REVIEW: free Amazon Prime movie: “The Other End of the Line” (2008) PG-13

The Other End of the Line

I had not planned on doing a movie review right now.  I had planned to carefully choose an old favorite or a new release.  However, I watched this movie a couple days ago and then watched it again today with my spouse.  In my book, anything worth watching a second time is worth recommending.  Amazon tells me it is free for only 3 more days.  So the tyranny of the urgent wins out in this case.

Click here: The Other End of the Line.  FREE with Amazon Prime through 3/31.  After that, $2.99 for rental.

INTRO: Amazon Prime free movies – helping you find hidden gems

This will be the first of many reviews of this type – movies that (at the time of the post) are free with Amazon Prime … which I usually pick rather randomly.

I have been an Amazon Prime member from the beginning.  At first, it was just for the shipping benefits.  Over the years, the benefits have expanded and I have tried to make use of them.  I have watched many old favorites (from 1940s screwball comedies to 1960s beach romps to 1980s John Hughes classics).  I have binged watched several tv shows that I missed (or avoided) when they originally aired.

However, one of the most delightful things is to stumble upon a “hidden gem” and watch it on a hunch – could be the summary, trailer, reviews, an actor’s name I recognize, the poster art – but something will get me to take a chance and at least watch the first 10 minutes.  I will pass along recommendations to you here, on Twitter, and/or Facebook.

REVIEW:

As modern romantic comedies go, The Other End of the Line is better than average.  I am a fan of the genre, particularly when I am in the mood for something fluffy, something that requires little thought.  (Apropos, as amusement = without thought.)  If you appreciate an old-fashioned “meet cute” scenario, then you’ll delight in getting to see the leading man meet his love twice.  In real life, he might have overlooked her, as he was busy trying to land an account with a big client and was already involved with a woman who was perfect for him, at least “on paper.”  However, this is fiction – an unabashedly romantic comedy, at that – so it should not be surprising that he notices her.

One theme that has been already done, but well executed in this film, is the clash of two cultures.  If you enjoy seeing two people choose love over what is expected in their respective worlds (think: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham, Fools Rush In, etc.), then you are sure to enjoy this movie.   To say much more than that would be unnecessary and could be considered spoiler.

When watching a movie or tv show in the comfort of my home, I almost always have some device in my hand or on my lap so that I can investigate the credits on IMDB.  A professor of mine once pointed out that you find out the most interesting things in the footnotes, credits, liner notes, etc. – and I have repeatedly found her words to be true.  So rather than give you a rehashing of the plot, I will choose to point out some of the talent associated with this project.

The performances are solid, the acting (while not necessarily Oscar-worthy) is believable.  The roles were well cast, particularly for the genre.  There are recognizable faces for viewers of various ages: Anupam Kher (Jesminder’s father in Bend It Like Beckham), Austin Basis (J.T. on CW’s Beauty and the Beast), Larry Miller (Paolo the hairdresser in Princess Diaries), Jesse Metcalfe (John Rowland on Desperate Housewives), and Sara Foster (VH1’s new faux-reality show Barely Famous).   For more info: www.imdb.com/title/tt1049405/

As a musician, I always notice the use of music in film, whether it be the placement of popular songs or underscore written for the movie.  In both cases, this was accomplished well (I hate to sound like a broken record) for the genre.  As a result, the remainder of this review will deal with the music.  There are certain things that audiences have come to expect in romantic comedies – the appropriate sprinkling of fun songs during montages (a fun day together or a date night), with the occasional romantic song (a line or two heard prominently before fading into the background for us to hear dialogue), as well as the underscoring (particularly during travel, humorous moments, near kisses).   And if there is a gathering of some sort (party or wedding), then there will inevitably be dance music.  This film ticks all the musical boxes.

Some of the songs in this film have been used repeatedly, but the covers/arrangements found here are well-chosen and deserve a listen on their own merits.  One minor complaint: I feel that it should be noted that the use here of Marie Barnett’s “Breathe” (ASCAP 2002 most recorded song) is out of context.  I recall it was used similarly in a tv commercial – extracting one phrase of lyrics and primarily using it is an instrumental to set a mood.  In this film, it is used as if it were a song of romantic love.  For those familiar with the song, its use here feels a bit odd.  The song was in fact spontaneously sung during a church service in 1995 and subsequently became a popular contemporary worship anthem, recorded by many artists including Michael W. Smith. (More info: http://www.vineyardmusic.com/vm/content/marie-barnett)

The film score was composed by BC Smith.  I must admit that I did not recognize his name, but I was familiar with some of his other credits.  A cursory look at his website, including training mentioned in his bio, indicates that this will not be the last time I run across his name.  Not surprisingly from the score of this film and confirmed by a glance at his credits, he is comfortable in a wide array of musical genres.  He is among the ranks of the (largely) nameless, faceless composers in Hollywood who turn out a stream of quality work.  They do not necessarily have an identifiable “sound” because they are chameleons and thus quite adept at using a variety of dialects within the language of music.  If film music is of interest to you, give his work further consideration: www.bcsmithmusic.com

In conclusion, there are many reasons why it is worth spending 1 hour 45 minutes watching this movie.  It will make you laugh.  It will warm your heart.  You might even watch it a second time.

Until next time.

~~ EJ

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