• OVERALL
    2.5
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
The Door in the Floor is the latest adaptation from the John Irving library. Not since The Cider House Rules in 2000 has an Irving novel been brought to the big screen. Irving himself spent years creating the screenplay to Rules, which resulted in an Academy Award win for the author in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Attempting to follow in the footsteps of Rules, Door in the Floor is packed with tear-jerking circ*mstances and endless drama, but fails to give us a reason to care. Perhaps this film could have used Irving's screenplay craftsmanship.

Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) is a famous children's book author that is traumatized, along with his wife Marion (Kim Basinger), over the loss of his sons in a tragic auto accident. Ted and Marion have drifted apart since the accident despite having daughter Ruth (Elle Fanning) together to reinforce their familial unit. After the couple arranges a marital separation, Ted hires young student Eddie (Jon Foster) to work for him over the summer as a personal assistant.

Upon arriving at the Coles' East Hampton home, the ambitious Eddie takes less of an interest in his writing job, and instead indulges in masturbation sessions over Marion and her undergarments. With Eddie being alone with Marion half of every week thanks to the couple's separation living arrangements, Marion welcomes the young lad into her bed for endless sexual escapades. However, with Ted's passive attitude towards the blatantly obvious affair and elements from the past interlacing with Eddie's arrival in the family's home, it becomes evident that this could be more than a lustful, coincidental infidelity.

There appears to be a potential storyline for Door in the Floor, but it is buried in a jumble of ongoing sadness and confusing characters. Ted nonchalantly struts around in the nude and carries on an affair with his sketch model (Mimi Rogers). While it seems he accepts his wife's unfaithfulness just because their marriage is over, the affair is really part of Ted's devious, selfish agenda. While Marion appears to be satisfying her hunger for sexual gratification, it is hinted that her true motive is to have an emotional connection with a son-like figure. By the end of the film, it seems that all of this drama stems from two self-centered adults that can't get over the deaths of their sons.

While expecting a powerhouse drama, I found The Door in the Floor to be awkward and confusing. In trying to create a fair balance between comedy and drama, the film left me scratching my head. This can be applied to a drawn-out slapstick sequence when Ted's mistress chases him around in her SUV. While somewhat funny, scenes such as these are slightly out of place in the film's sad, depressing environment.

THE EXTRAS
The Making of Door in the Floor

While not discussing so much "the making" of the film, this feature is more of a character study. Director Tod Williams and the actors come together to discuss the motives and dominant traits of the film's main characters. Considering my dissatisfaction with the characters, I found this deep analysis to be enlightening.

Novel to Screen: John Irving

The author himself sits down and dishes out his thoughts on the film. Irving very eloquently explains his book characters and why they work so well in the film. I highly recommend this feature to develop a better understanding of the movie.

Anatomy of a Scene

This is an episode of the winning series from the Sundance Channel that focuses on a specific scene from a film. With The Door in the Floor as the title of choice, this episode details the film's comical farce sequence featuring Ted's mistress chasing him down. While I have problems with the movie because of its misplaced comedy sequences, I find this featurette convincing and fun.

Commentary

Tod Williams and various production crewmembers contribute their thoughts on this feature-length track. This is a quiet boring bunch. While they throw in the occasional production fact, they clearly do not have much to say. Worth skipping.

THE VIDEO
Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. Very fine video quality
THE AUDIO
5.1 Dolby Digital. The emotional score by Marcelo Zarvos is especially worth mentioning here. Everything sounds great!
THE PACKAGE
Standard DVD keepcase, single-sided disc
THE FINAL WORD
Despite the smashing performances by the always-classic Jeff Bridges and the naturally calm Kim Basinger, I found the dry plot and unlikable characters to be a major turnoff.

The special features do give this DVD points, as the spotlight on John Irving is especially involving.

The Door in the Floor is definitely a movie that I would rent once and never see again. I definitely recommend this title as something to take home on a rainy day from the video store, but this is not a DVD that merits repeated viewings.

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