Although Reese Witherspoon's performance would be reason enough to watch this film, the script is smart, the rest of the cast is perfect, and the director has an amazing visual style. I'm a bit puzzled why it's not better known; this is nearly as good as The Usual Suspects (in some respects, better), which made loads of money. Hopefully Best Laid Plans will gain some appreciation on video. It's certainly been given the royal treatment on DVD. But more on that later.
It's best not to know even rudimentary details about the film's plot before seeing it; suffice it to say that the characters played by Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, and Alessandro Nivola become involved with each other in a messy and complicated way, and with the usual human vices: sex, money, drugs. As the title implies, those best laid plans soon spin in unpreditable directions and each character tries to turn the consequences to their own best advantage.
In the end, the film is also a love story, which might surprise anyone who hasn't seen the likes of Bound, but it's not a love story in the same way Bound is, either. (And I'm not just talking about Bound's lesbian aspects.) If you like films with intelligent stories, this is one you should definitely check out.
Colors are very important in Plans, and DVD is a terrific showcase for them. From the film itself down to the menus, the color scheme carries through and it all looks great. Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 surround tracks are available, although during the director's commentary we only get mono sound.
This disc is loaded with extras; chief among them is the commentary by director Mike Barker and his assistant, Jeff Bayless. It's easy to tell the two apart, because Barker has a British accent and Bayless an American one. Both Barker and Bayless have great stories to tell about the film's production; Barker likes to talk about the visual compositions while Bayless fills in details about locations and actors. It's obvious that the two became good friends over the course of filming and it's fun to listen to them reminisce without rehashing the plot too much. (In fact, Barker actually withholds information about the plot, assuming that viewers might actually watch the commentary before having seen the film!)
Accompanying the commentary is a fairly worthless "promo" featurette about the film; don't bother watching it, especially before you see the film itself. Also available on the disc is a bevy of deleted scenes, which, like most deleted scenes, fill in more about the story but slow things down. A nice touch here is the inclusion of text pieces introducing each deleted scene and the presence of the film's original opening titles and alternate ending -- which was mercifully changed to the one we see on the film now.
Rounding out the extras are some bios on the cast and crew and the film's trailers; two theatrical and three TV spots.
Chris Holland, 9/19/00