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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Slacker > Romance > Mental Health > Business > Teens > Summer Camp > Canada > A Bag Of Hammers (2010/MPI Blu-ray)/As Good As It Gets (1997/Sony/TriStar/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Demoted (2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Meatballs (1979/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

A Bag Of Hammers (2010/MPI Blu-ray)/As Good As It Gets (1997/Sony/TriStar/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Demoted (2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Meatballs (1979/Lionsgate Blu-ray)


Picture: B-/B/B-/B-†††† Sound: B-/B/B-/B-†††† Extras: C/B/C-/C†††† Films: C/B/C-/C



PLEASE NOTE:The As Good As It Gets Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and is available exclusively at the Screen Archives website which can be reached at the link at the end of this review.




Here are some more comedy releases, including two older hits and two newer releases that should have worked better than they did.



Brian Cranoís A Bag Of Hammers (2010) has Jason Ritter (back trying comedy) and Jake Sandvig as friends trying to make money and keep their lives together, including some schemes and something about valet parking, but the script co-written by the director is more interested in one-liners and slice-of-life moments that donít work so this falls on its actors.Too bad this is all over the place to add up to anything good, so a lack of concentration by the makers sabotages another project.


We also have Rebecca Hall as Sandvigís sister, wanting to help a young boy (Chandler Canterbury) without parental support and a mother (Carrie Preston in a somewhat thankless role) too distracted by other things.It starts well, but in about 20 minutes starts to loose track of itself then becomes like a bad TV sitcom and in the end is totally goofy and unrealistic.Too bad.


A trailer and Behind The Scenes featurette are the only extras.




After some bad recent work by James L. Brooks, seeing As Good As It Gets (1997) again reminds us of how good he is when he is in proper form.I had not seen the film in a while and more than a few eyebrows in the industry were raised when Sony allowed Twilight Time to issue this big relatively recent hit as a Limited Edition Blu-ray.Jack Nicholson is a writer of means with obsessive-compulsive disorder and very bad manners who starts to become interested in waitress/mother Helen Hunt (both so good here) in what becomes an awkward romantic comedy with an edge.


Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr. (in one of his rare actual acting roles), Skeet Ulrich (remember him?) and Shirley Knight are among the fine supporting cast with a few surprise turns we will not ruin, but the film holds up very well and is easily the best comedy in this bunch.It also makes me miss Nicholson, one of our best actors who is not getting the roles he should be, in part because young new directors are amazingly ignorant of talent or how to make anything worth seeing.It has been 14 years since this was issued and is possibly a minor classic of comedy.Now you can see for yourself.


Extras include an Isolated Music Score of Hans Zimmerís music (this excludes any hit songs), the Original Theatrical Trailer and another booklet with illustrations and Julie Kirgo essay.



J.B. Rogersís Demoted (2011) could have been a funny comedy about disposability in the corporate workplace, but Office Space and Dilbert beat them too it.Sean Astin and Michael Vartan are friends who work for an automotive tire manufacturer facing financial troubles and needing more big sales when the boss they like dies, so the company starts cutting their workforce and keeping the wrong people, while others suffer the fate of the title.


The guys land up with female secretaries and being party guys who still have frat boy attitudes about women (which is not always convincing here anyhow), this dud from some of the makers of American Pie (yes, blame them for all those bad sequels, including the latest one) prove lightning is never going to strike twice for them, especially when they are doing a played-out comedy style that is long dead.I will give Celia Weston credit for giving the best performance and stealing all her scenes.There are no extras.


Finally we go back to 1979 for the oldest of the films, Ivan Reitmanís leave-your-brain-at-the-door Canadian comedy Meatballs (1979) with Bill Murray, who almost did not make the film and after 33 years is one of the only reasons it was a hit.Never a big fan of this film, I had not seen it in eons and was surprised how dated, flat and dull this was; how unmemorable.I even forgot this was Chris Makepeaceís first film, but at the time, shenanigans at a summer camp had not been done like this and it had its imitators that were worse.


However, Murray steals the show acting wacky like no comic actor had before and he saves the film for what it is.This put Reitman on the map, which allowed him to follow with two more Murray hit: Stripes and Ghostbusters.Since then, he has done much worse than this film including Ghostbusters II, Junior, Kindergarten Cop (despite making money), Twins, Dave and especially dreadful waste Legal Eagles.This at least is not as pretentious and if you have never seen it, you should see it once, but donít expect much.


Extras include a Trailer Gallery and feature length audio commentary track by Reitman and Co-Writer/Producer Dan Goldberg.




All four Blu-rays offer 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers, save the 1.85 X 1 image on Good, which is easily the best-looking of the four films and lensed by Director of Photography John Bailey, A.S.C.Hammers and Demoted look like and are HD shoots which have their share of motion blur, color limits and detail issues.Meatballs has a print that shows its age, though it does offer some great demo shots a few times.That leaves Good with a recent transfer from a nice 35mm source (only looking lesser in the opening credits) and much like the 35mm print I saw in its original release.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Good is also superior to the same type of mix on Hammers, the DTS-MA 2.0 Mono on Meatballs and Dolby TrueHD 5.12 mix on Demoted.While Good has a solid soundfield throughout with good ambient sound, Zimmerís well-recorded score and sound effects to go with its dialogue and jokes throughout, Hammers and Demoted are not as well recorded, have their dialogue too much towards the center channel and have inconsistent soundfields.Meatballs will likely never sound better unless the sound is upgraded and the Elmer Bernstein score is a plus.




As noted above, As Good As It Gets can be ordered while supplies last at:





-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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