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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Britcom > Superhero > Comedy > Drama > British > Musical > Satire > Animated > Coming > Gavin & Stacey – The Complete Collection (2007 – 2010/BBC DVD Set)/Griff The Invisible (2010/Indomina/Vivendi Blu-ray)/Hollywood Party (1934/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Submarine (2010/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)

Gavin & Stacey – The Complete Collection (2007 – 2010/BBC DVD Set)/Griff The Invisible (2010/Indomina/Vivendi Blu-ray)/Hollywood Party (1934/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Submarine (2010/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)


Picture: C/C+/C+/B-     Sound: C+/C+/C+/B-     Extras: C+/C/C+/C     Episodes/Films: C+/C/B-/C


PLEASE NOTE: Hollywood Party is only available from Warner Bros. in their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Now for some British comedy, including some that was apparent in an underrated Hollywood gem.



Though the BBC seems to have had higher expectations for the show to run longer, especially on some of the hype and good reviews, we get Gavin & Stacey – The Complete Collection only after three seasons, which means it ended sooner than they thought.  Here is my coverage of the Season One:




Sad to say the show remained pretty much in the same mode, but quit while it was ahead (give or take the ratings) and they even managed to make a Christmas Special.  If you really like the initial episodes, you might like this set, but otherwise is not a great show and not as funny as it always thought it was.  Extras are still not bad and include audio commentaries on episodes from the first two seasons, Outtakes for all three, Behind The Scenes on all three, James & Ruth on Friday Night with Johnathan Ross on the Season Two set and cast Favorite Memories on Season Three.



Leon Ford’s Griff The Invisible (2010) is a British comedy about the title character (Ryan Kwanten) being bullied at work by an older guy who is using and intimidating him.  Griff puts up with the bullying, though oddly never reports it as harassment (the film is more interested in its idea of comedy than realism) and then wants to be a serio-comic entry into the Superhero genre when he finds out he just might be able to render himself invisible.  Unfortunately, this is all over the place, corny, clichéd, formulaic and never seems to understand what it is doing.  Attempts to be a feel-good work also backfire and it doesn’t even know how to conclude.  A shame since it had potential.  Extras include Deleted Scenes that might have helped, Making Of featurette, Music Video, feature length audio commentary track and Exclusive QR Code for more extras.



Though it is a fun series of skits tied together by a larger narrative, Hollywood Party (1934) has eight directors (some uncredited and including Sam Wood, Alan Dawn and George Stevens no less) even more writers and even more stars.  The mostly black and white work has a main story with Jimmy Durante, but also has great appearances by Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, Mickey Mouse, Jack Pearl, Lupe Velez, many more big names then & later and even James Wong Howe as its Director of Photography.  MGM went all out to make this fun and it is very entertaining.  Made before the infamous Hollywood Production Code totally kicked in, it is more fun than you might expect, but the names (including having the original Stooges here) should give you an idea of how good this is.


The topper is an animated sequence.  It begins with a live-action/animation mix as Mickey Mouse shows up to have fun with Durante, then he starts to play piano and the image goes full color (three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor to be precise) as we get an amazing musical number called The Hot Choc’ Late Soldiers that is as incredible as it is dark and ironic, making it some of the darkest animation Disney ever turned out.  That alone is worth seeing this film, but it is a great time capsule of some of the greatest talent all of Hollywood had at the time and all before they peaked, so this one gem worth going out of your way for.


Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and a nice chunk of Pre-recordings and Outtake performances for the various songs in the film, including by other singers and even some of the creators easily making this one of the most loaded Warner Archive DVDs yet.



Finally we have actor Richard Ayoade’s Submarine (2010).  The actor best known for playing Moss on the extremely underrated hit British TV show The IT Crowd (reviewed elsewhere on this site) has directed many TV and music programs, but this is his first feature film.  Here we get another Brit loner, this time named Lloyd (Noah Taylor) who has to also tolerate bullying, dysfunctional parents, has plenty of personal issues, odd behavior and a potential girlfriend if his life does not get worse.  I thought this started off much better than Griff, but unfortunately Ayoade and his screenplay (based on the Joe Dunthorne book) is all over the place and starts running into trouble as soon as it chops up its narrative too much, making it unrealistic when it seems to be trying for surrealism.  The rest of the cast is not bad, but I was disappointed and I hope Ben Stiller did not somehow sabotage this.  Extras include a Making Of featurette and Deleted Scenes that are not bad.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 in Gavin remains as motion-blur prone as its first season, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo remains as basic.  The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Blu-rays are not as good as I had hoped with Griff a grainer presentation than expected despite being a 16mm shoot, while Submarine was a 35mm film shoot and should have looked better, but is the best of the four presentations on the list.  The 1.33 X 1 image on Party has some image limits due to both the age of the film and the fact that this is a DVD-R, but it is nicely shot as all glamorous MGM films were and having Howe as the lead cameraman is a big plus, but the Disney dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor sequence is so good, it challenges the Blu-ray here and has been nicely restored, outshining the rest of the monochrome on the DVD.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on both Blu-rays are dialogue and sometimes joke-based, but Griff tends to be a bit weaker than Submarine, even including the use of music in the surrounds.  Both have sound too much towards the center speakers, but they can both have some good moments of sonic clarity.  That leaves the Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on Party which sounds as good as it is going to for its age in this lossy format, so we’ll have to wait for Blu-ray and lossless sound for better performance.



To order Hollywood Party, go to this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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