Sometimes, otherwise strong little pictures get ignored and go straight-to-video; meanwhile, the star's careers take off. On second thought, the picture probably could have gotten distribution and taken off. Such is the case with "Two Ninas", an amusing and generally well-written romantic comedy starring Amanda Peet ("Saving Silverman") and Ron Livingston ("Office Space").
Livingston plays Marty Sachs, a struggling New York writer who thinks about giving it all up and going back to Maine to work with his father. At an otherwise dull party, he meets up with Nina (Cara Buono). The two have an awkward connection, but as they chat they find out that they have more in common then they'd previously thought. One day, he runs into another Nina (Amanda Peet), who's the exact opposite of the other Nina. Marty finds himself with both halves of the girl he's always been looking for.
Of course, there's trouble on the horizon as Marty can only balance the two girls for so long without them meeting up with one another. So far, it probably sounds like your average romantic comedy, but it works suprisingly better than most. Livingston's deadpan "Office Space" delivery is also on display here and his performance is entertaining, although not quite as sharp as "Space". Peet and Buono are also terrific, especially Peet, who is as intense and funny as usual. Bray Poor as Dave, Marty's jerk friend, is funny without being too over-the-top.
The writing of director Neil Turitz is noticably above-average; although the situations aren't exactly original, there are some funny moments such as when Dave breaks up with his girlfriend and argue in "Wizard Of Oz" terms. The dialogue also seemed a bit more realistic than usual. Although "Two Ninas" is an independent picture, it does have solid production values - it looks professional and makes good use of New York City locations.
It's not outstanding, but it's an impressive first feature that is better than most of the mainstream romantic comedies that I've seen.
VIDEO: "Two Ninas" is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. For a low-budget movie, the film gets a respectable presentation, but there are some noticable problems that arise at times throughout the movie. Sharpness and detail are generally quite good - some interior scenes are a tad bit softer, but generally, the picture looks well-defined and crisp, especially some of the outdoor scenes.
Some of the problems cause more of a distraction than others. The picture occasionally has a bit of a "digital" look, with some slight and occasionally more noticable pixelation and edge enhancement. Print flaws, on the other hand, are relatively minor. Some light speckles and marks occasionally appear, but only briefly and not in any massive amounts.
Colors looked well-rendered, appearing natural, nicely saturated and generally clean, without any problems such as smearing. This is a watchable presentation, but there are some definite flaws.
SOUND: "Two Ninas" is presented in Dolby Stereo. The movie is all dialogue, but occasionally there are some nice ambient sounds. Dialogue seemed well-recorded and clear and background noise never got in the way.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus with some NYC scenery in the background.
EXTRAS:: Trailers for "Two Ninas", "Taken" and "Nowhere To Hide" as well as a couple of minutes of outtakes and bloopers.
Final Thoughts: "Two Ninas" is not exactly a groundbreaking picture for the romantic genre, but it's certainly one of the better romantic comedies I've seen in quite a while, thanks to clever writing and sharp performances. The DVD is not particularly great, with mediocre audio/video, but if you're looking for a fun date-night movie, "Two Ninas" is definitely worth a look.
The Film ***
Video 75/C = (300/400 possible points)
Audio: 79/C+ = (316/400 possible points)
Extras: 75/C = (225/300 possible points)
Menus: 73/C = (146/200 possible points)
Value: 81/B = (243/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: ***
DVD GRADE: C