Don McKay (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-13-2010, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373697

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109941&d=1210373697

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Image Entertainment - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 90 minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1:78.1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SHD, Spanish
Starring: Thomas Haden Church, Elisabeth Shue, Melissa Leo, M. Emmet Walsh, Keith David
Directed by: Jake Goldberger
Music by: Steve Bramson
Written by: Jake Goldberger
Region Code: Free

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 29, 2010

"Some secrets are better left buried"

Film Synopsis:

In this edgy thriller, Don McKay flees his hometown after a horrendous tragedy and vows never to return. But 25 years later he comes back to find a dark menace looming over the town. As he attempts to rekindle his romance with an old high school girlfriend, Don is pulled into a malevolent world from which he may never escape.

My Take:


‘Don McKay'; Ever heard of it? I bet not, and for good reason. It’s a low budget small scale film that was not good enough to get a wide release or much PR bucks behind it. It misses its intended cool art house indie vibe and was not at aimed at a mainstream crowd. All the great performances in the world cant save a flawed film and that is exactly what we have here.

Don McKay’s (Thomas Haden Church) life didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to. He is a lonely Janitor of a Boston school, lives alone in a small room and is seems to be hiding from the world. He has thought about his high school sweetheart Sonny (Elizabeth Shue) every day for 25 years…In fact he writes to her once every year. When Sonny finally replies, he jumps at his chance to go home and have redemption for a tragic event that happened in his youth. When Don arrives at Sonny's house, he gets his be with Sonny for the rest of her life...but at what price?? I could keep going with my synopsis of the story, which does sound much better on paper, but seeing that it's a mystery, Ill let interested parties see how it unravels (pun intended) on its own.

First time writer and director Jake Goldberger did a commendable job with the look and feel of the film, especially with the first half of the movie. It did putt along a bit slow during the first 45 minutes, though it did make me feel as awkward and uncertain as every character involved; that was the best aspect of the movie. I really had interest and hopes for what was going to play out; unfortunately the twists and payoffs never resonated with me. The last act seemed to suddenly flip into a weird Coen Brothers-esque thriller/dark comedy that never lives up to the shoes it was trying to fill. In retrospect, Thomas Hayden Church's performance was stellar; it was not until his character's story arc was fully realized that his performance made sense. The supporting cast really kept my interest whenever I felt I had had enough (which is never a good thing in a 90 minute film!!). Two of my favorite character actors, M. Emmet Walsh (Blood Simple, Raising Arizona) and Keith David (They Live, Chronicles of Riddick) stole the show with some nice comic relief. An appearance of the sporadic Elizabeth Shue was a good thing, she has aged extremely well and looking at her can make any film bearable!

‘Don McKay' just missed the mark. The characters never connected with me, the twists never shocked or surprised me and it seemed like it had been overwritten to the point where its execution felt too contrived. It held back for so long that when it started to revel itself the film lost its flow and tone. It's too bad really, it had a great idea and cast.

Parental Guide:

Rated R for language and some violence.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 82

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373694

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373698

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373697

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373697

Video: 86

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373697

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373698

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373696

‘Don McKay' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Image Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19.5 mbps and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound that has an average bitrate of 1.9 mbps.

I did enjoy the natural look of ‘Don McKay'. There was no compression related issues to be seen, and the encode didn't seem to have any tinkering. The cinematography by Phil Parmet was perfectly minimalistic, not over lit or stylized and did look like real life; this Blu-ray presentation preserved that look quite well. If anything negative, the colors were a bit muted to match the drab setting and situations, but the skin-tones looked real. It was not the most detailed or sharp Blu-ray to date, but every once and a while fine details did pop out. The shadow detail during the midnight woods scene was great as were the black levels throughout. The Audio track was spot on for a dialogue driven film. The only jump in dynamics is the soundtrack of the oldies song's that added some atmosphere to the film. There is not much LFE and surround action here, not much audio 'wow' factor, but there really needn't be. It seemed tonally balanced with no cruxes that stood out so I cant fault it for that.‘Don McKay's' audio and video presentation are well above average and the best part of this release.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary featuring Director Jake Goldberger and Producer Jim Young

  • (HD) Deleted Scenes

  • (HD) Trailers

Final Thoughts:

‘Don McKay'is the perfect example of a rental. Most people will want to see it based on the cast, and I assume they will give it a spin regardless of a negative review. The cast wont let you down and you might just enjoy the film, however I didn't. It has a pretty weak set of extra features. I did use the audio commentary to go back to a few parts of the film to gain some in site, it was a decent and informative track. The bottom line is that ‘Don McKay' is a good looking and sounding Blu-ray that wont be the worst choice when you find your 'must see' list dwindling.


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-13-2010, 07:04 PM
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Lee, thanks for your review. Guess I'll put this one on the back-burner for now. A movie that even the art-house crowd doesn't want? Elizabeth Shue - woo-hoo! Seriously, it's shame that this cast seems wasted here and you're right, this one flew in under my radar. It seems to be a new era when the writer-director mantle is being bestowed on an ever-growing number of talented people. But I still wince when I see that the director is also the writer.

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post #3 of 8 Old 06-13-2010, 10:12 PM
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I actually saw a preview for this way back and forgot about it. I thought it may have been interesting. Your review has me thinking otherwise, but I think I will still definitely give it a rent. Thanks for the review Lee!
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-14-2010, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
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You are welcome guys.

Dj Matt--It was interesting, just not a great film. Its worth a rent.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-14-2010, 11:44 AM
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Funny how bad movie is reviewed in such a way, that it intrigue me enough to put it in my Que.. Hell I've sent precious life hours on some awful flicks, and walked away half amused. Hey if there weren't any bad films, they would have been all Casablanca's,

Thanks for the great review Lee.

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post #6 of 8 Old 06-14-2010, 12:11 PM
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Nice job Lee. I also thought this looked interesting but will probably pass as I don't have the time to experiment.


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post #7 of 8 Old 07-06-2010, 09:13 AM
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I watched it this weekend because I like Elizabeth Shue and Keith David, and I kept waiting for this movie to take off but it never really did. In the end it was basically watching a lot of talent trying to make something out of nothing.
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-14-2010, 04:06 AM
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I finally got around to watching this and I was really interested in the movie. You were never sure about any of the characters in this movie and I kept guessing as to what the heck was going on. The ending of this movie sort of ruined it for me. It just got too weird for me and Lee puts it perfectly when he says they tried to go into a Coen Brothers-esque type of movie. At this point I wasn't really sure if I was watching some very dark comedy, a thriller, mystery, drama, or all of them put together in one. I thought the movie lost some credibility when it came to this whole thing at the end. Very weird, but still a somewhat interesting film.
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