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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
"She had the deep nurturing instincts and family things that make her the ideal mother for any unplanned child."
DVD ReviewLike the trendsetting Airplane! and Naked Gun, 2001: A Space Travesty is the type of broad slapstick comedy where endless puns and sight gags are the order of the day. Judging by the title, it should be fairly obvious that this film is going to lampoon sci-fi, and it does so with a series of cheap sex and bathroom jokes that work sometimes and fail outright at other times. For example, during the credit sequence the narrator is speaking pompously of the solar system; when he mentions red giants and white dwarfs, you can probably guess what the visual is. Overall, this one is not nearly as funny as a Zucker and Abrahams creation, but it does try really hard to be silly, and I sort of admire the constant barrage of attempted humor.
Once again, Leslie Nielsen dishes out another variation on his bumbling character Frank Drebin, only here he is Marshall Dick Dix of the International Security Force. I guess if you're going to copy a character, it's a good idea to copy a funny one. Plenty of Dick Dix jokes here, of course, but Nielsen has graduated to a level of self-mockery in which he can make most of these grade-school jokes work pretty well. I'll admit to being a fan of Nielsen's ability as a deadpan comic actor, even if it is all pretty much the same schtick over and over. What can I say? The guy makes me laugh.
Like most of these cornball comedies, the plot is not overly complex, and borders on being sophomoric. Dix is called in because there are rumors that the President of the United States has been kidnapped by aliens, and replaced by a clone. Sexy Cassandra Menage (Ophelie Winter) is assigned to escort Dix to the planet Vegan and assist him in rescuing the President, as well as catching the bad guys, er, aliens. Vegan is run by the maniacal Dr. Pratt (Peter Egan) and his lusty assistant, who is labeled with the double-entendre moniker Dr. Uschi Kunstler (Alexandra Kamp-Groeneveld).
The jokes and visual gags come in a steady stream, and writer Alan Shearman doesn't seem like the kind of guy to shy away from any attempt at humor, not matter how base. The "R" rating on this one is questionable, as none of the humor seemed any more risque than anything in the Austin Powers series. As for the comedy, does it all work? Not a chance. Does any of it? Sure. A concert featuring the 3 Tenors performing The Village People's In The Navy caught me off guard and elicited a few solid chuckles, as did Dix's hostage rescue during the opening. I'll admit I only laughed out loud a few times during this film, but I did have a few smirks cross my face from time to time. The film is relentless in its desperate attempt to generate laughs, and that's more than I can say for other comedies I've seen. This is a dumb comedy, and it doesn't try to be something it's not.
The closing credits are sprinkled with a couple of good visual gags, and concludes with an audio gallery of noisy fart sounds. What else did you expect?
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: Be warned! Despite a DVD case that states this disc contains "anamorphic video", the only option is a re-formatted 1.33:1 pan & scan transfer. I realize that there won't be too many people petitioning for a widescreen print of 2001: A Space Travesty, and if the truth be known, the hackneyed jokes here play just fine in 1.33:1. As for the transfer itself, it's not so bad; it is full of rich, clean colors, natural fleshtones and even contrast.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: I was truly impressed by the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio transfer on this disc, in part because I was expecting a lackluster mix to compliment the 1.33:1 image transfer. There's plenty of deep bass rumble, and the rear channels get a nice workout with an endless string of effects, voices and music cues. Directional imaging is very pronounced, with a real spatial feel to movement across the front speakers, which when combined with the active rears creates a surprisingly full soundstage. Dialogue is cleanly mixed and very clear.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Joe Dirt, The Animal, Just Looking
Extras Review: Three tired trailers (Joe Dirt, The Animal, Just Looking) are all that's here.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsI thought this film would be awful, and it wasn't. This is the kind of low-brow comedy that alternates between falling flat and occasionally generating a few laughs. Nielsen is funny and gives a Drebin-worthy performance.
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