Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Wrong Guy

The Wrong Guy
Buena Vista Home Video
Released: September 2002
Director: David Steinberg
90:00 minutes

Dave Foley, known for his roles as Dave Nelson on Newsradio and as the most feminine looking of the Kids in the Hall, stars in The Wrong Guy, a terrifically funny movie that you are likely to have never seen and probably never heard of.

One reason you have never heard of this movie is that it was released in 1997 in Canada, then in July of 1998 in Poland. It was only in September of 2002 was this movie released directly to video in the United States.

The story follows Nelson Hibbert, a company executive who goes in to have it out with his boss only to find out his boss has been murdered. He then panics, makes some horrific blunders that would make anyone believe that he did it, and goes on the run, thinking all the while that the police are hot on his trail.

Thing is, a security camera catches the actual murderer on tape, and the police know Nelson Hibbert didn't do it.

Thus begins a tale in which Nelson, as the bumbling idiot, stumbles his way from one town to the next in an attempt to escape the authorities he believes are on his tail. On the way he meets up with a narcoleptic love interest (Played by Meg Tilly) and runs into the real killer (Colm Feore, whom you've seen in thousands of films but probably don't realize it) as well as a some minor appearances by Kevin McDonald as a hotel clerk and Joe Flaherty as a simple country banker.

To reveal any more about this movie would ruin some of the jokes, which come frequent and are filled with a lot of originality, it strays away from doing a simply parody of The Fugitive, which was done in 1998's Wrongfully Accused, and instead delivers a madcap romp that has the same kind of tone and pacing as a good Simpsons episode (remember those?)

The directing was done by David Steinberg, a veteran of directing television series such as Seinfeld, It's Garry Shandling's Show and, post-movie, Curb Your Enthusiasm. The experience in directing comedy shines here, where sight gags and timing isn't ruined by inappropriate framing or clunky shot progression. There's one really good gag at the end, at a miniature golf course that requires a lot on the skill of the director, and Steinberg pulls it off well.

Also of note is that Steinberg doesn't make the mistake that most film directors make in a transition to film directing, and that is a tendency to use a lot of static shots with heavy cutting. The camera moves and, when it moves, its appropriate and elegant. Mind you, it isn't the cinema beauty of Run, Lola Run, but it's a few steps above from the clunkiness of Dogma.

Of note is that David Foley wanted to direct this himself, but his shooting schedule for Newsradio didn't allow him to do it.

Also of note is that this movie is the main reason that Dave Foley does not have a writing credit on the Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy. This movie, along with his shooting schedule for Newsradio, did not give him time to help write the final draft of Brain Candy. This makes one wonder if Brain Candy would have been slightly better had Mr. Foley gotten one last crack at it.

Disappointingly, this DVD is one of those where all you get is a movie, surround sound, and subtitles for other languages. It's too bad there really isn't anything extra of value, because a commentary by Dave Foley or David Steinberg would have been really a plus on a movie like this.

At the very least you get The Wrong Guy, which is a hilarious movie and a fine addition to any DVD comedy library.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Let America Laugh

Let America Laugh
Publisher: Sub Pop Records
Released: November 4, 2003
Director: Lance Bangs
Time: 2 hours, 10 minu

David Cross: to some, he's one half of Mr. Show. To others, he's one half God. To others he's "Oh! That guy, I've seen him in something on Fox, maybe?" This DVD follows the tour in documentary style that David Cross went on across America with the band Ultrababyfat in tow after releasing his CD Shut Up You Fucking Baby.

The DVD features the documentary, broken up into chapters, which follows the same nomenclature as the Shut Up You Fucking Baby CD, meaning that the chapters have a name that has nothing to do with the actual material. Yes, sadly, the chapter "Is There Another Christ?" leads to nothing on the subject. There's also no visual associated with each chapter name, so if you want to get to a specific place on the DVD... you'll just have to memorize it I guess.

For the curious, menus are not animated. In fact, when you select certain menu items, there is a noticeable flicker that shouldn't be there. It detracts a little. On the plus side, as a kind of an Easter Egg, if you just wait on any menu for ten seconds you'll hear a variety of different audio clips, such as messages left on the director's answering machine by David Cross and Bob Odenkirk.

Besides the documentary on the DVD there are "Special Features" in which you find well, just deleted scenes. One has to wonder why there are deleted scenes from this documentary seeing as it's going to probably only be seen in this DVD format, but whatever. They're funny, more of the same kind of stuff you would see on the documentary.

Ah, yes, so, what will you see in the documentary? Well, first off, the budget on this must have been uh, about fifty, no, sixty dollars! Maybe a carton of cigarettes was thrown in, I don't know. Except for the introduction and subsequent "office" bits which were professionally done, it looks like the documentary was shot handheld on a Sony camcorder. There's an amicable job done of filming with the camcorder by Lance Bangs, but it still looks like a documentary shot on a camcorder. That, and if I'm not mistaken, it also looks like it was edited on someone's Macintosh using Final Cut Pro. A fairly good job is done on both fronts... there's not a time where you say "oh, this is unwatchable" but it has a certain cheapness to it that makes you think that maybe it's not worth $13.

Anyway, about the "office" bits... basically at the beginning, end and at points in the middle we see David in a fictional job as a menial office worker, watching him as his boss, his wife and all watch parts of the documentary and condemn him for his horrible life as a stand-up comedian.

