“Wasted” has sat in limbo since making waves at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival (previously titled “Farewell Bender“), but while the Weinstein Company has allowed its buzz to cool, this poignant indie still packs an impressive punch on DVD.
Ambitious first feature from co-writer/director Matt Oates wears its cinematic influences on its celluloid sleeve, most notably “American Graffiti” and “The Big Chill,” as stars Kip Pardue, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Josh Cooke play friends from high school who reunite for the funeral of a fourth.
Although the film’s soundtrack has been retooled for the worse (TWC didn’t want to pay to license tracks from Modest Mouse, among others) and its newly generic title does it no favors, this honest, smartly scripted effort retains its raw power thanks to a young cast that expertly captures the feeling of wanting to put off — if not entirely escape — adulthood and all the responsibilities that entails.
The film’s believable characters and realistic dilemmas create a convincing world of bittersweet emotion. Cooke sizzles as the charismatic but self-destructive hothead who keeps his emotions bottled up until they explode in fits of profanity-laced violence. Thomas also registers strong as an average Joe with self-esteem issues, while David Fickas steals several scenes as a fringe member of the group.
DVD contains nearly seven minutes of deleted scenes, most of which were cut for time and pacing, and bring little to the table aside from a choice reference to the original Mario Kart. Cooke, Oates and co-scribe Jeremiah Lowder contribute brief intros .
Disc’s lively audio commentary track is kept light and informative. Naturally, the enthusiastic Oates does most of the talking, speaking as though he may never get the chance to record another DVD commentary, though Lowder does his best to rein him in and keep him in check, while Cooke delivers a healthy dose of sarcasm.
The writers confess to being big fans of “Loveline” and admit they wrote the script with “generational icon” Adam Carolla in mind. We learn Pardue was the first to commit to the film (Cooke initially auditioned for his role) and Thomas signed on the week before production started because the role originally called for an overweight actor and Oates had trouble casting the part, though Thomas’ inherent awkwardness effectively communicates the character’s insecurities. It’s also revealed that the aesthetically pleasing credit design was a complete mistake, one of many happy accidents Oates cops to over the course of the film, which was shot in only 20 days on a relatively low budget.
A still gallery captures some nice moments among the cast and crew on set, as well as photos from the film’s Tribeca premiere.
“Wasted” may not be given prime placement on the shelves at DVD retailers but it’s worth putting in the Netflix queue, and you’ll discover a small gem well worth watching.