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Coming & Going DVD Review

Coming & Going (2011) DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Coming & Going
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Edoardo Ponti / Writers: Edoardo Ponti, Dewayne Darian Jones / Songs List

Cast: Rhys Darby (Lee Leonetti), Sasha Alexander (Alex Michaels), Fionnula Flanagan (Aunt Irma), Pam Cook (Sue), Michael Cornacchia (Stan), Brian Hooks (Chad Collins), Ivana Milicevic (Ivana), Carla Gallo (Linda), Peter Onorati (Mr. D), Jenica Bergere (Mrs. Jensen), Victor Webster (Worker), Dulce Maria Solis (Lupe)

Original Airdate: July 15, 2011 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: February 7, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $6.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Coming & Going from Amazon.com: DVD • Instant Video

Though it ran for just two seasons, the HBO musical comedy series "Flight of the Conchords" has proved a career launchpad for those who made it. Jemaine Clement has quickly racked up an impressive number of prominent animated and live-action film credits. Bret McKenzie, the other half of the quirky New Zealand folk duo, hasn't been as busy, but he recently won raves for his work as music supervisor and songwriter on The Muppets and that delightful film,
directed by "Conchords" co-creator James Bobin, has made him an Oscar nominee and expected winner. Kristen Schaal popped up in that film, Clement's Dinner for Schmucks, and dozens of other movies and TV shows (perhaps most memorably, as the voice of Toy Story 3 triceratops Trixie) in just the past two years; her breakthrough role came as the band's one devoted and obsessive fan.

Then there is Rhys Darby, arguably the best part of "Conchords" as Murray Hewitt, the endearingly naοve man who moonlights as band manager from the desk of his job at the New Zealand Consulate in New York. Darby hasn't had the best of luck outside of "Conchords." He did steal scenes as Jim Carrey's boss in Yes Man and was one of many who appeared in Richard Curtis' flop ensemble dramedy called Pirate Radio here (and The Boat That Rocked in its native UK). There was talk that Darby might replace Steve Carell as the new boss on "The Office", but like the far less perfect rumors involving Tim Allen and Harvey Keitel, it didn't pan out and we're left with out-of-place James Spader and a show glaringly past its expiration date. Darby made it to network television last fall, but in a supporting role on CBS' traditional sitcom "How to Be a Gentleman", which became one of the season's first cancellations after just three episodes were aired.

Before that show's disappearing act, Darby starred in Coming & Going, a romantic comedy that premiered on TNT last summer, a familiar venue to co-star Sasha Alexander of the network's lady crime drama "Rizzoli & Isles."

In "Coming & Going", able-bodied obstetrician Lee Leonetti (Rhys Darby) uses a wheelchair so as not to endanger his relationship with socially conscious lawyer Alex Michaels (Sasha Alexander).

Darby plays Lee Leonetti, a shy Kiwi expatriate in California, who works as an obstetrician and shares a duplex with his Aunt Irma (Fionnula Flanagan, making no attempt at a New Zealand accent). Slipping during a yoga class, Lee pulls his groin, which puts him in a wheelchair the first time he properly meets Alex (Alexander), a lawyer who specializes in immigration cases. Lee and Alex have parked next to each other for seven years; Lee has noticed her and likes what he sees. For almost hitting him, Lee invites him to a date at a hip club. There, circumstances demand that Lee, who Alex assumes is disabled, to get back in the wheelchair, even though his injury is healed.

The two have a fantastic night, you see, because the movie has the audacity to suggest that the handicapped don't have it so bad. Friendly ladies put their hands on his knees and Lee is the life of the party popping wheelies on the dance floor. They see each other again, with Lee believing that maintaining his immoral charade is the only way to keep this relationship going. Irma (more frequently called "Kiki") disapproves and does her part to embellish the lie, giving Lee impotence to go with his paraplegia. With her fear of intimacy and history of one-night stands, Alex doesn't mind, thinking Lee a great friend and a confidante. Needless to say, Lee has likewise fallen head over wheels for her.

How long can the movie serve up this romance founded on an outlandish lie? For the majority of its 93-minute runtime. It does get some support from another storyline, involving the conception efforts of Alex's roommate/sister Sue (Pam Cook), an abstinence teacher, and her husband Stan (Michael Cornacchia), a newly-cast costumed performer on the type of children's show that hasn't existed in decades. One drunken night, Sue deflowers a colleague (Brian Hooks) and shortly thereafter, she is pregnant and confiding the paternal uncertainty to her doctor, who, of course, is Lee.

Sue (Pam Cook) and Stan (Michael Cornacchia) eagerly accept fertility advice from Dr. Leonetti, but without agreeing on one common eyeline. Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan is on hand as Aunt Irma ("Kiki") to condemn her nephew's disability deception.

The A-story romance is a substandard take on standard fare, hindered by the ludicrous deception but helped by the always game Darby's verbal gymnastics. The pregnancy B-plot involving the sister and brother-in-law, however, is utterly hopeless. There is no way that the movie wouldn't be improved by simply cutting out all of that secondary content; it would likely trim the movie to an unusual hour length and would require a different ending and probably at least one standard issue best friend as sounding board, but the movie would be a lot closer to tolerable then. Alas, that was probably too much to salvage in the editing room and a low-budget production had no chance at doing reshoots.

Despite the official production company synopsis' label of "irreverent", the movie makes sure no one is offended by the prospect of an able-bodied person posing as handicapped, through the character of Aunt Irma and the inevitability of a big teaching moment. This is a disappointing production, even by the lax standards of cable television romcoms. Darby's immense talent qualifies him for so much more than this starring role and fifth billing on "How to Be a Gentleman." Is it his easily understood accent that's standing in the way of the stardom he so clearly deserves?
Why was he not in The Muppets? Why does he not have a single upcoming credit on IMDb? Maybe it's his own choosing and a preference to continue the stand-up comedy he's known for. But it's tough to imagine him choosing Coming and "Gentleman" over anything at all and moving his family to Los Angeles on the basis of the latter.