While these bits are kinda funny, they are also dumb. I found myself often saying "okay, okay, can we get back to the documentary please?" Maybe they got a lot of money to do this documentary and, seeing as they spent barely a thing on it, had to justify the expense some how. "Quick! Uh, come up with some expensive comedy bit we can tape to insert in there! Uh... premise, premise... David works a day job at a corporate office! Yeah! Go with it!"

Now, the documentary part is where the funny is. However, as the disclaimer states, this "IS NOT A CONCERT FILM! This DVD is an unflinching, behind-the-scenes look at David Cross' 2002 comedy tour."

And indeed it is.

You get to see David mess around with fireworks in the dead of night in Minneapolis. You get to see David perform before an awful crowd Little Rock. See David late to a Mr. Show DVD signing. You get to see what his sister is like and hear a little bit of what he was like growing up, but that's it. No in-depth examination of who David Cross is and why he would choose to go cross-country and tell jokes in shitty clubs.

Instead, the documentary tends to focus more on the people that come to see David Cross and the people that David has to deal with on his tour, which follows a choice that makes it more light entertainment than in depth documentary, but you won't really mind because it's damn funny.

For example, while getting ready to do a show at a bar in Nashville, David ask the manager to remove the tables and chairs from the venue, because, (as he correctly points out) the place will be packed and it will be pretty much standing room only. The manager refuses because he's afraid that without tables and chairs, he won't be able to sell any food, and thus, lose a lot of money.

By showtime, the tables and chairs are removed, but the manager of the bar doesn't get away scott-free. David then proceeds to verbally thrash the manager of the bar during his act. As a result, he gets banned from the club and asked to leave immediately after the gig is over. So, David does leave... after taking 35 minutes to get a poster and record into his bookbag.

The rest of the documentary has more of incidents such as that, with some background music from Arlo, The Shins, Kokomo, and a bunch of other bands you have never heard of.

So, to sum up. You will like this CD if you like to see a lot of stupid and/or drunk people with David Cross deftly dealing with them all. An entertaining freakshow---not unlike watching Dick Cheney, except the bald guy with glasses isn't raw, bottomless evil.

It's Not Funny

It's Not Funny, released in the ancient time of 2004, was the second major CD release for comedian David Cross after the 2-disc Shut Up, You Fucking Baby. It is, indeed, funny.

Okay, let us start with the packaging of this little gem itself. It comes in a heavy paper stock case. On the front cover is a stark black and white photo of David in concert, and on the back there is an adorable picture of David as a child from 1974.

Also, upon opening the case, you will find this little piece of paper within:

I won't ruin the surprise by telling you what's on the piece of paper, but I will tell you that it is relevant and isn't just a big piece of paper with the words "FUCK YOU!" written on it, which I have often thought of putting inside of Hannah Montana CD cases at the store.

Now, not one of the track listings give you a clue to the actual content on that track, which s are more a commentary on the hackneyed acts of other comedians than anything else. Tracks like "My Immigrant Mom Talks Funny!" and "Pandering to the Locals!" This, of course, makes it hard to find certain bits you like, but Cross has been doing this style of nomenclature for enough time now that it has become signature, and you really won't mind it.

The stand-up runs the range from commenting on how boring kids are, to how incredibly stupid it is that you can actually go out and buy electric scissors, to a complete trashing of the war in Iraq and President Bush.

Actually, "trashing" puts it lightly.

Suffice it to say its not for the member of your family who has a big "W in 2004" sticker on their car. He also goes after Homeland Security and Tom Ridge, the racism of Strom Thurmond, and portrays Dennis Miller as a court jester for George W's amusement.

In the most extreme of all the examples from the album, David Cross jokes about Bush killing and eating a Jewish baby. He adds, "That's the only evil, crazy thing for Bush, you know, to do, that's left. He must be getting bored!"

So, yes, if you hate George W. Bush if you hate the War in Iraq, this album is right up your alley.
Still, it can already be felt that this album might get a lot of other reviewers saying how this album is bad "angry" which is kind of like saying that you think Shakespeare is a bad because he's too wordy. Whoever labels this album as bad because it is too angry is missing the point. When Cross is angry, he's angry at something stupid and wrong, such as commentary on the aforementioned selling of electric scissors:

"Ostensibly it's to save time, I think, it's a TIME SAVER...because it will save you over 2.7 seconds...and that shit adds up! That shit adds up..."

David's sarcastic, quick wit doesn't come just come through on his own bits, though. There are instances in the album which David interacts with people reacts to audience members. For instance, David jokes:

"I do believe that, on a whole, women are definitely smarter than men...I also believe that dogs are smarter than women."

After that, woman from the audience says, "I'm not buying that."

"You are right to not believe it," David replies, "I'm going to go ahead and admit it, that I do not believe what I just said---it was what's described as a joke. I'll be telling a bunch of 'em here tonight."

In addition to the regular, easy-to-find bits on the album, there, stashed 8 minutes and 35 seconds into the last track is a bit in which David Cross tells about his experience when he met the lead singer of Creed on Bravo's Celebrity Poker. A hoot.

And that's the most important thing to remember this's a hoot. It's a riot. It is damn, damn, damn funny. It's Not Funny redeems the section in your music store labeled "Comedy." Well, no, not really. That's asking quite a bit. There's a lot of Carlos Mencia CDs that would have to spontaneously combust.

It is funny, though.