Memorial Day Blu-ray Review
I’ve always enjoyed war movies though they aren’t usually the ones that I seek out. Instead they are the movies that I find playing on some channel when I channel surf and suddenly I realize that I’ve just spent a couple of hours watching. That said there have been some exceptions, usually movies like MEMORIAL DAY, in spirit at least. Ostensibly a film about a grandfather/grandson relationship, this one suffers from some of the usual issues for a low budget movie with big hopes. But don’t count MEMORIAL DAY out just yet – there are some nice moments in this touching film.
MEMORIAL DAY takes place in present day, on Memorial Day in 1993, and during World War II. It is the story of Bud Vogel (James Cromwell of BABE and I, ROBOT) and his grandson Kyle (played at age 13 by Jackson Bond, INVASION, 2007 and as Staff Sergeant Vogel by Jonathan Bennett from MEAN GIRLS). When Kyle finds a box in the barn at his grandparent’s home, little does he know that he will embark on a journey with his grandfather that will change both of their lives. Inside are relics from World War II and despite warnings to leave it alone, Kyle seeks out his grandfather. After some coaxing Bud agrees to tell Kyle about any three things he chooses.
Soon we’re witnessing the accounts of Bud’s younger days, and seeing direct parallels to his grandson’s future in Iraq. The lessons Bud learned fighting in WWII are the basis for Kyle’s love of the United States, and obviously are the reason that he decided to join the military. Regardless of your feelings about the Iraq war, this is an authentically crafted tale with its heart on its sleeve. Sadly there are a number of issues that make this film just not all that worth it.
To start off, with only a few exceptions the acting and writing are subpar. There’s only so much that can be done with writing that doesn’t deliver a clear voice to each character. Worse, MEMORIAL DAY crams in a lot of misleading little nuances that could deliver emotional resonance but instead result in the audience feeling misled. It is surprising with such glaring issues that the film does hit two things right on the head, the kind of points that are able to elevate the film but not save it from mediocrity. The first is the obvious partnership with the United State Armed Forces; the armed forces scenes in any time period are authentically presented, despite the obviously low budget.
The second, and most important, is the inspired casting of James Cromwell. He is so superb as the elder version of Bud Vogel – both in his delivery and his demeanor he made the role completely his. With the script I’m not sure how he was able to do it – but it almost saves the movie. Almost, though, simply isn’t enough. Despite being relatively interesting, MEMORIAL DAY disappoints; not because it’s bad, but because it just isn’t very good. A lovingly crafted story, this movie will find an audience (if anyone can find it) in our brave service men and women; I’m just not sure the rest of the world will care.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) MEMORIAL DAY has a picture that’s crystal clear and really works in HD in every scene not including blood… those just don’t look good.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio on MEMORIAL DAY is immersive and pulls you in.
Commentary with director Samuel Fischer, writer Marc Conklin, and star John Cromwell (01:47:58) These three speak as though they are friends and they are proud of their effort on MEMORIAL DAY. Like many low-budget films the commentary actually gets you more involved in the film. But you don’t get a whole lot more from them – not a lot of insights for new filmmakers – it’s a pretty standard outing. Worth it for fans of the film only.
Behind the Scenes (01:54) Not a standard feature – this is nearly two minutes of roughly cut and stylishly presented behind the scenes video from the MEMORIAL DAY filming process. Disappointing for its lack of respect to the source material and really poorly edited together it made me nauseous.