Written by: Ron Cotton on December 11th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: April 4, 2000 (Santa Barbara Film Festival)
Director: Sollace Mitchell
Cast: Jon Bon Jovi, Bai Ling, William Forsythe, Thomas Lennon, Peter Kwong
DVD Released: 2005
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full-Frame
Sound: Stereo Sound
DVD Release: DigiView Productions
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $1.00
Jamey Meadows (Jon Bon Jovi) is an ex-con trekking the difficult straight and narrow path, living on an honest and meager existence. So meager, in fact, that Jamey’s forced to live on the big city streets. As fate would have it, Jamey meets up with his brother Gil (William Forsythe) by washing the windows of his fully-loaded car. Gil wants to help him get off the streets but Jamey shuns his criminal ways. Jamey hasn’t forgotten that Gil was the cause of his jail sentence.
While housed at a homeless shelter, Jamey is visited by a census taker (Thomas Lennon) convincing him to take up the same occupation. Going door-to-door, visiting the general populous, he’s enraptured by Chun Hua (Bai Ling) and finds anyway to enter her life. Never mind her mother-in-law, her aged husband, her child or her boyfriend who lives abroad. Under the guise as a writer, Jamey must come to terms with his developing relationship with Chun Hua and decide what’s for the best.
Performances of lead Jon Bon Jovi and William Forsythe are satisfactory, lacking something that could have offered a bit more. Bai Ling’s performance shined with more depth and character that the others lacked. Row Your Boat was both written and directed by Sollace Mitchell, known for his other marginal works. Winning Stony Brook Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award didn’t give Row Your Boat enough momentum for a theatrical release and instead found its home straight to video. This film is neither extraordinary or ordinary, it’s simply a drama with all the basic trimmings.
This budget title is quite crisp and colorful, thanks in part to the simple yet colorful set designs. This defines the depth of this film is quite characteristic to its 32mm source. Some hairs and print defects are noticeable, especially in the beginning but not jarring to detract viewing. It’s presented in it’s correct aspect ratio.
Digiview Productions DVD release differs and is inferior from York Entertainment’s DVD release in many respects. York Entertainment out-of-print Region 1 NSTC DVD includes the original trailer, Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Subtitles, and Filmographies for the three credited actors. Digiview’s Region 0 DVD contains none of the above extras with only an English Stereo Track. This is a relief given that Digiview’s DVD is but a single layer allowing for more video data on the disc. Although I lack the proof, I wouldn’t be shocked if Digiview sourced their materials from a televised release of this film. The fact that some swear words are unnaturally muted in the film is a dead giveaway to my assumption. Digiview included snippets of selected films from their video catalog.
Digiview’s DVD release is more than sufficient for Row Your Boat, this beautifully filmed drama with a simple formula. It’s also currently the only DVD in print. Search elsewhere if your tastes lie beyond this.