The latest in a new generation of releases that essentially have a tiny window between theatres and DVD (the film was in theatres April 27th and hit DVD a matter of a few days afterwards. Exec produced by "Wet Hot American Summer" director David Wain (and "Summer" writer Ken Marino) and directed by "Adventures of Pete and Pete" director Katherine Dieckmann, "Diggers" is a small town dramedy that offers up a solid cast and doesn't wear out its welcome at 89 minutes.
The film, set in the '70's, stars Paul Rudd ("40-Year-Old Virgin") as Hunt, a clam digger off Long Island who's quickly finding that the business is being swallowed up by companies with more funding and more equipment than he could dream of. Things are looking similarly slow for fellow clammers Cons (Josh Hamilton), Jack (Ron Eldard) and Lozo (Ken Marino, doing probably the closest thing to the kind of humor found in "State" and "Wet Hot American Summer", playing a father seemingly irritated by just about everything around him and completely inappropriate around his kids.)
Hunt's father passes away early in the picture, leading him to begin to wake up to the reality that the life he knew is changing. Jack starts to become involved with Hunt's sister, Gina (Maura Tierney), who has begun to move on with her life. Meanwhile, a rich girl from Manhattan (Lauren Ambrose, of "Six Feet Under") has moved into the area and sets her sights on Hunt. He sees a possible relationship, but she doesn't have the same view of their situation. The four clammers hear about work possibly being available at the corporation that's taken over the clamming in the area, but they have a tough time thinking about working for the enemy that's taken their livelyhood.
"Diggers" does fall into the trap of letting the music do some of the talking, as director Dieckmann (a veteran of music videos for "R.E.M") could have left the music out of a few scenes and let the performances do the work, as there are some good performances here, especially Rudd. While previously known largely as a comedic actor, Rudd is quite moving here as a guy getting older and realizing that he's going to have to make a new start. A scene where Ambrose's character lets him know where their relationship stands is particularly moving. Marino's also a surprise in a performance that can be darkly funny and quietly moving.
"Diggers" isn't really a remarkable little slice-of-life in any way, but it's a satisfying small town drama with some fine performances and a nice sense of time and place.
VIDEO: Magnolia presents the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy that arrived offered average image quality, with sharpness and detail that varied between appearing reasonably good and a little below average. Still, most of the picture looked at least crisp, As for flaws, some mild artifacting was spotted, as was some moments of minor shimmer. Colors looked somewhat subdued throughout the show, but appeared problem-free.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was entirely dialogue-driven, as to be expected from this kind of film. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and no distortion or other concerns.
EXTRAS: Writer/director commentary, "Higher Definition: 'Diggers'" featurette, deleted scenes and "Baymen" - a documentary on clammers.
Final Thoughts: "Diggers" isn't really a remarkable little slice-of-life in any way, but it's a satisfying small town drama with some fine performances and a nice sense of time and place. A recommended rental.