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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/2/00

Keeping the Faith
2000 (2000) - Touchstone (Buena Vista)

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Keeping the Faith Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/B

Specs and Features

129 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at approx 39:28 in chapter 12), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with director Edward Norton and writer/producer Stuart Blumberg), 10 deleted scenes with commentary, production gag reel, 4 theatrical trailers (for Keeping the Faith, High Fidelity, The Cider House Rules and Mission to Mars), cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Spanish, Closed Captioned

Rabbi Schram: "Oy."

Father Finn: "Amen to your Oy."

It's the little discoveries that make going to the movies worthwhile. I love Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 as much as the next guy, but no matter what, the most memorable films are the little gems. They aren't great based on special effects or super-huge stars. They're great because of good chemistry, smart scripts and humor you just don't get without a touch of magic involved. Keeping the Faith is one of those little gems.

The story goes like this. Jake Schram and Brian Finn (played by Ben Stiller and Ed Norton) have been friends for as long as they can remember. But when they were younger, their friendship included a third member, Anna (Jenna Elfman). Unfortunately, one day Anna's dad got a job across the country and she moved away. Years later, Jake and Brian are all grown up and living their lives, still the best of friends. Then, out of the blue, Anna shows up again... and the result is a hilarious love triangle. That's not exactly a ground-breaking plot, but there's a twist here. Did I mention that Jake is a Jewish rabbi and Brian is a Catholic priest?

Now that I have your attention, let me officially say that Norton, Stiller and Elfman have the kind of chemistry that every filmmaker dreams of. The script here is also top-notch, full of witty dialogue. One part great screenplay and three parts good chemistry combine to produce a magical little ensemble piece, that will have you cracking up the whole way through. Keeping the Faith also manages to convey a touch of sincerity and depth, without resorting to heady drama. That's harder to do than you think, especially given that this film marks Ed Norton's first turn behind the camera. The fact that he pulls this film off so well makes it a must-see. The only downside is that the film runs a little long. Clocking in at just over two hours, it probably could have been shaved down to maybe an hour and a half. As it is, some really great scenes were cut in order to save time (they're available on this DVD separately), so Norton did the best he could. And his best is pretty damn good, let me tell you.

The video on this disc, while not fabulous, is very good. The anamorphic widescreen image is a little soft at times, but still retains a very natural look. The colors are muted but accurate and the contrast is solid throughout. The audio is also solid, but since we're not talking super-action-blow-out film here, don't expect your speakers to get a workout. Still, the audio does possess a certain ambient quality that comes through well in this mix. The music sounds fine and the dialogue, which is the real strength of this film, is perfectly balanced. On the whole, not bad.

This film did do well at the box office, and garnered enough of an audience to justify the release of a good special edition DVD. The disc includes an above-average (and surprisingly insightful) commentary with Ed Norton and writer/producer Stuart Blumberg. This commentary extends itself to a nice collection of deleted scenes, one of which is absolutely hilarious. I won't say which one it is, but let me just say that when Anna says, "I have a relationship with my phone. It's set to vibrate," in this film, she wasn't kidding. A production gag reel and some trailers (for this film and others) round out a good bonus section.

Keeping the Faith is a wonderfully simple and, some may complain, predictable little ensemble film. But it's such a good ensemble, with such good chemistry and humor, that you can't help but fall in love with it. Add in some nice supplements and solid video and audio, and you've got a disc that's well worth buying. Plus, it's a great date flick. So c'mon - diversify that DVD collection!

Brad Pilcher
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