Same Kind of Different As Me Blu-ray Review

An Inspirational Tale Based On A True Story

A violent homeless man forms an unlikely connection with a wealthy art dealer, transforming both of their lives in this remarkable journey of faith and redemption. Based on The New York Times best-selling book, Same Kind of Different As Me has a star-studded cast with Greg Kinnear, Renée Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight. Inspired by the powerful true story of Ron Hall and his wife Debbie, director Michael Carney’s rewarding spiritual drama doesn’t leave a dry eye in the house when all is said and done.

International art dealer Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) befriends a dangerous homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife (Renée Zellweger), a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on a spiritual journey together that will change their lives forever. Jon Voight plays Hall’s father, a bigoted man that doesn’t understand his son becoming so close with a homeless black man. The movie adapts the inspirational Christian book by co-authors Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent.

Same Kind of Different As Me is an affecting drama that crosses racial and class barriers along the way to its destination. Ron Hall is a success in his professional life but his personal life is a different matter. His wife Debbie discovers Ron has been cheating on her and it threatens their marriage. Relying on her faith, Debbie and Ron have a watershed moment in their marriage when Debbie drags Ron along to the Fort Worth Union Gospel Mission. Ron soon becomes a regular at the soup kitchen with Debbie, helping the homeless and destitute. Ron’s contact with the homeless will transform his outlook on life.

It’s at the soup kitchen that Ron and Debbie will meet a violent homeless man known only as ‘Suicide’ to the other homeless around the shelter. Brandishing a baseball bat wherever he goes, the elderly black man will soon undergo a remarkable transformation as he becomes friendlier with Ron and Debbie. Learning his name is Denver, Debbie had dreamed of meeting him beforehand and shared it with her husband. They will all take a journey together that heals Debbie’s marriage and save Denver from the streets. That sounds corny, but it’s a touching story that will move even those with hearts of stone.

Djimon Hounsou gives a soulful, spirited performance as the homeless Denver

This is a powerful, uplifting drama that will strike a chord with almost anyone that has had troubles in their marriage and seen it through with the power of faith. Crafted with care, the superb cast all give strong performances. Djimon Hounsou gives a soulful, spirited performance as the homeless Denver. It’s easily good enough for an Oscar nomination. Renée Zellweger’s loving portrayal of the sweet and nurturing Debbie is some of her finest work in years.

When is a faith-based movie not a faith-based movie? This movie is going after much the same market tapped by Heaven Is For Real and other similar movies marketed to Christian believers in recent years. One complaint that can be lodged against this movie adaptation is its nearly complete sanitization of the role Debbie’s Christian faith played in saving their marriage. It’s still there in the background but the script fastidiously avoids overtly religious dialogue. Thus turning what was a deeply personal religious journey for Ron Hall and Denver into a more general spiritual journey.

One of the pivotal aspects of the book is the role that Debbie and Ron’s faith played in saving their marriage and helping the homeless. We get some of that obliquely in the movie but it’s downplayed to a significant degree, overlaid here with a commercially acceptable social justice responsibility. You actually see more of Denver’s early experiences with his faith than either Ron or Debbie. Some care has been taken to ensure there isn’t a direct Christian message, which is offensive on some level if you have read Ron Hall and Denver’s real-life stories.

Same Kind of Different As Me has a powerful story to tell and director Michael Carney adapts it to the big screen in smooth fashion. Despite some tears, this is a movie that will leave everyone in the audience feeling warm and satisfied. While Hollywood has mildly sanitized the book’s religious themes for a wider audience, the rich storytelling and appealing characters are undeniable.

Video

Filmed with the Red Epic Dragon digital camera system and finished in pristine quality with a 2K Digital Intermediate, this is reference video. Same Kind of Different As Me’s razor-sharp cinematography by Don Burgess exudes depth and dimension.

The warm, inviting contrast and nigh perfect clarity make this Blu-ray the stuff of a videophile’s dreams. Rich colors and perfect flesh-tones help push this drama into demo material on occasion. There is basically no room to complain about the video quality.

Paramount’s transfer is a technically astute, unfiltered showpiece. The 119-minute main feature is encoded in flawless AVC on a BD-50. From its dialed-in black levels to its superb level of high-frequency content, Same Kind of Different As Me is a perfectly-shot drama on a Hollywood budget. If only more movies could maintain this consistent video excellence from start to finish.

Audio

Same Kind of Different As Me comes with a fine, if subdued, 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. The soundstage is largely confined to the front speakers. This is a lightly involving surround mix with few real opportunities to provide an immersive experience. The dialogue-driven drama uses a mild amount of rear ambiance. The sound design is effective and realistic, punctuating the subtle but excellent instrumental score from John Paesano.

Several different dubs in foreign language are included: French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and German 5.1 Dolby Digital, all at 640 kbps. An English Audio Description soundtrack is also available.

Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish and German. They play in a white font, remaining inside the 2.39:1 widescreen presentation at all times.

Extras

Paramount bestows Same Kind of Different As Me with a first-class set of special features. There’s a heartfelt commentary from the director with Ron Hall himself, the man whose life is the movie’s inspiration. There have been funny and insightful commentaries before, but this one has to be the most endearing commentary I’ve ever heard. Hall comes across as a genuinely nice man and pleased with how the movie turned out as he sees his personal story translated to the big screen.

Paramount includes a slipcover for first pressings. While the studio has not yet joined Movies Anywhere, a digital code good for iTunes and UltraViolet redeem in HDX quality.

Audio Commentary by director Michael Carney, co-writer Ron Hall and co-writer Alexander Foard – If you have even the slightest affection for this movie, this commentary shouldn’t be missed. Ron Hall was kept around during the movie’s production and it’s apparent he grew very close with everyone involved with the movie.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind—The Making of Same Kind of Different As Me (26:54 in HD) – A superb making-of featurette that interviews all the lead cast members and main crew members. The documentary includes behind-the-scenes footage from the set. It’s fairly thorough in discussing the project’s origins with director Michael Carney and then moves into more specific themes and characters.

Filming in Mississippi (10:35 in HD) – Cinematographer Don Burgess and others discuss their experience filming the movie in Mississippi. Apparently the movie helped renovate a local mission that continues to serve the community, detailing its history.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (28:36 in HD) – How does 24 separate scenes sound with optional commentary provided by director Michael Carney, Ron Hall and Foard? There is a lot of different material to go through, some cut obviously for time. The movie runs nearly two hours and many of these scenes would have felt like unnecessary padding.

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

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