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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Relationships > Slapstick > Romance > Eccentric > Class Division > Feminism > British > Drama > Fam > Cluny Brown (1946/Fox*)/The Daytrippers (1996/*both Criterion Blu-rays)/Good Boys (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Love, Gilda (2018/Magnolia DVD)/Lucky (2016/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Sando (20

Cluny Brown (1946/Fox*)/The Daytrippers (1996/*both Criterion Blu-rays)/Good Boys (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Love, Gilda (2018/Magnolia DVD)/Lucky (2016/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Sando (2018/Acorn DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Lucky Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray, 4K and DVD players that can handle the PAL format and can be ordered from the link below.

The following comedies have highs, lows, darkness and sadness, including a documentary about one of the funniest women of all time...

Ernst Lubitsch's Cluny Brown (1946) turned out to be the last film of the director's he got to finish on his own and it is an amusing comedy about a suppressed young woman (the underrated Jennifer Jones as the title character) who can do all kinds of things, but her gender, family, socio-economic class and men she meets keep holding her back. This is handled with some irony and some good comedy, some of which is slapstick.

Taking place in England during WWII, Charles Boyer is a man with some mystery about him as he has apparently fled Nazi persecution, or something even more, A young Peter Lawford shows up as part of the supporting cast along with C. Aubrey Smith, Helen Walker, Reginald Owen, Richard Haydn, Florence Bates and Reginald Gardiner.

Though often associated with Paramount and MGM, Lubitsch made this final film for Fox and it has some funny moments and nice moments when the cast clicks, which is often. I do wish it worked more often, but it is good enough that everyone should see it at least once. Nice it has been taken care of with this solid new Criterion edition.

Extras include a high quality paper foldout with an essay by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt, while the disc adds a new conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme on unconventional female characters in Ernst Lubitsch's films, new video essay by film scholar Kristin Thompson, The Lubitsch Touch, an interview with film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz from 2004 and a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1947, featuring Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer.

Greg Mottola's The Daytrippers (1996) is the underrated filmmaker's first feature film, a comedy (like his later Adventureland) about how people interact for better, worse and in strangely comic ways they might not even be totally aware of. Lucking out by having a bunch of then-new actors soon to be stars and critically acclaimed, Hope Davis and Stanley Tucci play a loving couple who seem very happy together, sexually and otherwise, but after another great night together, she discovers a piece of paper that suggests he might actually be having an affair.

How could this be? Was last night a big lie? If so, what is wrong with him? Usually, that would mean she decides to try to find out on her own, but her whole family and others connected to them and the result is a daytime road trip to New York City to find out just what he is really doing.

Anne Meara and John McNamara are her parents, Parker Posey her cynical sister and Liev Schreiber her boyfriend, so they join in the trip and the madness begins. Campbell Scott and Marcia Gay Harden also show up in pivotal roles delivering great work and the result is the kind of fun, smart, risk taking piece of independent cinema we used to see all the time, but has been crowded out of cineplexes in recent years thanks to the current slate of overstuffed blockbusters (and not just superhero films), reminding us strongly of what we miss when we do not have this kind of vital cinema: we miss a better film future.

The film has some ups and downs in quality, but it is often remarkable under the circumstances, budget and that so much talent landed up together so early on, though it would still hold its own if even Meara was an unknown. Once again, its Criterion to the rescue of another cinematic experience everyone should check out.

Extras include a high quality paper foldout with an essay by critic Emily Nussbaum, while the disc adds a new feature-length audio commentary featuring Mottola, editor Anne McCabe, and producer Steven Soderbergh, new interviews with Mottola and cast members Hope Davis, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, and Campbell Scott and The Hatbox, a 1985 short film by Mottola, with audio commentary by the director.

Gene Stupnitsky's Good Boys (2019) is a new outrageous comedy co-produced by Seth Rogen and his usual company of comedy-minded creators, but the team that gave us Superbad has created a formula film about three pre-teen males (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon) that has gross moments, sexual 'jokes' that are supposed to shock and other moments that are of the 'that's real wrong' variety, but now that we are in an era that is that every day, this film seems trite on the one hand and exploitive of the children involved on the other hand.

