Don Champagne (Patrick Wilson) seems to have it all: a successful business, a perfect house, perfect kids and a perfect wife. Unfortunately, when his wife, Mona (Katherine Heigl), learns of Don's affair with a pretty new salesgirl (Jordana Brewster), this suburban slice of heaven spirals out of control. Don soon realizes that Mona will stop at nothing, including murder, to maintain their storybook life where perception is everything. Directed by Anthony Burns from a screenplay by Carlo Allen, Ted Elrick and Tom Lavagnino, Home Sweet Hell was produced by A.J. Buckley, Anthony Burns, Jeff Culotta and Sean McKittrick, with Andre James Champagne, Phillip B. Goldfine and Ted Hamm serving as executive producers.
The biggest problem with the dark comedy 'Home Sweet Hell' isn't that it's not afraid to have its characters do morally objectionable things, it's that it forgets to be funny along the way. Somewhere between script and screen, the participants got so wrapped up in the story they were trying to tell that they seem to have forgotten they were also supposed to make us laugh along the way.
Patrick Wilson stars here as Don Champagne, the owner of a large and semi-successful furniture store. He's married to Mona (Katherine Heigl), has two kids, and seems to be living the good life in suburbia. However, almost immediately it's obvious to the audience that Mona is a nut job. She's one of those types who keeps a scrapbook of all the goals she has in life, wants her kids to be perfectly behaved little robots, and even schedules the days which she and Don will have sex. In other words, five minutes into the movie and most of the viewers will already be asking why Don married Mona in the first place.
Mona's personality, naturally, means Don has a wandering eye when it comes to the ladies. That's more than evident when it comes time for the furniture store to hire a new salesperson, and Don picks the young and attractive Dusty (Jordana Brewster). Of course, the script allows Dusty to have a gender neutral name, so when Don talks about her with Mona, she thinks he's talking about a guy.
It isn't long before Don is having a tawdry affair with Dusty. Before the audience is ask to suspend their disbelief that a girl like her would throw herself at a guy like Don, we're let in on the fact that Dusty and her biker, drug-dealing boyfriend (and his pal) are getting her to extort Don out of money by telling him that she's pregnant. Dusty thinks that Don will be too afraid to tell Mona, but that's exactly what Don winds up doing, which leads to the 'dark' part of this would-be comedy.
Mona – whom we already know to be OCD about everything in her life – is so worried that knowledge of Don's affair will disrupt her perfect home and social status, that she insists that Don kill Dusty. Without giving too much more away for the one or two of you out there who may actually want to sit through this title, the more Don and Mona get involved in their criminal activity, the more Mona reveals herself to be an complete and utter psychopath.
Although 'Home Sweet Hell' covers ground we've seen before in movies, the creators here don't have much fun with the premise. I'm not sure if they thought the actions of the main characters in and of themselves would be enough to entertain the audience, but when I say I didn't laugh once during 'Home Sweet Hell', I literally mean I didn't laugh once. It also doesn't help that there's not one redeemable person in the movie to relate to, with the possible exception of Jim Belushi, who plays Don's best friend and employee and, quite honestly, is given nothing of consequence to do in the story.
I do like all of the actors here – even Heigl, whom I know has her share of haters out there. But it's not their performances that bring the movie down – it's the screenplay, which really needed to go through a few rewrites and try to pump up the comedic element before putting this one in front of the cameras. Let's just call this one a missed opportunity.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Home Sweet Hell' arrives on Blu-ray in one of Sony's standard keepcases (the type with the flap that must be lifted up to open the case), which houses the 50GB dual-layer disc with no inserts. The Blu-ray is front-loaded with trailers for The Wedding Ringer, Predestination, '50 to 1', 'To Write Love on Her Arms', and 'The Intruders'. The main menu consists of the still image of Heigl and Wilson from the box cover (with a still of Heigel's character's scrapbook behind them) and menu selections running across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray is Region A-locked.
'Home Sweet Hell' was shot digitally and gets a decent enough transfer to Blu-ray, with a colorful-looking palette, some nice depth, and good sharpness overall. My only complaint about the image is one of my own aesthetic tastes, as I found the picture to be a little oversaturated, both in terms of skin tones and the overall presentation. While it may be more a result of choices made by the director of photography and little to do with the transfer, I just found the image to be a little too 'warm' for my preference.
Other than that, though, there's little to complain about – as there are no issues with banding, aliasing, or the like, and black levels throughout are pretty decent. Sony Pictures tends to do a good job with the majority of their video transfers on Blu-ray, and 'Home Sweet Hell' is another solid effort that most viewers should be pleased with.
Although the featured track here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio one, there's actually not a whole lot going on in terms of directionality or immersiveness. A huge chunk of the dialogue (almost all of it, in fact) is front and center, and the rears are almost exclusively used to enhance the rather unimpressive – and, at times, borderline annoying – musical score. The rears are also used for a few instances of ambient sounds here and there, but for a big chunk of the film they remain completely silent.
Even though the audio mix here isn't quite impressive, it's also free from any obvious glitches, and its overall balance is fairly well done. Dialogue is clear and easily understood, with no dropouts, hissing or other technical glitches.
In addition to the English track, 5.1 DTS-HD tracks are also available in both Spanish and French. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Spanish, and French.
I don't have a problem with the idea behind 'Home Sweet Hell', it's just that when you make a comedy this dark, one shouldn't forget about being funny in the process. That's the biggest issue with this movie, which – despite a handful of talented actors – can't seem to manage one laugh from the rather poorly written script. We'll just call this one a missed opportunity. Skip it.