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Buy from Amazon.com

Shout Factory presents
Home Movies: Season Two (2002)

"Brendon, we need to do a different movie. I mean, the romantic comedy is dead. Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts KILLED IT!"
- Jason (H. Jon Benjamin)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: June 15, 2005

Stars: Brendon Small, Janine Ditullio, H. Jon Benjamin, Melissa Bardin Galsky
Other Stars: Louis Szekely, Laura Silverman, Bill Braudis, Ron Lynch, Emo Phillips, Andy Kindler, Jennifer Kirkman, Jonathan Katz, Paula Plum, Sam Seder, Valerie Kappa, Louis C.K., Kelly Kimball
Director: Loren Bouchard

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some sexual references, cartoon violence)
Run Time: 04h:50m:19s
Release Date: May 31, 2005
UPC: 826663420999
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ AB+B- B

DVD Review

Things are different the second time around when show creator Brendon Small's pet project returns as Home Movies: Season Two—a quicker, scripted, and squiggle-free follow up to the first season. Some fans of this cult favorite disapproved of its rejection of the original free-flowing, unscripted, and meandering pace in favor of a more tradition animated program. However, I feel safe in asserting that nobody had an averse reaction to the decision to disband the misbegotten SquiggleVision animation that threatened to blind your eyes with its dizzying motions.

The premiere episode, Politics, features young filmmaker Brendon running for student government president as a major underdog. However, with the return of school bully Shannon the opposition is pummeled and a reign of terror and corruption begins as Shannon muscles his way into Brendon's cabinet. The timid Brendon resigns his office out of shame and once again returns to his true love—the cinema! Accompanied by his devoted crew/cast/friends/schoolmates, Melissa and Jason, Brendon reaches new heights as a director while his personal life falls to pieces.

One of the most amazing things about this second season is how the show manages to continue its trademark offbeat humor, filled with awkward pauses and non sequiturs, while becoming more mainstream. There's a greater sense of story arc involved now as Brendon's estranged father returns midway through the season. His father is a successful lawyer and engaged to marry the irritatingly superficial Linda. The writing aptly observes how awkward such a situation is for a child, as the young Brendon visits the zoo repeatedly in Dad because his father is unable to think of any other places to visit. Things are only complicated by Brendon's mother, Paula, who is fired from her job as a teacher and jealous of her ex-husband's success. However, the lives of these characters carry on as Brendon suffers severe stress (culminating in a hideous rash in The Wedding), the family visits an airhead therapist in Therapy, and the kids' soccer coach, the lovably alcoholic, soccer-hating Jon McGuirk, continues his nose-dive of a life.

Home Movies: Season Two features an episode initially hated by viewers, History, but now considered to be among the best in the show's entire run. After suffering a disastrous failure earlier in the season, Brendon and crew undertake a self-imposed break from filmmaking in Hiatus. The break is short lived and eventually Star Boy (and The Captain of Outer Space) premieres to great success. The production values are clearly beyond the scope of what an eight-year-old could afford, but that's part of its charm (besides, the script "justifies" these extravagant movies by having Brendon's grades suffer due to his directing duties).

At times the costumes, sets, and special effects in Brendon's movies are so impressive that I could imagine the show's animators being envious of them. Even though there are many more camera movesthis season and the characters are actually able to walk across screen now (something undreamed of during the first season), this is clearly a low-budget program. The characters still wear those skintight jump suits (at least that's what I think they are) and have some of the crudest facial designs in television history, but would you want it any other way? This is not your average show, as evident by its oddball characters who live dysfunctional lives in suburban America, and the animation is reflective of this.

Plus, the animation really is secondary. The characters are primary here and the second season offers some new faces. Fans will be happy to see the creation of school chums Walter and Perry's bizarrely perverse relationship, which provides an unsettlingly comical moment where the two get engaged in The Wedding. Some other supporting characters make appearances, including Melissa's dad Eric in Business & Pleasure, plus Ken Addleburg (whose son became a major character in subsequent seasons) is introduced as one of Paula's students. There's also the debut of Fenton Muley in The Party, when Brendon tries to make a film of Fenton's birthday party but the project is a failure due to Fenton's jerky behavior. Not only that, Brendon once again learns about the hardships of love when he falls for the attractive, stuck-up Cynthia, a recurring character that he takes to Jason's country club.

However, it is the leading characters that make this show work. Paula's sexual frustrations and desperation for a job, causing her to cheat on a typing test in Impressions, ring true as a depiction of a single mom struggling to provide for her children. Jason's silly antics deliver many laughs, especially when he thinks Brendon is turning into a werewolf. Melissa continues to provide the voice of reason as tempers flare on the set, but gets caught up in the backstabbing of the film industry when she vies for a leading role in Business & Pleasure. And even though much of this season focuses on Brendon's relationship with his father, Coach McGuirk still makes his regular appearances (albeit less predominantly than before, much to my chagrin). Watching his misguided attempts at dating beautiful women from high school, even asking out a married former classmate in Impressions, Coach McGuirk is a gold mine of comedy. One of the best episodes of the entire season is Pizza Club, where Brendon's spending so much extra time with his father hurts McGuirk's feelings.

Of course, I'm slightly biased about Home Movies. The redheaded, amateur filmmaker Brendon is practically a mirror image of myself (well, okay, his abnormally elongated nose isn't like mine). I can't remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did when Brendon accompanies Coach McGuirk to the morgue in Identifying a Body. There aren't any jokes per se, but the absurdity of the situation and the character reactions to it are golden. The writing offers Brendon room to grow as a character—with tender moments such as, after identifying McGuirk's uncle, Brendon and his coach discuss life—but never loses sight of his childhood innocence. Brendon is the anchor of the show and without him coming off as a real person, the whole premise of the series would fall into irrelevance. Fortunately, the writing is brilliant and the series stirs up genuine emotions in the viewer as well as a fountain of laughs.

