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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Cable TV > Relationships > Sex > Embarassment > Summer Camp > Children > Addiction > Drugs > Classi > Girls – The Complete First Season (2012/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD)/Heavy Weights (aka Heavyweights/1995/Disney Blu-ray)/Why Stop Now (2012/IFC/MPI Blu-ray)

Girls – The Complete First Season (2012/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD)/Heavy Weights (aka Heavyweights/1995/Disney Blu-ray)/Why Stop Now (2012/IFC/MPI Blu-ray)


Picture: B- (Girls DVDs: C)     Sound: B- & C+/B-/B-     Extras: B-/D/C     Main Programs: B-/D/C



Though he might be slipping a bit now, Judd Apatow and the comedy of humiliating personal moments has well marked the current cycle of comedy, though new comedy styles and ideas are starting to show up.  The following Blu-ray releases show the influence, rise and fall of that Apatow style.



Girls – The Complete First Season (2012) is a pleasant surprise of a cable TV comedy about young adults trying to find happiness, sex, fun and some semblance of a future as created by Lena Dunham, whose independent feature film comedy Tiny Furniture was recently released by The Criterion Collection.


Somewhat it its vein and with some interesting intersections to the Apatow style (he is co-producer of this series) we get a well-written, well-acted, ongoing tale of four young women, the lives they have, their expectations, disappointments and the men who might help or hold them back.  At first, the early episodes seem like much of what we have seen before, but as I stuck with the show, things started to snowball and become more interesting.  By the end of the ten episodes that make up the debut season, I was surprised how well everything melded to tell the stories and when so much could have gone wrong, Dunham and company really pull of a good show.


The casting is great all around, with cross chemistry impressive and what you need for such a show to work.  It never becomes a soap opera and I hope it becomes a huge hit in a way I also felt about another show that was so good and not enough people watched it at first: The Big Bang Theory.  Though it is a very different show, it is still a comedy and has as many interesting characters throughout, but is also far more down-to-earth, as well as a show that does the rare job of dealing with sexually graphic situations and material in an honest way that only adds to the narrative.  See it!


Extras in the slipcase packaging include a Digital Copy for PC, PC portable devices and iTunes capable devices, a nicely illustrated booklet on the show with some amusing text, a DVD version of the series, plus the discs themselves add five episode audio commentary tracks with various actors and behind-the-scenes people, plus Dunham and Apatow, Table Reads, Fresh Air! interview segment to promote the show, Inside The Episodes pieces, Cast Auditions, Making Of featurette, a Gag Reel in two parts, Deleted & Extended Scenes and two separate on camera interview clips: one with “The Girls” and the other with Apatow and Dunham.



Back in 1995, Apatow tried to make the jump from TV to feature films co-writing the hideously bad Heavy Weights (also listed as one compound word) with an unfunny Ben stiller as the head of a summer camp for heavy set boys and even Tim Blake Nelson turning up cannot save this horrid mess.  A young Kenan Thompson being here will make this an additional curio, but the script is awful and worst of all, it was directed by one of Hollywood’s biggest hacks.


Stephen Brill is the kind of robotic, soulless helmer who has made so many bad movies that one can loose track.  This was a dud and his debut film, yet the one-time character actor was hired to make more awful films like Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Without A Paddle (or is that without a script?) and the inept Drillbit Taylor.  Guess he gets hired so studios can have big tax write-offs, because he has no business being behind any camera, even a surveillance camera.  If anything, his whole career is like a guide on how not to do narrative motion pictures.  He sadly has two more films supposedly in production, but if they fail miserably, he should go to director’s jail and back to acting permanently.


The many inexplicable extras here sadly include 30 rightly Deleted & Extended Scenes, a feature length audio commentary track with more people than it needed to have (none of whom can explain why this is a disaster), an Original Theatrical Trailer and five additional featurettes including a boring Making Of one that is one of the worst I have ever seen in home video history!



Finally we have Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner co-writing, co-directing and failing to make funny a new feature called Why Stop Now (2012) with Jesse Eisenberg yet again playing another guy with some heart in a bad situation trying to make his life better but facing bad odds in making things happen.  He has a sister who complain all the time, a mother (Melissa Leo) who is addicted to drugs and cannot stop and the has to deal with her pusher (a flat Tracy Morgan almost laughably bad and over the top as a ghetto-wise dealer who thinks he knows it all, causing any potential this had to collapse).


Eli Bloom (Eisenberg) is also a talented pianist with great talent, but he is now also becoming an alcoholic on some level, so we get 88 minutes of this including yet more character voiceover work by Eisenberg that he has done one too many times.  Though Judd Apatow is not involved, this film would not have been greenlit without his many hits and Eisenberg being cast just confirms that.  Despite the talent and potential, it just never works and that’s a shame because Eisenberg is a good actor as is Leo.  Ultimately, the Dorling/Nyswaner team got in each other’s way and the result is disappointing.


Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, Making Of featurette and interview with Morgan that is flat.



All three Blu-ray offer 1080p digital High Definition image transfers with three different aspect ratios (Girls at 1.78 X 1, Heavy at 1.85 X 1, Stop at 2.35 X 1), but all are of equal quality with some good shots, some soft shots and some motion blur, though Girls narrowly is the best performer and also has better image performance that the passable anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presented on its DVD version.


All three also offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes with somewhat inconsistent soundfields, though they all can claim to be somewhat dialogue-based, Heavy shows its age and Stop some budget limits.  The Girls DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on their episodes which are weaker than the DTS on the Blu-rays.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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