May DVD Review

Written by Steve Pattee

DVD released by Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Written and directed by Lucky McKee
2002, Region 1 (NTSC), 93 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on July 15th, 2003

Starring:
Angela Bettis as May Dove Canady
Jeremy Sisto as Adam Stubbs
Anna Faris as Polly
Nichole Hiltz as Ambrosia

Movie:

Poor May.

Diagnosed with a lazy eye at a young age, she is an outcast among her peers. It doesn't help that he mother has her wear an eye patch to cover up the drifter. Hey, unless you are a pirate, kids don’t think eye patches are cool.

May’s mother suggests the obviously friendless girl make her own friends — dolls. For May’s birthday, her mother gives her the very first doll she made when she was May’s age. Finally, May has her very first friend.

Fast forward to the present. Now an incredibly shy adult — probably due to her childhood — May’s eye has been corrected, but only when she is wearing her glasses. Walking to work one day, she notices the man of her dreams — well, his hands anyway. May does not notice “people,” she notices parts. “You know how when you meet someone, and you think you like them, but then the more you talk to them you see parts you don’t like. Like that guy on the bench. And sometimes you don’t end up liking any parts at all. But the boy I saw today is different. I like every part of him. Especially his hands. They’re beautiful.” she tells her doll.

Having obtained contacts, May does her best to get the attention of Adam, the man — who has the hands — of her dreams. After an incredibly uncomfortable encounter in a coffee shop and an equally uncomfortable chance meeting at a laundromat, a relationship between the two blossoms.

However, before the relationship can fully bloom, Adam discovers May to be a little weird. At first, Adam thought he liked weird, but weird is a relative term. May is so weird she’s not even in the town of Strangeville — she’s the queen of the planet Neurosa. After Adam tries to break contact with May, she turns stalker-esque. Finally, May gets the hint. Frustrated and devastated, May decides to make the perfect boyfriend — this time from human body parts.

Review:

Some of the toughest reviews to write are the movies I have really liked. With Willard, I got extremely lucky and the words were there for me. However, with The Devil’s Backbone, my words were not enough to describe my love for the movie. May is another Backbone. It’s hard to find the words to describe how much I truly enjoyed this film.

First, the acting. The core cast is outstanding. Bettis is perfectly cast as May. I first saw Bettis in Carrie (2002) and I was so impressed with her performance, I purchased May. I had read a lot about the movie on the Web, but that was not why I picked up the DVD; Bettis was. And I was not disappointed. She really nails the lonely and misunderstood May. You feel her embarrassment when she first meets Adam. You feel her pain when Adam shuns her. You feel her sorrow at the loss of Adam. An excellent performance.

Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn, TV’s “Six Feet Under”) is terrific as Adam. I’ve seen Sisto in many other roles and he is impressive as the laid-back boyfriend. You actually believe he feels bad for the way the relationship ended. Yet, you also understand why Adam treats May the way he does. He’s not given much of a choice.

Rounding out the key characters is Anna Faris (Scary Movie, The Hot Chick) as Polly, May’s unruly co-worker. Faris is best known for her roles in the Scary Movie franchise, but in May, she raises the bar. Polly is comical, but not in the “ha-ha funny” way, more in the “uncomfortable laugh” way. You can tell the character is one that is completely out of her mind. Like a sociopath. Polly may very well be crazier than May.

Bettis, Sisto and Faris — if they can avoid being typecast — are three up-and-coming actors to keep an eye on.

Some scenes between Adam and May are painful to watch — because we’ve all been there. New relationships are always tough because you are always concerned about saying — and doing — the right thing. And May never says, or does, the right thing. It only gets worse when Adam cuts ties with her. Sometimes, actors can make a screenplay appear better than it is, and the ones in May did exactly that — they took a decent script and made a magnificent movie.

There a thousand other good things I could write about that is good about this movie, but the bottom line is this a great — albeit depressing — movie.

As much as I enjoyed May, however, there are two things that hurt it. The first is it is a little too predictable. Unfortunately, nothing in the movie really surprised me. May relies on a formula to tell its story, and while the performances were terrific, the story is a little of a let down. I wanted a deeper tale. While the script was fantastic on the outside, it was missing a little in the middle. It’s as if you ordered a chicken pot pie and found — while the crust was mouth-watering delicious — there were only two pieces of chicken in the mix of peas and carrots. The pie is still good, but you wish it had more meat.

Also, the melodramatic ending was too over-the-top. I saw it coming and — like a car crash — there was nothing I could do to stop it and I had to watch it anyway. I don’t know if the director’s intention was to go for a shocking ending, but the finale’ was neither. Only a minor disappointment in an otherwise fantastic movie.

That said, consider the two minor problems exactly that — minor. It’s like buying a greatest hits compilation of your favorite band that has of you favorites, save one. That song shortage doesn’t make the CD bad — it may even be your favorite CD — but every time you play it, you think of what could have been.

Video and Audio:

Presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen, May is a good looking film. A little soft, but that works to the movie’s advantage. The blacks are solid, the colors are full and there are no specks or grain.

The movie’s 5.1 Dolby digital soundtrack sounds good. Mainly dialogue driven, this not a movie that will work out your speakers, but the audio was always crisp and clear.

English and Spanish subtitles are available.

Special Features:

  • 2 Cast and Crew Commentaries
  • Trailer

A surprising lack of special features for this disc. Usually, lesser known — or lower budgeted — movies have more to offer on special features, but there seems to be an exception here.

The first commentary includes Lucky McKee (director), Bettis, Steve Yedlin (director of photography), Nichole Hiltz (“Ambrosia”), Chris Sivertson (editor) and Bret Roberts (“distraught man in the vet clinic”). While a packed room, there are not a lot of people talking over one another. A few tidbits are learned throughout the commentary, but it is more of a recording of a bunch of friends hanging out than a commentary. Not to say it was not worth a listen too, but it isn’t worth a second one.

The second commentary features McKee again, Jaye Barnes Luckett (music supervisor), Leslie Keel (production designer), Ryan Johnson (editor) and Benji (food guy). This commentary is a little better than the first as far as information, as well as a little more humorous, but it suffers from the same problem as the first commentary. Still, it’s obvious the cast and crew had a great time filming the movie and it shows. For the next movie’s commentary, McKee should keep the participants under three people.

Grades:

 
Movie:
Video:
Audio:
Features:
Overall: 3 Star Rating

Conclusion:

While not a “traditional” horror movie — the violence doesn’t even show up until about the last third of the movie — May is a solid movie. Outstanding cast performances make this a good addition to your collection.

 

 

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About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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