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The Last Shift - DVD Review

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The Last Shift

When asked how the training of his replacement is coming along, Stanley (Richard Jenkins, The Visitor) mumbles to his manager, “I just don’t think he’s a good fit here.” Stanley would know. After all, we’s worked the late night drive-thru shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish, a run-down fast food spot in Albion, Michigan, for the last 38 years.

"The Last Shift is content with its place as an ambling little story about something real and meaningful"


What Stanley doesn’t know, however, is that the joke is on him in The Last Shift, a breezy little film that takes on some fairly weighty topics with such a lighthearted touch that even the awkward moments are always pleasant and totally approachable.

Speaking of awkward moments, there are plenty in this clash-of-cultures exploration from first-time feature filmmaker Andrew Cohn who unspools his tale about content white baby boomer Stanley who is forced to work with young African-American genZ’er Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie, What Men Want). Before he retires and moves to Florida to take care of his aging mother, Stanley is tasked with training Jevon on the ins-and-outs of running the graveyard shift.

But Jevon, coming off a brief stint in County for defacing a public memorial, is struggling to find his way as new father, recent parolee, and wayward teen who’s only in it for the parole requirement. Naturally, the two clash when Stanley’s impeccable work performance and sandwich-making perfectionism are challenged by Jevon who pounces on Stanley’s blissful ignorance of that fact that despite his 38 years of service to the same restaurant, he could walk down the street and make more money with a competitor. Stanley grouses at Jevon who he sees as an angry kid with no drive. But soon enough their contentious relationship begins to thaw.The Last Shift

We think we know where this thing is going, but instead the characters take a turn when Stanley meets an unfortunate incident in a parking lot and the film takes off on a much darker trajectory. Normally meek and unassuming, Stanley begins to stand up for himself in the workplace and Jevon, who wrote a weekly investigative journalism column in his high school’s newsletter, calls Stanley out on his white privilege and blindness to systemic racism.

Cohn, who also wrote the script, has created a nice little character dynamic with loads of potential to make big statements about things currently happening in our society. But as we approach the film’s third act, he pulls back on the reigns, hoping to let mood, setting, and score take over for human drama and narrative tension. And for the most part, it works. Some will be disappointed that Cohn doesn’t reach farther and dig deeper, but as it is, The Last Shift tells a story that feels real and lived in – something that Hollywood often gets wrong.

If The Last Shift sounds like something out of Alexander Payne’s catalog of films marked by dark humor and biting depictions of contemporary American society, it’s because Cohn originally wrote it for Payne to direct but eventually took over chair duties. Cohn, a documentarian by trade, marks the film with a tone and elegance that is all his own.

As expected, Jenkins nails his portrayal of a man content with his understated place in the world, while simultaneously harboring resentment for anyone who challenges the decisions he has made along the way. But the real revelation here is McGhie who holds his own against the Oscar-nominated Jenkins. Ed ONiell (TV’s Married With Children) as Stanley’s’s beer-swilling schlub of a friend and Da'Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite is My Name) as the restaurant’s manager round out the stellar cast.

Don’t expect a big statement movie with a lot of grandiose things to say about a lot of heady topics. It’s not that kind of film. The Last Shift is content with its place as an ambling little story about something real and meaningful – about two people whose intersecting lives demand they search for a common purpose in a small American town where opportunities are few and empathy is lacking.

The Last Shift premiered at this years' Sundance Film Festival and opens in theaters on September 25, 2020.

3/5 stars

The Last Shift

DVD

DVD Details:

Home Video Distributor: Sony
Available on Blu-ray
- December 29, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.00:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Discs: DVD Disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Sadly, Sony Pictures gives us a stripped down, bare bones presentation with their DVD release of The Last Shift, a pleasant little film that premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. While the SD transfer is splendid with bright colors and solid blacks, the release comes with no extras and no commentary, just a single DVD disc in a black eco-case with the film's theatrical trailer. Boo!

Video

The 2.0:1 Anamorphic widescreen presentation is a beautiful one that features few flaws even though a large majority of the film takes place in the dark. Colors hold up well and are bright and perfectly saturated in the palette that is always beautifully rendered.

Audio

The English Dolby 5.1 audio track is not one that will knock your socks off as it consists of mostly front-centered dialogue, so the rear spectrum is rarely activated. It's a talk-y affair so no real activity from the sub either. Included are subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Trailer

DVD Rating:

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 0/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

2.5/5 stars

The Last Shift

MPAA Rating: R for language and some drug use.
Runtime:
90 mins
Director
: Andrew Cohn
Writer:
Andrew Cohn
Cast:
Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie, Ed O'Neill
Genre
: Comedy | Drama
Tagline:
An American Story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Teamwork? What are we, Crockett and Tubbs?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 25, 2020
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Stanley's last shift at his fast food job takes an unexpected turn.

The Last Shift

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