(2001) - Orion (MGM)
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
110 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual layered (layer switch at 56:16), Amaray keep
case packaging, audio commentary with director Frank Oz,
behind-the-scenes featurette, theatrical trailer, teaser trailer,
film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages:
English (DD 5.1), French and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English,
French, Spanish and Portuguese, Closed Captioned
be with another woman, that is French. To be caught, that is
Comedies no longer seem funny, because they substitute humor for
anything that'll make you cringe. Comedians and directors are
constantly trying to push the limits of good taste, to make the
audience uncomfortable. What these "artists" need to do is
go back and see an actually funny movie. It's easy to write crap,
it's harder to write something intelligent. Yet somehow in the late
eighties, Dale Launer and Stanley Shapiro were about to write one of
the most intelligent, yet hilariously funnies comedies that I've
ever seen. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
The plot is simple. Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) is a small-time con
man, using his standard tricks ("I need money for my grandma's
operation") to travel through Europe. Lawrence Jamieson
(Michael Caine) has conned his way into high society and is living
comfortably. The cross paths on a train and Lawrence wants to get
Freddy out of his territory, because although Freddy is very small
time, Lawrence notes, "A poacher who shoots at rabbits might
scare big game away."
However, there is no sign of Freddy leaving, so Lawrence takes it
upon himself to educate Freddy in the finer art of conning. But
still no dice, so Lawrence makes a desperate bet. They pick an
American soap heiress (Glenne Headly) out of a crowd and bet that
the first one to get $50,000 from her can stay; the other has to
leave and never come back. And thus, the story is set.
Everything about this film suggests that it should have been made in
the 50's. (And this is actually a remake of Bedtime
Story with David Niven and Marlon Brando.) From the
acting style, to its broad humor, to classy cinematography and art
direction, this film is well crafted. But it may work best, thanks
to the casting of Steve Martin and Michael Caine. We're allowed to
get away from the main plot for extended periods of time, because we
just want to see both of them one-up each other. It's because they
both have such great chemistry together, they work so well. Although
the film does drag a little long at times, it's none-the-less
enjoyable, and the ending is one of the better endings I've seen.
(Though it is a little obvious.)
The video transfer isn't anything to really write home about. The
picture has a little too much edge enhancement and some film grain
is present through the whole film. The colors also seem a little
soft, but that could be the cinematography, and not the disc's
fault. The 5.1 audio mix isn't that great either. Surrounds are only
used occasionally on music cues and some general crowd noise, but
this isn't the kind of movie that lends itself to surround sound.
However, bass output was very nice.
There's nothing too special in the extras here. First, there's a
scene-specific audio commentary with Frank Oz. The comments are a
little dry, but interesting if you're a fan of the film. Oz points
out how various shots were gotten, a script doctoring with Steve
Martin, and other little tidbits. He never really pauses through the
track, although he's almost silent through the first "Ruprecht"
scene, and the only thing other than silence is laughter. In fact,
Oz laughs along with a lot of the jokes, and you can really tell
that this is one of his favorites.
There's a behind-the-scenes featurette, produced back in 1988, which
is very brief and really just goes over some of Frank Oz's comments.
Also included are the theatrical trailer and the teaser trailer.
Both are presented in full-frame, and look horrible. But, the teaser
one of the better teasers I've seen that perfectly captures the
spirit of the film.
If you haven't seen Dirty Rotten
Scoundrels, why not? This is one of the sharpest, not to
say, funniest comedies of the last fifteen years.