Smith had "Mallrats". Occasionally, though, there's a filmmaker who's been in a slump since their first feature. For example, Eric Shaeffer, who directed this funny, but not outstanding, 1993 comedy.
"Turnaround", which is a term for a picture that is put on the shelf until someone else decides to release it, stars Shaeffer and Donal Lardner Ward as two Manhattan buddies who decide one day to make a movie. They have no idea about making a movie, don't know anything about how to operate a camera or produce a picture - in general, they're clueless. They don't even know what they want to make a movie about, but they're determined. Schaeffer plays Splick, a cab driver and Lardner Ward tends bar. After failing at theater, they decide that cinema is their next hope for stardom.
They meet up with possible starlets Phoebe Cates and Martha Plimpton, but little things like screenplay and crew and...well, a whole other list of things still need to be worked out. Of course, the film itself is really about the making of the movie that you're already watching. It all sounds rather silly and oddball, but the screenplay by the two stars strings together enough very sharp jokes about indie filmmaking that I found it and still find it consistently very funny.
The two aren't very good actors - and Schaeffer consistently walks the line between funny and remarkably annoying, but it works in its own sloppy way. Famed indie director John Sayles (Eight Men Out, Lone Star) also is on hand in a cameo as a producer. If you're wondering where the two have gone since, Schaeffer took his slight success with "Turnaround" to a deal to make films, and ended up with the flop "If Lucy Fell" starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Ward wrote "The Suburbans", which went directly to video.
In the end, though, their first picture still remains the funniest one. "Turnaround" finally ends up on DVD and although the picture/audio quality leaves a lot to be desired, the retail price is only $9.99.
VIDEO: Arrow Films states that the disc offers "Superior Picture and Sound Quality" on the back cover. Uh, ok... The film is presented in full-screen, which seems to be its original aspect ratio. The quality is, well, shall we say, not good. With the 16mm material and general lack of knowledge about filmmaking at the time, "My Life's In Turnaround" is never going to look very good. Sharpness and detail are lacking; the picture often seems rather hazy and soft.
Flaws abound - print flaws are apparent throughout the movie, ranging from scratches to marks to speckles of various sizes. Grain is variable - some scenes presented light grain, while other dimly lit scenes presented heavier grain. Colors seemed to be fairly well-rendered, bleeding only slightly at times. Flesh tones sometimes didn't look accurate, but mostly appeared natural. This was a watchable image, but it certainly wasn't without some definite problems, mainly due to the very low budget material.
SOUND: "My Life's In Turnaround" is presented in Dolby Stereo. Although "low-budget" in nature as well, the sound fared somewhat better than the picture quality. The poppy score came through okay, if somewhat muddy sounding at times. Dialogue seemed slightly rough, but easily understood.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with film-themed backgrounds.
EXTRAS: Trailer. The box says there's "outtakes" - there's no outtakes.
Final Thoughts: Although "Turnaround" unsuprisingly doesn't have much to offer in terms of image/audio quality, the film itself is funny at worth checking out - especially for the low retail price of $9.99 - and less at most stores.
The Film ***
Video 69/D+ = (276/400 possible points)
Audio: 75/C = (300/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 83/B = (249/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: ***
DVD GRADE: C