Underseen gem ‘THE CLIMB’ ascends on disc, should be receiving more awards attention

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

Arriving today on Blu-ray and DVD through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the beautiful dramedy THE CLIMB.

When filmmakers Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin showcased their original 2017 short film, “The Climb,” at the Sundance Film Festival (watch it in the disc’s special features), the two friends received laughs aplenty with their clever premise.

Their seven-minute short put Covino and Marvin in the lead roles and had just enough space for the comedy wheels to turn down a memorable route. It centers on two buds, enjoying a bike ride that slowly pedals toward being a dumping of long-kept secrets. These are the kinds of secrets that could challenge your friendships. “The Climb” was a breath of fresh air that had the promise of becoming a feature-length film.

A couple of years later, Covino and Marvin expanded upon their story, which rolls into more unexpected territory and captures the truth of toxic friendships. You know those friends — the ones who are the Yoko to The Beatles and aren’t afraid to drop their self-sabotaging ways on your doorstep. However, you can’t help yourself because you’ve shared some of life’s most significant milestones with them.

So, why stop now? Who knows? Their mysterious and diabolical process of doing things may cause you to look inward and discover details about yourself that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

What’s fascinating about the feature-film version of THE CLIMB is no matter how chaotic things get, and they do get mad-crazy, these two friends need each other. They will hurt each other, one more than the other, but ultimately will align to find better ground. How Covino and Marvin portray their characters and go about presenting their journey is nothing shy of an ode to the art of filmmaking. It’s exceptionally well-told and acted, and it includes an onslaught of technical achievements that belong in college film discussions.

Grade: A-

Our interview with filmmakers and actors Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin:

Special Features:

  • A filmmaker’s commentary with Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin – Lots of funny and enjoyable stories, such as picking title cards, getting the timing right, who’s who, locations, and happy accidents.
  • Original short film
  • Alternate and extended scenes
    • Alternate opening – It begins with our two primary characters eating with family and friends outside. The camera pans from side to side (in a high frame rate, slow motion) as supporting characters smile, eat, and sip wine. It highlights a moment of celebration for Kyle, who is soon to be married, and a moment of sadness for Mike, who has feelings for Kyle’s fiancée. It’s meant to provide emotional insight before the film opens with Kyle and Mike riding bikes. How everything is revealed in the final cut makes it more humorous and impactful.
    • Extended hospital scene – As teased in my interview with the filmmakers, this scene adds more comedy and translation errors. Mike is trying to find out more information about his injuries while Kyle finds out more about his fiancée’s affair with Mike. Emotions and tensions are high.
    • Extended Kyle strip scene – This is more of an alternate take, made to look like a goofy music video. The fully played out sequence is funnier in the film.
    • Extended coffee shop scene – This is easily the best and funniest of the omitted bunch. Kyle discovers that Mike works at a coffee/bike shop. Kyle loses his cool for a minute, tossing his cappuccino against a wall outside, but quickly warms back up to Mike and discusses the neat concept of the store.
  • On set – a series of takes for various moments in the film, including the start of the opening scene, Mike getting tackled in the graveyard, and Kyle skiing shots (while Mike films it on a ski lift). There’s also a complete take of a realtor trying to put up a for-sale sign in the yard and the hilarity that ensues.
  • A theatrical trailer for the film and other Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 movies (such as Nine Days and The Last Shift)

THE CLIMB is now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.