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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Racism > Wedding > Stand Up Comedy > Documentary > Bringing Down The House (2003)/Father Of The Bride + Father Of The Bride, Part II (1991 & 1995/Disney Blu-ray w/DVDs)/95 Miles To Go (2007/VSC DVD)

Bringing Down The House (2003)/Father Of The Bride + Father Of The Bride, Part II (1991 & 1995/Disney Blu-ray w/DVDs)/95 Miles To Go (2007/VSC DVD)


Picture: B/B- & C, C+ & C+/C+     Sound: B/B- & C+/C     Extras: B-/C & C-/C     Main Programs: B-/C & C-/C



Here comes more comedy, but don’t expect to always laugh.



Adam Shankman is a hit and miss filmmaker and I have not liked most of his films, though his musical remake of Hairspray (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) should have been a much bigger hit.  He did have a big hit with Bringing Down The House (2003) which despite making a good bit of money never had a sequel despite the potential.  Steve Martin is a ‘lonely guy’ who has separated from his wife (Jean Smart) and when looking to date another woman via the then-new Internet, lands up with a woman (Queen Latifah, who co-produced and is very funny here) who needs help in a legal battle (she is accused of a crime she says she did not commit) and Martin happens to be a lawyer.


He is not happy with her lying that she was a young blonde and he also has two children (Kimberly J, Brown and Angus T. Jones, who joined the cast of Two & A Half Men later that year) he does not want to lose custody of.  She decides to stay at his place, which he reluctantly agrees to.  From there, with a nosy racist neighbor (Betty White stealing the show again) and institutionalized racism in his business world, the film (though not on the deep satirical level of an All In The Family) takes on racial issues of the time, especially unspoken rollback racism from the 1980s onward in a film that is now a time capsule of a pre-Obama America.


However, it is very funny often and not just a formula affair, with Eugene Levy turning out to be a apparently stuffy white guy who loves black women, deeply knows black culture and falls for Charlene (Latifah), while Martin picks up seamlessly n pressing the racial button in the tradition of The Jerk crossing racial lines that made him a cutting edge comic talent in the first place.  He is maybe the only comic (save Bill Murray) from his era of comics (save the SCTV gang, represented here by Levy, of course) that has been able to stay on the cutting edge.


I was pleased this held up so well and remained funny.  Missy Pyle and Joan Plowright also give great comic performances in a rare film on the subject of race, a comedy at that.  Only Warren Beatty’s Bulworth (1998) went further at the time.  No, Disney biggest mistake in the last ten years was not Mars Needs Moms, selling Miramax, John Carter, dropping Warlord Of Mars from John Carter or letting Pixar lose its momentum with Cars 2, it was not making this into a series.  And yes, this is far superior to the similar Houseguest, which just did not work.


Extras include a Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes, two Making Of Featurettes, a Music Video by Latifah and feature length audio commentary by Shankman and Writer Jason Filardi.



On the other hand, the remake of Father Of The Bride (1991) and not as successful sequel Father Of The Bride, Part II (1995) have also arrived as a double feature from Disney on Blu-ray with the older DVDs and they were never good, have the less funny, safer Martin around and have not aged well at all.  Made by the one-time married filmmaking team of Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers, their work together and apart has rarely been good and these are no exception.


Bombs like I Love Trouble, Irreconcilable Differences, The Parent Trap remake, The Holiday, An Affair Of The Necklace and It’s Complicated have been somehow offset by occasional hits like Baby Boom, Something’s Gotta Give and What Women Want.  The problem is that their safe is boring and that has led to the studios supporting them, even if the films did not work.  There is little original about them and the likes of this wedding comedy are not as funny as even the overrated Wedding Crashers or underrated Joel Schumacher film Cousins, itself a remake of Cousin Cousine.  The 1991 film is barely as good as the Elizabeth Taylor/Spencer Tracy original and the sequel to the remake is just a flat cash-in.


Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly Williams, BD Wong, Kieran Culkin and Eugene Levy show up both films, but it is just formulaic and routine.  Now you can see for yourself, so this set is for fans only.


Extras include Charles Shyer audio commentary track for the first film, Martin and Short on the second film, making of featurettes for each film and Martin and Short interviewing each other for the first film.



Finally we have the would-be funny road documentary 95 Miles To Go (2007) in which Everybody Loves Raymond (save those who really do not!) Ray Romano and one of his people from that show and a USC student to tape the stand-up trip he takes.  Unless you really find him funny, you will find this program like nails across a chalkboard and though student Roger Lay does his best here with what he has to work with and I doubt anyone could have made this one better.


Extras include a Photo Gallery, trailer, lame Deleted & Extended Scenes, two audio commentaries (!!!), two Q&A sessions on the release (!!!!!!), an additional video commentary (as if there was so much to say) and another stand-up piece.  You can OD on Ray with this one, but pretend it has a health warning because it deserves one.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on House looks really good for its age, in a fine, solid transfer that approximates well the 35mm print I saw so many years ago.  Color range, depth, detail and a clean source make this a pleasure to watch.  The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the two Father films are not as good, but better than their weak, old anamorphically enhanced DVD versions.  Still, the first Father has the best Blu-ray and worst DVD, while the sequel’s two format versions are about even, suggesting they have the same old video master.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Miles is weak and softy throughout, but still manages to look better than Father 1 on DVD.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on House is also top rate with a fine soundfield throughout, meaning the transfer is all first-generation of this Blu-ray release.  Father 1 has the same sound on Blu-ray, but not as good, and the sequel’s DTS-MA 5.1 is even weaker, matching the lame, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on both DVDs of both films.  Miles has lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo options, but the 5.1 mix is wishful thinking and slightly richer than the simple stereo recording this actually is.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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