Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/25/00
1999 (2000) - Universal
review by Frank Ortiz of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
97 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, dual-layered (layer switch at 39:23, at the start of
chapter 9), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary with director
Frank Oz, Spotlight On Location
featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, production notes, cast and
filmmaker bios, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with
animation and sound, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English
(DD & DTS 5.1), French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English
Imagine a desperate
movie producer (that's not hard, right?). He's so desperate in fact,
that he would do just about anything to complete his movie. Got it?
Then you probably now have a pretty good clue as to Steve Martin's
character Bobby Bowfinger. Bowfinger
is a good film, and another one of Steve Martin's original (and
always hilarious) screenplays (add this to Roxanne,
L.A. Story and Three
Amigos!). Throw in funny man Eddie Murphy and the
direction of Frank Oz, and you have a load of talent in the mix.
Martin's work usually finds its way to a certain kind of audience,
who appreciates it. I'm not sure what kind that is, but I do know
that I fit into it, because I found Bowfinger
to be a very funny satire.
The plot centers on Bowfinger's latest movie project. Bowfinger has
a distributor lined up, but the deal hinges on him getting action
superstar Kit Ramsey (played by Eddie Murphy) as his lead. The movie
is a poorly written sci-fi/aliens-taking-over-the-world thing (that
gets re-written with each passing day on the set. Hmm... That sounds
familiar). But when Ramsey doesn't want to play, Bowfinger and his
band of merry movie misfits decide to make the film anyway. But the
biggest hurdle they have, aside from a lack of money, film stock and
equipment, is that Kit Ramsey's still the star, and doesn't even
know it. Ever a resourceful and determined movie producer, Bowfinger
doesn't let anything get in the way of making his dream (of becoming
an "important person" in Hollywood) come true.
Eddie also pops up as a Kit Ramsey look-a-like (and gopher), who is
his stand in for the film. The two characters Eddie plays are both
funny and odd (Kit's a follower of a weird Hollywood cult much like
--THIS WORD PERSONALLY CENSORED BY L. RON HUBBARD--). Without adding
too much make up or prosthetics to either one of the characters,
Eddie pulls both off with flying colors. The most of the rest of the
cast is good too, although I think Steve Martin could play his
character a little better. And while I can't really say I liked
Christine Baranski, her character seemed to fit her well. If you
view some of the featurettes and hear her, then you might be able to
see what I'm alluding to and judge for yourself.
The writing is the film's hidden strength - Steve Martin pokes fun
at everyone in the business, and a few other groups of people as
well. And I just have to mention a funny minor plot, which is the
Mexican-American characters that Bowfinger "hires" as his
film crew. These guys become quasi-film experts after diving into
the whole movie making experience, in a subtle jab aimed in other
directions of the industry.
On this DVD, the video image is bright and bold. The colors are
full (and quite possibly too full on occasion, but still provide a
nice image). There are very few digital and NTSC artifacts visible.
The contrast is great, but I thought the blacks could have been
deeper. On the audio side, the sound is very nice indeed. You get
dual 5.1 audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS formats. Both offer a
nice clean mix. Dialogue has a great central presence, with some
slight movement (as appropriate) in the mix. There's not a whole lot
of rear channel action, but it's there enough to create nice
atmosphere in some scenes.
Now we dive into the extras. Frank Oz is very easy to listen to on
the alternate audio track, and makes for a descent commentary. My
one sticking point with it though, is that Oz basically says that
the film would have been very long if quite a few scenes weren't cut
out. So why aren't they among the deleted scene included here? The
stories and background Oz added lead me to draw a couple of
conclusions: 1) they all had fun making the movie, and 2) there are
a lot more deleted scenes that we never get to see. The 2 deleted
scenes included on the disc are not terribly funny, adding only some
minor and unnecessary details to the story. The featurette and
outtakes are better additions to the disc, but they're still nothing
to holler about. There are a few ROM features that can be accessed
after you set-up Bowfinger on
your PC, mainly additional text & stills on the cast, crew and
production. Finally, the disc's animated menu opening is pretty
funny - a nice touch.
After seeing this movie, I can't help but recall L.A.
Story and Roxanne,
a couple of my favorites from Steve Martin. This isn't his best
film, but it'll give you a couple of good laughs. If you're a fan of
his work, then this isn't a bad addition to the library.