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Blu-ray Reviews
Blu-ray Disc reviews by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

Mean Girls

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Mean Girls
2004 (2009) - Paramount
Released on Blu-ray Disc on April 14th, 2009
Also available on DVD

Dolby TrueHD

Film Rating: C+
Video (1-20): 15
Audio (1-20): 15
Extras: C+


In every generation, a clique teen comedy is born, destined to teach the latest high schoolers that being in with the "in-crowd" is not always the best path in life. Mean Girls is just such a comedy from writer Tina Fey, who had (at the time) recently left Saturday Night Live. (In addition to 30 Rock, she recently made her mark in a return SNL stint playing Sarah Palin during the 2008 election season.)


Turning the generic on its head, Mean Girls puts its protagonist in with what seems to be the kids on the outs, but takes a big picture twist by asking who the meanest kids in school REALLY are in practice, not just in reputation.

How many recent comedies have you seen on Blu-ray? Well... if the answer is more than two, then you probably know exactly what to expect from Mean Girls in terms of A/V quality. The image delivers decent detail, warm colors (with a slight red push) and some good blacks. Likewise, the lossless audio track makes the dialog completely clear and greatly expands the "spatiality" over the Dolby Digital core track. If you love this movie, there's no question you'll want to make the upgrade, but for others mileage will vary.

As far as I can tell, all of the extras have been ported over from the previous DVD release, starting with the commentary track with writer Fey, director Mark Waters and producer Lorne Michaels. In terms of featurettes, Only the Strong Survive is probably the most useful for those outside America, because it explains in great detail the sociological hierarchy of the American high school. Also here is a look at the backbiting Politics of Girl World, some deleted scenes, a montage of outtakes and the trailer in HD.

Mean Girls has definitely become a cult classic, and will no doubt be discovered by new audiences thanks to Tina Fey's recent fame. While its target audience is pretty much locked to those who graduated from high school in the last decade, Mean Girls contains universal things that any high school survivor should recognize. This Blu-ray is solid, if unremarkable. If you're sitting on the fence, go for it... but don't go out of your way.


Wayne's World

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Wayne's World
1992 (2009) - Paramount
Released on Blu-ray Disc on May 12th, 2009
Also available on DVD

Dolby TrueHD

Film Rating: B+
Video (1-20): 15
Audio (1-20): 17
Extras: C-


For a lot of people, the original Saturday Night Live cast is the one that will never be topped, but my generation came in with the class of the late 80s, which featured Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Adam Sandler... and of course, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. In this second golden age of the show, a huge number of brand new classic characters were introduced. So it was probably inevitable that a movie version of one of the era's most popular sketches - Wayne's World - would be made eventually.


Two slacker/metalheads are hosting a public-access cable show in their parent's basement the first time we actually see Wayne's World. When an offer to take their show to a major network comes in, Wayne Campbell and his constant companion Garth find that fame and fortune aren't what they're cracked up to be. Will the girl of Wayne's dreams learn the same lesson before it's too late?

Let's get this out of the way: Wayne's World was made on a shoestring budget and looks it. The print is a bit beaten up, particularly in the first reel, and exhibits enough dust and debris that you'll certainly notice them. The good news on Blu-ray is that there's an excellent increase in the level of detail, particularly when it comes to the background details often lost on DVD. The image looks natural and film like, and there's no doubt that this is probably the top end of how good the movie will ever look. On the audio side, dialogue fidelity is solid, but the musical sequences are what really get the biggest boost. Honestly, the stereo-heavy 5.1 mix sounds better than my CDs do. Before anyone asks, the audio track is the same one that has always been on home video... so once more, there's no Stairway to Heaven riff due to licensing issues. (Denied!) One last note: The cover says this is a 5.1 disc, but it seems like it's actually 5.0 after having several colleagues test it on their systems. If you're bitstreaming, you have nothing to worry about, but those with small main speakers might experience less than optimal bass if you're running analog audio connections.

Recycled from the 2001 DVD is the commentary track from director Penelope Spheeris. A middle of the road commentary, it's not bad, but not great. Spheeris mostly talks about making the transition from sketch to film. Extreme Close-Up skirts the EPK label by just this much, mostly concentrating on Mike Myers's childhood influences that were the bedrock on which Wayne Campbell was built. It's a shame there couldn't be more material - maybe at the very least licensing a few of the better sketches from the SNL library to freshen up an 8-year-old special edition. In any case, it is what it is.

Even after 17 years, Wayne's World is still funny even the 57th time around. How much of that is nostalgia and how much is the genuine comedy I'm probably not able to objectively judge. What I can say for the fans is that this Blu-ray is a solid, but not spectacular, upgrade.


Wayne's World 2

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Wayne's World 2
1977 (2009) - Paramount
Released on Blu-ray Disc on May 12th, 2009
Also available on DVD

Dolby TrueHD

Film Rating: B
Video (1-20): 15
Audio (1-20): 17
Extras: C-


You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hurl (again). A $100 million box office take doth a sequel make, so a year later Wayne and Garth were back... a little older, a little wiser (OK, maybe not), now set-up in their own awesome warehouse loft. They're still doing Wayne's World, and Wayne's girlfriend Cassandra's time is being wooed by her bigtime record producer.


With her life moving forward, Wayne can't figure out what his own purpose is. Enter the ghost of Jim Morrison, a weird naked Indian, and this generation's answer to the 60s, "Waynestock". Microwave it all on high for 6 minutes and the rest is another tasty dish of Wayne's World.

This Blu-ray improves slightly on its predecessor in terms of overall quality. That blessing can also be a curse, because the lighter overall scenery - particularly the desert - exposes the dirt and other artifacts that much more. Otherwise, this image quality is pretty much exactly the same as its predecessor. The same can be said for the audio, except that Wayne's World 2 appears to include an LFE discrete channel for full 5.1. Bottom line: This is a noticeable improvement over DVD, especially in the audio department, but the image could probably have used some additional dirt cleaning.

Another thing Wayne's World 2 on Blu-ray could have used is some new extras. The same boring featurette from the DVD is here, as well as the solo commentary with the director. Stephen Surjik tries to keep things interesting, but it's a sequel to a film he didn't direct. So without a nice lively group around him, it's hard to keep any commentary going.

Double the budget (but less than half the domestic box office) plus creative disagreements between Mike Myers and Dana Carvey meant that Wayne and Garth were finally put on the shelf after their second outing. There they remained until last year's MTV Movie Awards, when the very rusty pair finally reunited for a short SNL-style skit. I really hope that when the original's 20th anniversary rolls around, Paramount will see fit to revisit these movies on disc with new cast commentary, deleted scenes and (please!) some of the original SNL skits. These movies are probably the most enduring artifact of a great era of television comedy, and it'd be a shame not to use them to help build a time capsule for future generations to enjoy.

Jeff Kleist
jeffkleist@thedigitalbits.com


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