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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Mumblecore > Myth > Satan > Supernatural > French > Idiocy > Computers > Spaghetti Western > As Cool As I Am (2011/MPI/IFC Blu-ray)/The Beauty Of The Devil (1950/Gaumont/Cohen Media Blu-ray)/Grown Ups 2 (2013/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Internship (2013/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/My Name Is Nobody (1973/

As Cool As I Am (2011/MPI/IFC Blu-ray)/The Beauty Of The Devil (1950/Gaumont/Cohen Media Blu-ray)/Grown Ups 2 (2013/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Internship (2013/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/My Name Is Nobody (1973/Image Blu-ray)

Picture: B-/B-/B- & C/B- & C/B- Sound: B-/C+/B- & C+/B & B-/C+ Extras: C-/C+/D/C-/D Films: C/C+/D/C-/C+

Here is a wide-ranging set of comedies that show how unfunny and even odd the genre can become.

Max Mayer's As Cool As I Am (2011) tries to be a combination of a feel good family film and a processed mumblecore film and fails badly at both as young Lucy (Sarah Bolger) wants more of a family as her father is absentee dad (an odd James Marsden) and working mother (Claire Danes) leave her more alone than she would like, despite some male friends she is tentatively involved with. It starts with bad, obvious jokes, than goes to a set up, another set of bad jokes, another set up and keeps doing this until it is obvious after a little while it has nowhere to go.

She also wants to be a Mario Batali kind of cook and that rings phony, but the whole 92 minutes never adds up and is not cool as anything. Not even Cool As Ice with Vanilla Ice! Batali joins in as part of a series of familiar cameos, but that feels like filler for a bad script and this is a big disappointment that does not know where to go.

Extras include a Behind The Scenes featurette and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Rene Clair's The Beauty Of The Devil (1950) is a comic, non-musical retelling of Faust with Michael Simon (when Faust & Satan are older) and Gerard Philipe (when they are younger) in dual roles that work well enough, but cover much of the same comic territory we have seen in other adaptations and take-offs of the same material over many decades. Gaumont put out some money and effort to make this film work at the time and it is intelligent, energetic, humorous and ambitious, but it has not dated well and was never my favorite Clair film to being with. Nice that the Cohen Media Group has issues such a nice Blu-ray so you can see for yourself. However, only expect so much if you are seeing it for the first time or for the first time in a while.

Clair had fared better with Le Million (1931), the more commercial I Married A Witch (1942, both issued by Criterion) and his solid 1947 film of Agatha Christie's ...and then there were none (see the VCI Blu-ray reviewed elsewhere on this site) with this film not always having the character of his best films. Still, it is worth seeing and is as good as anything in this review.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film with cast/crew listings, while the Blu-ray disc adds a vintage and new Theatrical Trailer, plus an hour-long featurette on Clair and the making of the film with friends, co-workers and scholars who knew him.

Vastly more Satanic is the new Adam Sandler film, Dennis Dugan's extremely, absolutely, unnecessary Grown Ups 2 (2013) which is one of the true horror stories of 2013. Made by Sony as a sure thing along with some films that bombed for them this summer (the awful After Earth (as bad as this!) and White House Down), surprise bombs (by everyone except those who actually like motion pictures) from every studio were so bad that this sequel slipped through and made money!

Sandler is joined by Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade sleepwalking through every unfunny line, unfunny scene and everything these people have done a dozen times in their career before. They got lucky and we did not. Only see this is you are trying to acquire permanent brain damage.

Sadly, there are extras including the DVD, HD Ultraviolet Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes affiliated devices, Deleted Scenes and a dumb featurette about nothing, plus we get three more tired featurettes as Blu-ray exclusives including ones on cameos by name stars who must have needed the money or were extremely bored with their lives.

Shawn Levy's The Internship (2013) is not quite as cynical, but it unnecessarily reunites Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson doing their same old schtick together where they try to go to Google Campus (this place exists?) to reinvent themselves after their dead end careers as (analog?) salesmen have died out, much like the lame screenplay the actors have to work with.

I can see why this was a dud and even Unrated, I can't image who the audience is for this or if the audience for these actors still exists. I guess if they acted dumber and more idiotic like Sandler and company, this would have made money, but this duo has more talent and even at this low, tired level, that was too much for the leave-your-brain-at-the-door audience. This is barely better by default, but is still a yawner.

Extras include the DVD and Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds the Any Given Monday featurette, a feature length audio commentary track by Levy and Deleted Scenes.

Finally we have a Spaghetti Western that gets so silly, it belongs on this list. From a restored print that still needs work, My Name Is Nobody (1973) was made when those films got too silly for their own good and this one gets slap happy too often and literally! Co-written and co-produced by Sergio Leone, Tonini Valerii (A Day Of Anger) is credited as the sole director, but it is erroneously referred to as Leone film on the opening title card announcing it is a restored print and looks like Leone may have at least done some reshoots.

Terence Hill plays the adult version of a young boy who was so stunned by what a great gunslinger Henry Fonda is that he grows up to be the next great himself. However, they have their own opponents after stolen money in groups of professional thieves, so can they working separately get the big money they want for themselves and survive? This potentially interesting scenario where they never really collaborate is never realized and foes for so much comedy that fans of the more serious Leone films will be disappointed and even shocked.

R.G. Armstrong, Steve Kanaly and Geoffrey Lewis show up among the cast of unknowns for amusing turns, but this is a novelty and curio for the most diehard fans of these Westerns only and reminds us how quickly this cycle died out.

There are no extras, but a trailer and some poster art would have been nice.

For different reasons, all the Blu-rays have their image limits, starting with the HD-shot 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Cool and Grown, which have a few nice shots, but also come across as generic too often and lack color range, while the anamorphically enhanced Grown DVD is very soft and very hard to watch, much like the hit itself.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Devil can be soft in parts, show the age of the materials used in others, but I also noticed more grain than usual suggesting some material was either second generation or just shot on older stock that was not refined.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 24 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Internship is also an HD shoot, but at least it has a bit more color range than the other two HD shoots on the list above, but its anamorphically enhanced DVD image is also very hard to watch.

That leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Nobody, which claims to be a restored print, but the age of the materials used come through and there are more than a few glaring scratches, marks and tears that were not corrected, cleaned and fixed. Though issued overseas in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor upon its original release, Universal seems to have skipped such prints for the U.S. market. There is some good detail here, but not all the time and color can be a little limited and rarely on a level of the kind of Technicolor you would see in a Spaghetti Western.

Shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision by Director of Photography Giuseppe Ruzzolini (several of Pasolini's films including Porcile, Leone's’ A Fistful Of Dynamite, Portecorvo's Burn!) uses the very widescreen frame[pretty well, even if the shots are nothing new at this point and the improved definition of Panavision over cheaper Techniscope is does not show much here. Still, this is far superior to previous releases of the film. It just needs more work.

Not expecting much from the sound for any of these entries, all the Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, save PCM 2.0 Mono on Devil and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Dual Mono lossless sound on Nobody. Internship is the big surprise here with a very active, consistent soundfield throughout taking as much advantage of its DTS-MA 5.1 as a joke and dialogue-driven comedy could, plus its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 from the DVD version is more dynamic than expected either, finding itself easily competing with the limited DTS-MA 5.1 on the other two new films which are too much towards the front speakers. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Grown DVD is weaker and along with its DTS Blu-ray, shows how lazy the sound mix really is, which is why the older films with more sound character can actually compete.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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