It does not help that many of the adults are written as idiots and worse, but to explain the many problems with this film would take an essay with too many spoilers to go into, but even in this R-rated-only version (I cannon imagine NC-17/unrated) here, anyone could have made this film and only because this had name producers did this ever get any kind of release. Yes, there are a few amusing moments, but it is just lazy, flat, dull and mostly forgettable.

Still, I had problems with the age of the children being in the midst of this kind of comedy. If the film did not go too far, it went too low for our own good. Don't expect much.

Extras (per the press release) include an UNRATED ALTERNATE ENDING


    • Turtle vs. Tortoise

    • Benji Don't Like That

    • Customer Service

    • Ball Pit Shenanigans

    • Tracking Molly

    • Stealing a Glance

    • Upsell Fail

    • Max Explodes

    • Best Friends

    • Traffic Jam

    • First Kiss Heartbreak


  • BOYS FOR REAL - A look into the casting process and real-life friendships that evolved on-set.

  • WELCOME TO VANCOUVER - Watch as Jacob Tremblay shows off some of his favorite things about his home town.

  • A FINE LINE - Hear filmmakers and cast discuss how the film's stars delivered such colorful dialogue without necessarily knowing what the words mean.

  • ASK YOUR PARENTS - Cast and filmmakers talk about how they were able to navigate adult questions from curious child actors.

  • BAD GIRLS - Molly Gordon and Midori Francis discuss how they were able to ramp up the mean, and how Annabelle was able to raise the comedy stakes.

  • GUEST STARS - Take a closer look at some of the hilarious guest stars that lent their unique talents to the film.


Lisa D'Apolito's Love, Gilda (2018) is an excellent look at one of the greatest comedy talents of the 20th Century, the late, great Gilda Radner. Best known for being in the first season of NBC's Saturday Night, now still on the air as Saturday Night Live, she was actually the first to audition, coming off of work with Second City (who eventually got their own TV show) and National Lampoon live comedy team (who turned down doing the show that became SNL!), so she was as ready as anyone in the cast to take on comedy. Especially after 11:30PM EST, where they could get away with a little more adult content than what prime time hours allowed at the time.

However, we get an entire biography starting with her childhood, its ups and downs, then her personal problems and loves as she finally becomes a comic. Turns out her move to Canada gets her into a group of talents who proved highly prolific as they take on the musical Godspell opening in that country for the first time and its a stunning Cinderella story to a great extent for Radner in the beginning.

After making SNL a classic, she is established as hilarious, though she is having unidentified problems that turn out to be depression tied with weight gain, weight loss and self-image issues at a time when no one quite knew what they were about. It also deals with her taking a break form the business, getting involved again, how she found the love of her life with the great Gene Wilder and then, getting cancer. She fights back as best she can, but the treatments then are not as good as now and it is still a problem (one that should have been solved by now) and we see how she deals with it all.

Turns out not only are there are good number of home movies and pictures to go with her public performance work, but she audiotaped extensively her thoughts about her life and those tapes survived, so we get to hear her have the final word on just about everything and it is a revelation. It also shows who we lost, what we lost and why she should never be forgotten. If you've seen how funny she is, you don't forget.

Interviews include family, friends, archival interviews, later SNL cast members, members of SNL she worked with including Larraine Newman, Martin Short and Paul Schaffer, now best known for heading the band for all of David Letterman's TV shows. He offers particularly excellent insight.

Anyone serious about comedy, the entertainment industry or history needs to make this one a must-see.

Extras include extended interviews, home movies, original theatrical trailers and Gilda's Gallery.

John Carroll Lynch's Lucky (2016) is essentially a lead showcase for one of the greatest character actors of all time, Harry Dean Stanton. He plays the 90-year-old title character, a 90-year-old atheist whose name has some irony to it, but has had it his way to find himself, the world and what he wanted for the most part, save serious wealth. Happiness? Sometimes.

The script is good and has the characters discuss many matters without it ever getting preachy or silly, thanks in part to a supporting cast that includes Beth Grant, Tom Skerritt (his co-star from Alien), Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., James Darren and David Lynch in a rare acting role where he gets more than a few scenes.

