Don Verdean Blu-ray Review

Don Verdean is a biblical archaeologist who, a decade prior, could sell out stadiums filled with devoted fans, who would come to see him and have their faith renewed. One of his most profound findings was the scissors used to cut off Samson’s hair, thus ridding him of his strength.

Don Verdean

Now, Don (Sam Rockwell, who also starred in the POLTERGEIST remake this year) is a faded and challenged wannabe-professional. He can barely fill a small church and those that once took photographs with him now claim to not know him. He is merely a grain of what he used to be. He is informed that a well-respected pastor, Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride, showing again that a return to Kenny Powers would be much welcome), would like to meet with him. Tony is concerned that the nation is turning against religion. Thinking that people need truth and evidence to again believe, Tony recruits Don to pull out an artifact as proof.

Don Verdean

The artifact in question is Lot’s wife. (For those who don’t attend church on a fairly regular basis or take the bible to the can when at a hotel, Lot’s wife “became a pillar of salt after she looked back at Sodom.”—courtesy of Wikipedia.) Don brings back the piece and puts it on display. Many are impressed, but he is soon challenged by a pastor (Will Forte, Fox’s THE LAST MAN ON EARTH) who wants tests done. Rounding out the supporting characters are Don’s partner Carol (Amy Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s BRIDGE OF SPIES), who accompanies him on a trip to the Valley of Elah, and an excavator named Boaz (Jemaine Clement, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS), apparently a professional in his field.

DON VERDEAN might be categorized as a satire. The only issue there is that the movie isn’t smart or funny enough to really comment on anything. Is the movie poking fun at the sort of evangelists that bring grown men to their knees sobbing? Or maybe those that buy into religion as fact? Or maybe bringing up the greed that is so easy to buy into? It appears to be a combination. But even still, it’s quite tame and the viewer may wonder why the {ahem} digs are so shallow.

Don Verdean

There are some amusing moments, as when Don plots to pawn off the skull of a dead wrestler with gigantism as that of Goliath, but these don’t amount to much. Instead, the bulk of the source of humor is put on the caricatures and shtick found in the characters of Don, Boaz, Tony and Pastor Fontaine, in estimated ascending order of intolerability. All the while, the plot putters in the circles and the ideas run short.

Don Verdean

DON VERDEAN, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, is directed by Jared Hess and co-written by Jerusha Hess, the siblings responsible for NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, NACHO LIBRE and GENTLEMEN BRONCOS. If those movies worked for you, then DON VERDEAN may, too. But it won’t get the laughs it’s actually going for since the brothers Hess don’t have the smarts for satire.


Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This transfer offers an overall soft image, although details and colors are relatively good.

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The dialogue is clean and comes through without any detectable issues.

Audio commentary with director Jared Hess: Hess offers a passable track, but it is strictly for fans of his and DON VERDEAN.

Digging In: Behind the Scenes of DON VERDEAN (2:27): This brief featurette features interviews with Sam Rockwell, Danny McBride, Amy Ryan and more.

Behind the Sounds Featurette (9:05): Hess and some of the sound crew discuss the use of post-production sound in the movie.



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