There's a certain amount of lowered expectations that come with watching a direct-to-video release, even one with decent talent like this one. "Good Advice" still isn't great comedy, but it's better than the usual mediocre material that bypasses theaters, offering a decent amount of twists and a fair amount of laughs. Charlie Sheen plays Ryan Turner, a powerful stockbroker who overhears a possible stock tip when he's golfing with the husband of the woman he's having an fling with.
Soon enough, Ryan runs through his phone book, calling his clients and informing then of this possible gold rush. Minutes later, the market opens and the stock heads South quickly, losing the company its clients and Ryan his job. Ryan's out of luck and out of his high priced apartment, moving in with his snotty girlfriend (Denise Richards, who is probably the best at this sort of role), who manages to write an advice column at the local newspaper, even though she's incredibly mean and insensitive towards those who ask for help. The only reason she's still there is the fact that her contract isn't up.
When Cindy (Richards) leaves to Brazil to be with another man, her paper's editor (Angie Harmon) demands to know where Cindy's columns are. Ryan, needing money, says that Cindy's sick and going to write the columns from home. Although his writings are as insensitive as hers at first, he gradually improves, with a little help from his friend (Jon Lovitz) and his friend's girlfriend (Rosanna Arquette).
The performances aren't half bad at all. While Richards leaves early on (and comes back late), she has some darkly funny moments. Sheen is actually not half bad at all, relaxed and confident in the role, delivering some laughs pretty well. Harmon also does a convincing job going from strict-to-sweet, as well. The movie doesn't always work wonderfully, but it coasts along on its performances and good-hearted nature (unexpectedly, the movie has some pretty touching moments, as well). I didn't love it, but I certainly liked it. Solid ending, too.
VIDEO: Artisan presents "Good Advice" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan on a dual-layer disc. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is certainly one of Artisan's best efforts in recent months, as the picture quality maintained the kind of shine seen in most major-studio presentations. Sharpness and detail are excellent, as the picture presented cinematographer Daryn Okada ("Texas Rangers")'s cinematography crisply and clearly.
A few little problems did arise, but they were certainly nothing that bothersome. Early on in the show, a couple of minor specks were seen on the print used, as was some grain. A tiny bit of edge enhancement showed, but no pixelation was seen.
Colors were vivid and bright, appearing nicely saturated and without smearing or other flaws. Black level was solid, while flesh tones were natural and accurate.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Given that this is a low-budget comedy soundtrack, I wasn't expecting much from the soundtrack. Yet, the score actually maintains a decent presence in the room, occasionally reinforced by the surrounds. The rear speakers also offer the infrequent sound effect, but otherwise remain quiet. Certainly nothing spectacular, but still fairly nice audio, considering the material.
MENUS: Some minor animation livens menus that are set-up like a newspaper.
Commentary: Director Steve Rash provides a pretty informative discussion of the production of this smaller picture, even remembering what day scenes were shot on and little things like how certain scenes were shot towards the end of an eighteen hour day. He also chats about working with the cast, offers some technical details and once or twice discusses how Richards and Sheen became a couple after this film.
Trailers: Trailers for "Good Advice", "Dr. T and the Women", "Picking Up The Pieces", "Novocaine", "Van Wilder", "Rambo Trilogy" and "Dune: Special Edition".
Final Thoughts: "Good Advice" isn't always without problems, but it's a better movie than I expected and the performances are very good. Artisan's DVD provides good audio/video and a decent supplement. While I wouldn't advice a purchase sight-unseen, I'd say "Good Advice" is certainly worth looking at as a rental first.
The Film ***