EIGHT DAYS A WEEK - DVD review

Peter watches the neighborhood for entertainment, and, frankly, watching the grass grow would have been more entertaining for me than watching this movie.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.
Puccio

Warner Bros. opened "Eight Days a Week" to limited release in 1997, then shelved it for nine years before offering it on DVD. What did they know that we don't? Well, that depends on your tolerance for another horny-teen flick, no matter that it is less grossly insulting than many of its predecessors.

Michael Davis wrote and directed the movie, the same man who brought us such fare as "100 Days," "Girl Fever," and "Monster Man." He begins "Eight Days a Week" in the most inauspicious manner possible with some loud, raucous, mid-nineties' pop music, which in itself should be enough to warn a few viewers off.

Then we learn from the main character's voice-over that he is a teenager named Peter (Josh Schaefer), just graduated from high school, who has a fixation on a girl in his neighborhood, Erica (Keri Russell), who is going away to college at the end of the summer. He's known Erica most of his life, and he's apparently only now fallen madly in love with her. But she (dread of dreads) "just wants to be friends." Of course, he may have just noticed that Erica is a knockout. It's hard to tell what exactly is going through Peter's mind except that he is obsessed with her and takes every opportunity to stare at her more obvious assets. Erica, for her part, takes delight in exposing as much of herself as possible to Peter without actually removing any of her clothing, like frolicking in the sprinklers in a see-through undershirt.

In his voice-over, Peter exhibits the usual horny-teen movie's preoccupation with breasts and private parts, which earns the film an R rating. (Amazingly, though, for all the movie's sexual references, there is almost no actual sex depicted nor any nudity.)

Anyway, with some encouragement from his grandfather (Buck Kartalian, doing his best Peter Falk imitation, saying "Women are like breaking into a bank: It takes nerve, it takes daring; sometimes you need a little bit of dynamite to blow the vault"), Peter hits upon a plan to win her love: He will camp out under Erica's window on the lawn, day and night, for as long as it takes until she falls in love with him. Yes, he is not only horny, he is an idiot. Especially since Erica already has a boyfriend, a macho hotshot football player named Nick (Johnny Green), who drives a bright red Camero. So Peter sits outside Erica's window for the rest of the movie, and that's about it. Peter's equally horny best friend, Matt (R.D. Robb), helps him pass the time by continually espousing the virtues of self gratification (a watermelon is his object of choice).

As with all adults in all teen movies, the parents in this one are just as idiotic as their offspring, if not more so. Peter's parents lock him out of the house and refuse to feed him during his vigil; while Erica's parents, ultraconservative Christians, are delighted to see somebody interested in their daughter besides the no-good Nick and feed Peter on gingerbread crosses bedecked with what look like sugar-candy Christs.

Nothing in "Eight Days a Week" is too amusing, and the pacing is more than a little flat. Sitting on Erica's front lawn, movie. Peter watches the neighborhood for entertainment, and, frankly, watching the grass grow would have been more entertaining for me than watching this movie.

The only minor note of hope in this hapless affair is when Peter notices a neighbor acting suspiciously, and we get a series of brief references to Hitchcock's "Rear Window." Other than that, we are merely left to wonder what, besides Erica's gorgeous looks, would make Peter so consumed by her, particularly if she is a person who is so attracted to a lunkhead like Nick. Besides, she even thinks that Roger Moore is the best James Bond. Oh, dear.

To be fair, the film does offer in Peter a sweet, if naive, main character for whom we come to have some small sympathy. It is as if somebody at Warner Bros. noticed a similarity between this character and his offbeat ways and the character of Napoleon Dynamite and decided to give this one a second try on disc. But "Napoleon Dynamite" had a quirky, fairly mature sense of humor, whereas "Eight Days a Week" has only a juvenile sense of humor. Besides, the small resemblances between the two movies aren't enough to save "Eight Days a Week" from being a simple bore.

Worse, the film introduces the death of a beloved character and the subject of incurable cancer in another; for a humorous work so light and frivolous as this one, such events appear downright perverse. "Eight Days a Week" is neither a black comedy nor a serious character study, and the interjection of grave subject matter like death and cancer seem calculated only to exploit our emotions by the cheapest possible means. With these several instances of sheer manipulation and a Hollywood ending that comes totally out of left field with no explanation, the movie maintains its general lack of wit and logic to the very last.

At least we know now why WB pulled it from theaters so soon.

Video:
The picture size fills up a 16x9 widescreen TV nicely, but the image quality is not always as well defined as it might be. Most of the time it is somewhat soft. However, a high bit rate and an anamorphic transfer do assure us of bright, deep, rich colors, with grain almost a nonissue. Interestingly, the sharpest image in the film comes in a brief black-and-white flashback episode.

Audio:
The audio arrives via a modest Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, which comes across only a step above monaural in its directional spread. Frankly, there is not much going on here. A touch of musical ambience gets channeled into the rear speakers if you are using Dolby Digital Pro Logic or some similar simulation, but that's about it. The front-channel stereo spread is decent but not extravagant, and things like dynamic range, transient impact, and frequency response appear limited.

Extras:
Needless to say, Warner Bros. were not about to spend much money decking out a DVD with a ton of extras when they knew nobody had heard of the feature film. So what we get are twenty-one scene selections, but no chapter insert; a fullscreen theatrical trailer; English as the only spoken-language choice; and English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

Parting Shots:
For me, the cardinal sin of any comedy is not being funny, and that's how I found "Eight Days a Week"--unfunny. There was hardly a moment when I was even lightly amused by it, either because the timing didn't work, the gags were flat, or the jokes were old hat. This is not a totally bad film; it just doesn't have anything new to offer.

Ratings

Video
7
Audio
6
Extras
2
Film Value
4