DVD Review by Kam Williams
Witherspoon and Dern’s Oscar-Nominated Outing Released on DVD
Cheryl Strayed’s (Reese Witherspoon) life went into a tailspin right after the untimely death of her mother (Laura Dern). The grief-stricken 22 year-old subsequently became emotionally estranged from the people closest to her, including her husband, Paul (Thomas Sadowski), and her brother, Leif (Keene McRae).
And by the time she had finally bottomed out several years later, she was all alone and addicted to heroin. Yet she somehow summoned up the strength to set out on a transformational, solo trek along the Pacific Coast Trail that would take her from the Mojave Desert in California all the way north to the border of Washington and Oregon.
The perilous, 1,100 mile journey would prove to be Cheryl’s salvation, as it afforded her an opportunity to purge her demons while conquering the elements. That magical metamorphosis would also become the subject of her best-selling memoir, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail,” an Oprah Book Club selection.
Adapted to the screen by scriptwriter Nick Hornby (An Education) this touching tale of female empowerment landed Academy Award nominations for Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern in the Best Lead and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively. The picture was directed by another Oscar nominee, Jean-Marc Vallee, whose Dallas Buyers Club netted Oscars for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto just a year ago.
Unfortunately, this flashback flick fails to generate the same sort of sobering gravitas which made Dallas so effectively gripping. Consequently, it unfolds less like the similarly-themed Into the Wild (2007), a riveting survival saga, than Eat Pray Love (2010), another relatively-lighthearted romp about a woman finding herself.
Wild is an uneven endeavor which undercuts its own cause by including intermittent interludes of comic relief, such as when Cheryl’s overstuffed backpack repeatedly causes her to topple over. Hence, rather than ratcheting up the tension of a harrowing ordeal, the film merely recounts the assorted highs and lows of a poorly-planned camping trip run amuck.
Reese Witherspoon nevertheless delivers a decent enough performance to singlehandedly elevate an otherwise mediocre adventure to an entertaining one worth recommending.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and drug use
Running time: 115 minutes
Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: The Real Cheryl Strayed; The Real Location Is the Best Location; How Much Does a Monster Weigh?; The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Interactive Map; deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Jean-Marc Vallée; 7 promotional featurettes; audio commentary by Jean-Marc Vallée, and producers Bruna Papandrea and David Greenbaum; Experiencing the PCT: A Special Message From Cheryl Strayed; stills gallery: and the theatrical trailer.
To order Wild on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/