It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...

See You Next Wednesday

It's been a John Landis weekend.

The Blues Brothers DVD is a fine work. 18 extra minutes of footage, mostly lengthening musical numbers, so we get Cab Calloway's full "Minnie the Moocher", among other things. (What's odd is the "Jailhouse Rock" number at the end gets more shots of a full-fledged prison riot breaking out, and we fade to black and bring up credits just as a bunch of armed policemen rush onto the scene. RUN JAKE RUN!)

Also notable is the documentary included with the DVD that just gives out some wonderfully priceless bits of information about the film, as "behind-the-scenes" documentaries ought to do. Notes like the production crew having to make test drops of the Ford Pinto in order to convince the FAA that the car would hit its intended target, and Blue Lou Martini complaining to John Landis that during Aretha Franklin's "Think" number, Lou gets cropped out of the frame once he jumps up on the counter to play the sax, and is seen from the chest down. (Landis and cinematographer Stephen Katz framed the shots this way on purpose; Landis seemed to think it was a most marvelous joke at the time.) The story goes that when Martini confronts Landis about the fact that you don't see his head in the shot, Katz piped up with "Well, Lou, you signed on this film for a lot of money and little head, and that's what you're getting!"

Oh yeah, and the film is still marvelous. I still cheer every time the cop car takes out the Pier 1 in the mall.

The "Animal House: Double Secret Probation" DVD is a disappointment not only by comparison, but in general as well. If you don't have the film on DVD and you want it, well, okay go get it, but if you've already got the first release or are the type who gets DVDs just for extras, don't bother.

The "Where Are They Now?" mockumentary is amusing at best, under the conceit that the original film was a "documentary" of one semester at Faber College. Problem is, the Buckaroo Banzai DVD did this first.

It's nice to see the actors onscreen again, especially Peter Riegert and James Widdoes, and Stephen Furst's bizarre weightloss monologue is funny but altogether it just felt disappointing and fake -- especially since the film takes place in 1962 and while the actors have all aged, they don't look that aged. And some of the jokes are just fall flat. Ok, Otter's either a gynecologist, or he just performs examinations on bikini models. Har, har. Some of the characters also seem to only be able to talk about events that happened in the film, which doesn't help into providing insight into any kind of further development. And Tom Hulce and Donald Sutherland are nowhere to be seen. I will also hasten to mention that the Blues Brothers DVD did not have this kind of lame "Where are they now?" mockumentary, since they did it already and called it Blues Brothers 2000.

There's also some "Animated Tidbit" extra in place of any kind of commentary, and while I haven't tried it, I'm sure it's like a Pop-Up Video kind of fact-adding. I like it better when they use the subtitle track for this kind of thing. I also bet there's goofy sound effects and shit over the film's original soundtrack too. Good game, guys.

Fortunately, there's a good actual behind-the-scenes documentary, and there's a lot of great conversations from the cast and crew. Also some great bits -- Stephen Furst was discovered and cast after he delivered pizzas in Hollywood with his headshot and resume pasted on the inside of each pizza box. And the Delta castmembers recount crashing an actual fraternity party while on location and end up inciting a humongous brawl, getting pounded on by "like 300 fraternity brothers." I enjoyed watching them tell the story Rashomon-style.

Didn't care too much for the really stupid "Shout" video by some young rock trio you've never heard of, but I guess they had to kill time somehow. (I bet these bandmembers weren't even born when the movie came out.) Um, ok. I bet they're on some label owned by Vivendi/Universal. SYNERGY!

But the worst part? There's at least five minutes of un-skippable commercials when you put the DVD in. Every single time. Come the fuck on, guys. You shouldn't do this reprehensible commercial-forcing on a DVD, much less one you're touting as a "Special Collector's Edition". Nobody likes unskippable commercials. Nobody.

All in all, though, I still enjoy the original film and that's what counts. I've come out of this with a bit more focused respect for John Landis. I mean, the man directed, in succession: The Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London. That's quite a haul in four years, and I enjoy all of 'em. He's got some misses afterwards, but I still think he's one of the best comedic directors still alive.

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