Though deceptive advertising is nothing new in movies, the DVD cover art of Coming & Going takes the practice far, keeping the wheelchair out of the picture (save for the title logo's odd twist on the familiar handicap symbol), portraying the leads as young and hip in their jeans and tall boots respectively, and, most egregiously, placing a chihuahua poodle hybrid that features in a single 1-minute scene front, center, and large. Obviously, the target is young women who are wont to watch romantic comedies even without big name stars attached to them. I kind of doubt many of them will give this a chance or find anything redeeming here. And though Alexander is building herself something of a fanbase, romantic comedy is not a natural leap from procedural dramas, as the actress proves here with help from her husband, Edoardo Ponti, son of Sophia Loren and the movie's director, co-writer, and producer.

Dr. Leonetti (Rhys Darby) goes to extreme lengths to preserve his imagined disability, even crawling around on the ground as needed. It's goodbye, briefly-seen dog and hello, never-seen city on the Coming & Going DVD main menu.

On DVD, Coming & Going runs about nine minutes longer than a modern two-hour timeslot would allow it to. Unrated, it includes one F-bomb, a posterior, and more sexual content than you'd find on TNT. Frankly, the MPAA might have made them tone down some of the erection humor to earn a PG-13, had this been sent to them for classification.


Coming & Going predictably appears in 1.78:1 and is enhanced for 16:9 displays. Not too unusual for Echo Bridge, the picture is soft, unfocused, and slightly fuzzy, looking like a Barbara Walters TV special. Colors are blown out, interlacing is prevalent, and detail is lacking for DVD. The disc disappoints in the sound department as well as the picture.

First of all, the audio is offered only in Dolby Stereo 2.0 and not the standard 5.1 channels that virtually every non-Woody Allen movie today is created in. Adding insult to injury, the studio foregoes both subtitles and closed captioning as they typically do. The movie actually includes a few burned-in subtitles to translate foreign dialogue that's part of Alex's work. The audio is passable, but certainly falls short of the crisp, clear, directional mixes that are now standard even for basic cable.


No bonus features. Echo Bridge isn't a big fan of them and certainly didn't seek any out when they bought the rights to this independent film last May. The static, silent main menu, a wide reformat of the cover art (minus irrelevant dog, plus irrelevant city skyline and random color changes), offers just "Play" and "Chapter Selection", the latter which consists of an image-free chapter list that isn't even navigated in all the obvious ways. I'm not in marketing, but wouldn't it have made sense to include some trailers for some of the studio's other romantic comedies or cable TV movies instead of letting them remain obscure?

Romcom romantic dinner meeting. Murray: present. Sasha Alexander, Isles of "Rizzoli & Isles": present.


Poor Rhys Darby. The one man that could have saved "The Office" from a shark jump is reduced to an immediately axed CBS sitcom and this unfortunate romcom Coming & Going. Judd Apatow, Adam McKay, David Wain, James Bobin, and anyone else in comedy, please give this man some work. Maybe American superstardom isn't in the cards for this Kiwi, but I am positive he can make comedy gold out of the right roles. The one upside to the lack of a breakthrough is that it clears Darby to reprise his best character to date in a "Conchords" movie, which the cast (but not yet HBO) has expressed interest in doing.

Getting back to Coming & Going (a lazy title that holds no particular relevance to the movie), you don't need to see it and very likely wouldn't enjoy it, nor would doing so give you much indication of the genius work Darby has elsewhere proved himself extremely capable of. To boot, the DVD is as lackluster as the movie, with its underwhelming presentation and complete lack of extras and standard features. I guess you can't expect more than the barebones from a $6.99 SRP Echo Bridge DVD.

Buy Coming & Going on DVD from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Featuring Rhys Darby, Sasha Alexander, and Fionnula Flanagan: Yes Man
Sasha Alexander: He's Just Not That Into You • Action Packed: T.V. Sets
Fionnula Flanagan: The Guard • Kill the Irishman • A Christmas Carol (2009)
Cable Television: Labor Pains • 12 Men of Christmas • Beauty & the Briefcase • Maneater • Mean Girls 2 • Lemonade Mouth
TNT: Leverage: The Third Season • HawthoRNe: The Complete First Season • Raising the Bar: The Complete First Season
Blind Dating • Due Date • Wedding Daze • Multiple Sarcasms • The Lightkeepers • Life As We Know It • Knocked Up

The Cast of Flight of the Conchords:
Jemaine Clement: Eagle vs Shark • Rio • Dinner for Schmucks • Gentlemen Broncos • Despicable Me
Kristen Schaal: Scared Shrekless • Toy Story 3 • When in Rome • Going the Distance

Coming & Going Songs List: Victor Algranti - "Solyo Y Cansado", Marion Verbruggen - "The Four Seasons -- 1. Allegro", E. Steijilen - "Ibiza", 3 Bad Brothaz - "Rah! It's Game Time", The Yum Yums - "Too Good to Be True", Buzz Amato - "Keep Dat Body Movin'", Poppa Steve - "Linda's Kisses", "Hey Mama", Rique Pantoja - "Cool of the Night", "Happy Barn Show Theme", "Castaways", "Mr. Spiffy", Poppa Steve - "Off the Hook", Rique Pantoja & Luiz de Aquino - "No Surprise", Monique - "Wo Sind Sie?", Poppa Steve - "LP's from Comay's"

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Reviewed February 4, 2012.

Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Films 1402M, PicturePlay Films, Bennett-Robbins Productions, and 2012 Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.