The Dawg

Whether it was credited writer Mark Rich or the line was improvised on set, Finding Forrester’s throwaway gag became the definition of internet culture. Sitting down in his apartment, William Forrester (Sean Connery) utters, “You’re the man now dawg!” and the online world forever changed.

It’s inseparable from the movie, surely not the intent of its creators, but becoming an embodiment a self-mocking, routine “white savior” saga. Director Gus Van Sant repeated Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester borderline a remake, now set within the Bronx and dotted by a racial component.

As a studio film, Finding Forrester follows the formula

As a studio film, Finding Forrester follows the formula, beginning at a point of dissent between two generation-divergent people who then slowly begin to find one another as the story progresses. Every narrative beat is obvious, the characters archetypal, and the thematic commentary disconnected from most realities.

Finding Forrester wouldn’t happen today, not in this form anyway. Gus Van Sant wouldn’t direct, because this story needs an authentic perspective. Rob Brown’s performance as Jamal deserves praise, even as his character becomes locked into a duel between his prodigious writing talents and more “acceptable” inner city basketball skills. The challenges he faces come from snooty professors in a private school, and his mother, so prominent in the first act, evaporates into the background. It’s as if she takes no notice of her son as he grows closer to a private author. This in turn buries anything other than a surface level racism.

Jamal walks the street at night as a cop car passes. The imagery slows, the tension obvious, but nothing comes of it. Accused of plagiarism, the school suggests Jamal should concentrate on sports, casual racism that bothers the young writing scholar, if ultimately turning into a stock plot device, included as if such a movie demands it.

Over twenty years separate Finding Forrester from the now. Approaches to race and cultural divisions advanced past this movie. Fun as the snippy, angry Connery is, he’s locked in a thankless role as an elderly tutor to the poor black kid who grows up in a system denying him equality. Rather than inspirational, the suggestion is the only way to success is through chance and an educated white man. The Blind Side was worse only for its smug wealth disparity. Finding Forrester at least equalizes the pair to the same apartment complex.

Video

Even by Mill Creek’s usual low bitrate standards, this is bad. Finding Forrester lacks any natural film qualities, the whole screen swamped by compressed artifacts. Ludicrous levels of banding make up backgrounds. Any lighter shadows reveal thick blocking in chunks.

Flatter color gives the city a slight overcast, saturation purposefully dull for tone. Little stands out, the palette dry, mundane, but appropriate.

Compression means detail flatlines. There’s little to no texture anywhere. Resolution barely rises over DVD levels and side-by-side, there’s a near equal challenge as to which is which. Raised shadows kill the available dimensionality and contrast. There’s little if any true black in the imagery.

Audio

Although there’s opportunity for the DTS-HD track to produce ambiance in and around the city, not much happens in the surrounds. Even in a crowded stadium, rears offer limited value. Stereos, a little, but even that’s bland. However, the front soundstage does marvelous work in delivering the jazzy score, sharply separating instruments. Bass picks up a bit too, enough to add minor thrust to the track.

Dialog balances against the modest design. The center channel controls the majority.

Extras

A deleted scene, HBO EPK, and a featurette on Rob Brown fill up the menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Finding Forrester
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3

Movie

A movie that launched the meme phenomenon, Finding Forrester is otherwise a fine, indistinct drama with a specific racial direction.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 42 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: