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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Relationships > Stand Up > Politics > Western > The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012/Fox Blu-ray)/D. L. Hughley: Reset – Live & Uncut (2012/Image DVD)/Everybody’s Fine (2009/Miramax/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Something Big (1971/National General/Cinema Cen

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012/Fox Blu-ray)/D. L. Hughley: Reset – Live & Uncut (2012/Image DVD)/Everybody’s Fine (2009/Miramax/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Something Big (1971/National General/Cinema Center/CBS DVD)


Picture: B-/C+/B-/C+     Sound: B-/B-/B-/C+     Extras: C/D/C/C-     Main Programs: C/B/C/C+



Now for some comedies with drama on the side.



We start with a surprise hit in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), Director John Madden (of the slightly overrated hit Shakespeare In Love and the highly underrated Proof) gives us a safe, amusing, smart, but too fuzzy, safe tale of several British persons who decide to visit the title locale, located in former British colony India.  The cast includes Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith and is the best I have seen India look in a British film since either Lean’s A Passage To India or the 1983 Bond film Octopussy.


With that said, the combination of a fine cast and good-looking film with a capable director equals competence and a serviceable storyline, but not much else and when Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel shows up running the hotel itself, realism goes out the door.  Still it is one of the better film releases by default in a really bad year for movies and I can’t blame anyone for liking this one, even if I did not.  Now you can see for yourself.


Extras include five making-of/behind-the-scenes featurettes showing tr5eh chemistry that made this work when it does.



Far less safe, bolder and more daring, D. L. Hughley: Reset – Live & Uncut (2012) follows his great Unapologetic stand-up DVD which we covered at this link:




I am convinced that Hughley is one of the best comic talents in the world today and cannot name anyone else with two such strong stand-up releases in recent years.  This time, he tackles politics, the trials of Obama, The Jacksons, is politically incorrect as anything and non-stop on the money for the cannot-be-long-enough 58 minutes where the audience is with him instantly and just melds more and more with him throughout.  Why does this man not get more credit for being as ingenious as he is?


There are sadly no extras, but hope we see and hear more of him very soon.  In the meantime, get this disc!



Kirk Jones’ remake of the Marcello Mastroianni film Everybody’s Fine (2009) with Robert De Niro in the lead as a father with grown kids and some empty nest syndrome is lightly comic, well cast with a great trio in Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore and Sam Rockwell and De Niro is also good.  The problem is that this is very predictable and never adds up to more than the sum of its parts, so I was bored and not sure of when it thought it was funny as I was not laughing.


The drama is lightly convincing, but as much as I liked everyone and the locations, this just never gels.  Even Paul McCartney’s song (and I am a big fan of his too) for the end titles is not very memorable or effective, so whatever they were all going for is unknown by the end of it all.  Still, some people liked this and you might want to see for yourself if it works.  You could do much worse.


Extras include the making of the McCartney song, plus Deleted & Extended Scenes.



Finally we have another film with some of the same cohesion issues, the Andrew V. McLaglen’s Something Big (1971), a Western from a veteran director of the genre that want to be a comedy of the time and a little more.  Following the comedy style of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) has Dean Martin properly cast as a con artist type who is planning the title event, but no one knows what that will be.


This becomes more entangled when he goes at it with military leader Brian Keith after kidnapping his wife (Honor Blackman of Goldfinger and The Avengers) to trade her for an early version of a machine gun, the Gatlin Gun.  Thus the chase begins, but the lite comedy stays light more than it should despite a fun cast that also includes Ben Johnson, Albert Salami, Denver Pyle, Don Knight, Merlin Olsen, Joyce Van Patten and Carol White amusing as the woman who is forcing Dean to marry her when his big whats-it is complete.


Adding to this is nice location shooting, a fun music score by the recently deceased Marvin Hamlisch and a title song by Burt Bacharach and the also recently late, great lyricist Hal David, sung by Paul Revere & The Raiders lead singer (and solo artist) Mark Lindsay (the same year the band had their huge megahit Indian Reservation; Lindsay had his big solo hit Arizona the year before) hoping for another big hit.  It did not happen, but it is not bad, while Hamlisch previously did the same kind of team-up with Bacharach/David on The April Fools with Dionne Warwick singing a Bacharach/David original and Hamlisch composing the score.


It still makes for an interesting curio and slightly deconstructive genre work, but as a comedy, it and others like it would soon be swept to the side by the insanely massive blockbuster box office of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (also reviewed on Blu-ray on this site) but Something Big is still worth a look and deserves to be rediscovered because it has an audience waiting to rediscover it and proves once again that Martin could carry a film as its star anytime.  A trailer is the only extra.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 32 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Exotic and 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Fine are the best transfers here, especially being the only two Blu-rays here, but have their detail issues and limits.  Exotic was shot in the Super 35mm film format with Fuji film stocks and will be one of the last before Fuji discontinues all of its motion picture stocks at the end of 2012, while Fine was shot in HD on a Panavision Genesis with more motion blur and image issues narrowly less good-looking as a result.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Hughley and anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image in Big tie for second place and look pretty good for the format, though both could use HD Blu-ray releases.  Hughley is a simple, competent HD shoot, while Big was originally issued as a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor film in its 35mm film original run (all such prints are very valuable now) and you can see how good that color looks throughout much of this fine-condition print.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on both Blu-rays have many quiet moments and are dialogue-based narratives, so the surrounds are only going to be so active and the LFE .1 channel so deep with bass, but they are as good as they are going to get and these versions are as good as the films could possibly sound.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Hughley is about as good when played in Pro Logic for healthy mono surrounds and is as loud as anything on the list, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Big shows its age, it sounds pretty good for its age down to the music discussed above.  Too bad those original soundmasters could not be recovered as they likely still exist in stereo and a stereo or 5.1 upgrade of this film would be possible, especially if the dialogue and location audio survived.  Otherwise, it is as good as the original sound is going to sound in lossy Dolby.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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