Monday, March 10, 2008

Day Zero - DVD Review

DAY ZERO (*1/2) - Starring Elijah Wood, Chris Klein, Jon Bernthal, Ginnifer Goodwin, Elizabeth Moss, Ally Sheedy and Sofia Vassilieva. Directed by Bryan Gunnar Cole.

This movie slipped out onto a handful of screens in January and it's already on DVD. Why? Well, it is another anti-war movie, albeit with the unique theme of a USA where the draft has been re-enstated.

It centers on three friends: Feller the writer (Wood), Dixon the cab-driver (Bernthal) and Rifkin the stockbroker (Klein), all of whom have received their letters in the mail that they have 30 days to report. Each represents a different sociopolitical category, existing for a point of view to be offered. Feller is the middle-class sensitive, can't-we-all-get-along kid. Dixon is the pro-war remember-9/11 blue-collar tough guy. Rifkin is the rich, paranoid preemptive-war-is-wrong guy.

Part of the problem with this scenario is that nothing else about America seems to have changed. A terrorist attack in LA killed 1400 people the year before, so the draft returned. But people's lives otherwise continue as normal. "The people" just went along with it. Another problem is that it's hard to buy three guys so different have been lifelong friends.

So what does this movie add to the debate of war in general? Nothing, really. It's 90 minutes of people debating each other, but none of the arguments hit home runs or conclude anywhere meaningful, and the only suspense is where each of the three will wind up. We know at least one will enlist and at least one will not.

Fine actresses like Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk the Line) and Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) are forced on the sidelines to stand by their men. Ally Sheedy is squandered as a terrible therapist for Feller. Of the three main actors, Bernthal (CBS's The Class) does the best, but other than a take-turns-sharing-secrets session on a boat, none of them get an opportunity to just breathe as a real person and not a screenwriter's concept.

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