Thank goodness for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim because they not only saved the show from its incomplete first season, but also brought it back for this second season. Home Movies is still an acquired taste that most television viewers may find too offbeat, but this sophomore effort gives the fans many memorable moments and new characters.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Although the animation is not groundbreaking or even technically very good, the transfer accurately presents its colors and depth (or, more accurately, lack of depth). I spotted a couple of instances of edge enhancement, but it's very minor and may even pass unnoticed. Otherwise, this is a clean image and should be commended.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix is fairly tame, even when played in ProLogic. I failed to notice any sound separation or directionality, though when played in ProLogic the music does occupy the rear channels (very faintly, however). The dialogue is audible and clean, which is the most important thing here, but it would be nice to have a more dynamic mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
3 Featurette(s)
8 Feature/Episode commentaries by Loren Bouchard, Melissa Galsky, Brendon Small, Show animators
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Winner of "Small Shorts" Film Competition—the first place short film, Moby Dick: A Whale's Tale in 2 Minutes, selected by Brendon Small as best representing the style/theme of the show.
  2. Animatics—the initial animatics of selected episodes, with one animator's commentary on History.
  3. Brendon Small Interviews Melissa Galsky—a tongue-in-cheek interview between the two stars of the show about the second season and its characters.
  4. Interview with Loren Bouchard, Melissa Galsky, and Brendon Small—the three creative talents behind the show discuss the changes made in the second season from the first.
  5. Home Movies Music Treats—audio recordings of some songs featured in the episodes.
Extras Review: The first season's DVD featured a extensive special features, but they were dismal. I am glad to say that this season is a significant improvement over the past DVD because the participants seem to be far more serious and informative than they were the first time around. The packaging of the three discs is nice, with each being in a slim case that features a poster of one of Brendon's movies on the inside cover. Additionally, the outer slipcase is a nice tribute to Space Boy.

In terms of the supplemental material, there are audio commentaries by director/co-creator Loren Bouchard, actress/producer Melissa Galsky, and actor/writer/co-creator Brendon Small on Identifying a Body, Hiatus, The Party, Therapy, History, Pizza Club, and The Wedding. Each person's comments are directed to one of the three speakers in the front sound stage. Comments range from jokes about the low-budget animation to changes made in the second season to ideas behind the show's themes. The three people stay on task for the most part and give good information, especially Small who clearly is itching to do more shows if he gets the opportunity.

There are also animatics for Politics, The Party, and History. Anybody familiar with animatics will know what to expect here, since it's just an unfinished presentation of the episode's artwork. History contains a commentary on its animatic by multiple animators, though they fail to adequately introduce themselves and spend more time making in jokes for their own benefit than actually discussing their work. This is a regression back to the unsatisfactory extras of the first DVD, but thankfully it is the only example of said backtracking.

On the first disc, you will find the winner of the "Small Shorts" Film Competition (in the interest of full disclosure, I too entered this competition). The winning entry, Moby Dick: A Whale's Tale in 2 Minutes (02m:00s—oddly enough!), is a decent attempt at replicating the kinds of movies Brendon makes on the show. I didn't laugh during it, but I can understand why Brendon Small would have selected this contender for the grand prize because it does evoke the feel of the show. Also on Disc 1 is the featurette, Memories: Guest Stars Remember Home Movies (10m:42s). Containing a montage of jokes and sincere comments by practically every guest star in the show's history, this extra provides some good laughs but doesn't offer a great deal of insight into the show. I'm sure that's its intention, so it succeeds at doing what it set out to do. Finally, on the first disc, is Brendon Small Interviews Melissa Galsky (11m:18s). It's difficult to tell when the two actors are joking from when they are being serious, but they give enough information to make this extra worthwhile. I especially liked the portion that focuses on the character of Melissa in relation to the show.

Over on the second disc there is Audio Anatomy of an Audio Scene (09m:14s) in which director Loren Bouchard goes through the process of how the audio track is created. Three different line readings of a scene from The Wedding are played and then the process mixing the readings is shown. The featurette concludes with the final audio from the episode and this is my favorite extra of the set. There also is an Interview with Loren Bouchard, Melissa Galsky, and Brendon Small (14m:04s) that talks about the transition from SquiggleVision to Flash animation, as well as the concepts explored in the second season's stories. Some of this is a repeat of material from the commentaries, but it's a pithy bit of information.

On the third disc, the supplemental features continue with Home Movies Music Treates. First, Brendon Small hosts Play the Home Movies Theme in One Easy Lesson (03m:20s) and gives a brief explanation of the keys used to play the theme on the piano and guitar. Following that is the Sunset Theme (02m:04s) from the show, which plays over a still drawing of Brendon, Melissa, and Jason looking at a sunset. The last musical treat is the song Star Boy and the Captain of Outer Space (00m:50s). If you are a fan of the music used in the show, these will be worth a listen. Rounding out the extras is the featurette Home Movies Writer Bill Braudis Speaks! (04m:05s). Braudis talks about the process he and Brendon Small used to go through when writing the show, giving their daily routines of walking through cemeteries and eating in diners, as well as saying what a joy it was to do the show. Considering how good the scripts were, it's nice to know that they were a joy to write.

The special features on this set are leaps and bounds above the previous DVD, which makes them a nice surprise.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

The cult favorite Home Movies makes a welcome return to DVD as Shout! Factory does an excellent job with this second season release. The image and audio transfers are on a par with the first season, but the extras are a vast improvement. Very nice work!

 


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