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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 2/25/00

1999 (2000) - Universal

review by Frank Ortiz of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Bowfinger Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/B-

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.

Frank Ortiz
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