Transamerica DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers and the rest of the cast are terrific.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers and the rest of the cast are terrific.
THE BAD
It would have been interesting to see a doc*mentary on transsexuals to get their opinions of the film.
THE FEATURE
While I admit that I voted for Reese Witherspoon in the SAG Awards and I wanted her to win the Oscar, I sadly didn't get around to seeing Transamerica. Now, it's not that Witherspoon didn't give a terrific performance as June Carter in Walk the Line, but Felicity Huffman not only gave an amazing performance in this film, she completely transformed herself. It is uncanny how she was able to pull off this character with such strong nuance, that it never calls attention to the fact that there is a beautiful woman underneath. In fact, in many ways she gives Charlize Theron a run for her money in her Oscar winning performance as Aileen Wuornos in Monster.

Huffman plays Bree Osbourne. A Golden Girls-type transsexual who is closing on having surgery to remove the appendage known as her penis. She finds out she has a son named Toby (the unheralded Kevin Zegers) and is somewhat forced into getting to know him by giving him a ride to California. What ensues is an interesting road trip in which Bree ultimately learns more about herself and Toby, and at the end of the day they both come to a greater understanding of one another.
THE EXTRAS
Bloopers Reel

To be quite honest, I expected this to be funnier than it was. It was filled with all kinds of mistakes and flubbed lines, but it was awkwardly cut together so that I was unable to decipher what I was supposed to be laughing at. Watch these for yourself, you might get more out them than I did.

Travelin' Through Video with Dolly Parton and Making Of

The video mixes footage of Dolly Parton in the studio with various scenes from the movie. There really isn't anything that special about the video so one wonders why there is a making of it on this disc? Also, how in the world did this song get nominated for an Academy Award when it wasn't in the movie until the end credits?

Conversations With the Actors

These are separately shot conversations (and seperate segments) on this DVD with Felicity Huffman and Kevin Zegers. I really liked these a lot because Duncan Tucker interviews them. One can tell that this is a project that was close to his heart, and it also seems like he was amazed by what these actors brought to their roles. Zegers is just in awe of Huffman and her work ethic, while Huffman talks about the script and becoming Bree. Some very good, honest and candid stuff here.

Commentary with Duncan Tucker

Tucker explains the various images and metaphors on this track. The biggest one being that the film is about "finding your voice." What I enjoy is that he never seems to lose himself in all that he is saying, but this track never felt like it was overloaded with information. He discusses stealing shots, how this film is a road movie and even breaks down the components of that. All in all, something to certainly check out on this disc.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen Version presented to preserve the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for Widescreen TVs. This film is almost subversive in it's look. When a movie like Go Fish came out, it depicted lesbians through very grainy, low budget almost falling apart images. Now, we have a film like Transamerica which is shot like a Sandra Bullock movie. While there isn't anything about this movie's look that will grab cinephiles, I think it's ability to present it's subject matter in a "palatable" way is something that surely helps it's audience prospects. And shows just how mainstream this film is.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital. Close Captioned. The main thing I noticed about the audio on this disc was how Felicity Huffman changed up her voice. Hearing her talk in real life and then seeing her in this movie, one might never suspect that this was even the same person. In fact, Duncan Tucker tells the story about how Harvey Weinstein was screening the film and it wasn't until 20 minutes in that he realized Bree was Felicity Huffman.
THE PACKAGE
There are two front covers. One is a covering for the DVD that features Felicity Huffman as herself and then if you turn it a little she becomes Bree. The other front cover has various shots of the people who make up this cast, with a collage of different colored boxes as the background. The back covering shows Felicity walking along a map of America, with Kevin Zegers looking on behind her. There is a short description of what this movie is about, a "Special Features" listing, a cast list and technical specs. The back cover of the actual DVD case gives us more shots from the film and other than that, everything else is the same.
THE FINAL WORD
Director Duncan Tucker points out that this film is very much a road movie and is even classical in it's approach. I think that this is an interesting point to make, if for no other reason than it debunks myths that we might have about transsexuals. Aside from the fact that Bree is a actually a man named Stanley who wants to be a woman, Huffman plays her as a very conservative, almost strait laced person. In fact, I think this is where a lot of the comedy resides because she forced to inhabit Toby's world, someone who is "normal," and we see that he is much less together than she is.

Overall, Transamerica is a solidly put together road movie about family and being comfortable with who you are. If I could recast my vote, I certainly think that Felicity Huffman deserved the Best Actress honors that went to others at all the award shows.

Do you like this review?

Comments