The Best DVD Commentaries? You Decide…

From the filmgeeks at Videoport, the greatest (remaining) indie video store in the world (151 Middle St. Portland, Maine 04102  [207] 773-1999!):

“DVD” stands for “Double (your) Video Delight”!
No it doesn’t. But it might! See, one of the best things about the DVD technology to me is the plethora of extra features now included with most movies and TV shows. While some DVD’s still try to pass off “Language Selection” and “Optional Subtitles” as “bonus features”, most pile on behind the scenes documentaries, movie trailers, cast interviews, craft services recipes and, if you’re renting from the Criterion Collection, a small booklet containing the unabridged history of the film medium itself and, best of all, alternate commentary tracks wherein the director, writer, stars, key grip and best boy electric jabber on while you’re watching the movie, enlightening you on subjects as diverse as “she was really good in that scene” to “oops, there’s my butt”, and, in general, completely demystifying the moviemaking experience. Now, you might say, “I really think I’ve gleaned enough information about Are We There Yet? from watching the film proper”, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but for many DVD’s the commentary tracks provide, for a variety of reasons, an entertainment value at least equal to the feature itself. That’s double your movie renting dollar! Check these out:
>>Conan the Barbarian: Videoport’s Piehead recommends this movie constantly as much for Arnold’s enthusiastically lunkheaded running commentary as for the movie itself. Ask him to reenact his favorite line, “And here is where I keeel him!” in his best Arnold voice.
>>Bubba Ho-Tep: as if you need another reason to watch this great movie about an elderly

Don't make me use my stuff on ya'...

Don't make me use my stuff on ya'...

Elvis and an even more elderly black man claiming to be JFK fighting the mummy which is preying on their nursing home, check the flick out with the commentary track where Bruce Campbell narrates the action as “the King.”
>>Taladega Nights: easily as hilarious as the movie itself, the commentary track takes the form of a 90-minute virtuoso improv session with director Adam McKay and bit player (and Upright Citizen’s Brigade genius) Ian Roberts straight-facedly explaining the most outrageous details of the production, telling tales about Will Ferrell’s movie star demands, and, at one point, getting into a fistfight with visiting celebs Kyle Gass (of Tenacious D) and Andy Richter.
>>Anchorman: Same sort of deal, with Ferrell and McKay spending about a third of the movie musing about what sorts of profanities they can use on the commentary of the

Ribs...I had ribs at lunch, that's why I'm doing this...

Ribs...I had ribs at lunch, that's why I'm doing this...

“unrated” DVD, fielding irate phone calls from costars Paul Rudd and Christina Applegate, and chatting with a justifiably bewildered Lou Rawls, who is completely unconnected to the movie in any way. Both here and in Taladega Nights, the commentary amounts to a free clinic in improvisational riffing from comedy geniuses.
>>“Mr. Show”: each episode of this brilliant sketch comedy show has a commentary by Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, and most of the show’s writers and performers and each is as funny as the episode itself, with everyone doing characters, making fun of each other, and providing occasional insight into the stuff on the screen. Seriously- watch the show, and then watch it again with commentary; free hilarity!
>>Resident Evil:Apocalypse: JackieO swears this is unintentionally hilarious.
>>Cannibal:The Musical: Trey, Matt and the gang get really, really drunk through the course of the commentary and start making fun of a former girlfriend who split just before they got rich and famous.
>>“Futurama”: join creator Matt Groening, writer David X. Cohen and the writers and

Ahhh..don't tell me how to do this...it sickens me.

Ahhh..don't tell me how to do this...it sickens me.

voice performers (Billy West and John DiMaggio are always welcome) for another “double your entertainment dollar” dose of laughs. Please, for your own benefit, check out the Shatner story on “Amazon Women in the Mood”.
>>It’s Impossible To Learn To Plow By Reading Books: (on disc 2 of the Slacker Criterion DVD). Andy says this is an awful, self indulgent movie (think Brown Bunny indulgent without the BJ), but Richard Linklatter’s commentary tells pretty much his whole life story up until Slacker.
>>Road House: the new DVD release of this Patrick Swayze bouncer crapfest has a hilarious commentary from rabid fans Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier.
>>Dude, Where’s My Car? and Ready To Rumble: DavidT recommends these; just do what he says.
>>The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up: huge cast of very funny people join director Judd Apatow.

>>>Tropic Thunder:  In keeping with his character’s pronouncement in the film, Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t drop character until after the DVD commentary track, goofing around with costars Ben Stiller and Jack Black first in the voice of faux-African American Sergeant Osiris, then as Aussie actor Kirk Lazarus (who’s playing Osiris), and then, briefly, as himself.  As ballsy and virtuoso  (and hilarious) a performance as the one in the film itself.
>>Galaxy Quest, The Blair Thumb, and Wet Hot American Summer: three hilarious “gimmick” alternate tracks featuring a track all in the film’s alien language, an “insane commentary” of gibberish, and “extra farts”, respectively.

>>California Split: This one, with legendarily-contrary director Robert Altman, the film’s screenwriter, and co-stars George Segal and Elliot Gould is informative, entertaining, and unexpectedly moving. The film, with one-time-A-listers Gould and Segal at the top of their games as two compulsive gamblers on a hot streak is a great, low-key example of Altman’s improv-y, jazzy facility with actors at its height, and the commentary, with the two leads clearly moved at the re-watching and rueful that that time has long since passed.

>>The Ten:  Director David Wain and costars Ken Marino and Paul Rudd bring the funny and, for some reason, a cool standup base player named Harrison and Wain’s elderly parents who occasionally criticize their son’s film (for some reason, they’re not big fans of anal rape jokes).
>>Also receiving votes were Primer, and Lair of the White Worm. So check out these DVD’s and double your fun. (Do you have a favorite DVD commentary that we drunkenly overlooked? email it to us, along with your movie reviews or articles, at denmn@hotmail.com!) or just comment here like there’s no tomorrow!

For more bloggy, pop culture-y goodness, check out Dennis and Justin in Brannigan’s Law!

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Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 4:50 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Used Cars! Zemeckis, Gale, and Kurt Russell. Might be funnier than the film itself. Tons of behind the scenes trouble, cocaine, rain, stunts gone bad, cameras destroyed, irresponsible filmmaking — it’s awesome.

    • Definitely have to check that out (Russell’s usually money- see his commentary with John Carpenter for ‘The Thing’). I really like ‘Used Cars’, though…

  2. I know people run very hot and cold on the guy, but I love Kevin Smith’s commentaries – especially the ones he did with Affleck for Dogma and Chasing Amy. The two are obviously great pals, and gleefully rip into each other throughout the tracks.

  3. Seriously. As seen in his ‘Evening with Kevin Smith’ DVDs, the guy’s a raconteur of the most endearing kind. I love him, and wish for him to make a good movie again…


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