Apparently getting a better release overseas, I'll hypothesize it was somewhat censored and banned in the United States not because of its quality or anything shocking, but because the lead is an atheist and there has been a war on such people since around... 1980. That's a shame because there is a larger audience for this film everywhere, even if I thought it was uneven. It is ambitious, adult and an all too rare look at aging and mortality to boot, so if you are interested,m you'll want to go out of your way for it.

There are no extras.

Finally, we have the TV comedy Sando (2018) with Sacha Horler as Victoria 'Sando' Sandringham, the queen of discount furniture, but on her daughter's wedding day, just before she got married, Sando and the rest of the family finds out she is pregnant ...with her daughter's groom. Ten years later and being kicked out of Sando's Warehouse Inc. Sando is forced to move back with the rest of her family. Only problem is everyone hates her ...but Sando is the Queen the Deals.

Sando is a selfish, get rich quick, grandmother who would sell her own daughter off if she thought she could get laid (which she did). Both her daughter and son have major mommy issues, Susie hates her mother for manipulating her and the entire family for their entire life. Eric has an Oedipus and inferiority complex with his mother. Her ex-husband Don is secretly sleeping with Nicky, Susie's live-in-therapist/best friend. And her current husband Gary is secretly addicted to skinny dipping in the backyard pool whenever he is stressed. As Sando fixes and worms her way back into her company (and her family), the very thing that drives them crazy may be also be the thing that can save the family.

This series is comedy with a matriarch character who is able to manipulate, blackmail and sell anything with a wink, smile and deal. She is hated by her whole family, but she manages to somehow always blackmail her way back into the family. Extras include cast interviews, Sando Warehouse commercial, 'Real Deal' music video and trailers

Episodes include...

Prodigal Mum - An affair and 10 years later, Sando returns to her family while her own company thrown her out.

Sorry - Sando tries to convince her daughter to let her stay and tries to cut a 'deal' saying she ready to be a 'good' mother with a fake apology.

New Mum - Sando discovers Don and Nicky are nymphomaniacs and Gary's addiction to skinny dipping and then blackmails them to help her stay. Eric tries to work in the family business but instead causes disaster.

Therapy - Sando is hypnotized to be completely kind, generous and unselfish which freaks the entire family out and they eventually decide (grudgingly) they prefer the old Sando back.

Lockdown - Don tries to follow his dreams and write songs instead of jingles. Gary discovers a scary picture of Susie when she was young.

Family Business - Sando must make a 'family' commercial to try and convince the board to let her back in the family business.

Now for playback performance.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Cluny Brown can show the age of the materials used which is a 4K scan from a composite 35mm fine grain archival print, but it is certain superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and looks good throughout despite not always being perfect.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Daytrippers was shot on Kodak film negative in the Super 16mm format and though you can see some grain here and there, this looks good and is well shot, also from a 4K scan, this time from the original camera negative.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Good Boys is a HD shoot that looks good for what it is, but nothing special, so the anamorphically enhanced DVD included is the softest presentation on the list and hard to watch. Stick with the Blu-ray.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Love, Gilda is as good as can be expected for the format (this deserves a Blu-ray release) and includes home movies shot both on photochemical film (some of which only survive on VHS copies) and actual VHS tapings. Add professional video from her TV work and other archival footage and you get a mix of formats throughout. Analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. The newly HD shot interviews are fine, but the 35mm film footage of her along with still pictures are the best of her on camera here.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Lucky is well shot and an HD shoot, but nothing to extraordinary, though it keeps its rugged look intact throughout.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Sando is as good looking as any of the DVDs here and is a nice, newly shot HD production with consistent color. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is solid as well.

Sound for the rest of the titles are good, starting with the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Boys, mostly dialogue and joke based, but the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is a bit harder to follow in spots.

The PCM 2.0 Mono on Cluny Brown shows its age, but sounds as warm and clear here as we are likely to ever hear it, while the PCM 2.0 Stereo on Daytrippers has some minor location audio issues and shows its budget limits being an analog recording (unless this is early digital), being slightly on the weak side. Still, it is as good as almost anything here.

That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Gilda and Lucky about even, the former a mix of old mono, new mono and new stereo recordings with music added, while the latter is dialogue-based and takes its time.

To order the Sando Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Sando)


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