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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Caddyshack



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

Ken_McAlinden

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  • Real Name:Kenneth McAlinden
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Posted June 08 2010 - 03:41 AM


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Caddyshack

Directed By: Harold Ramis

Starring: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O'Keefe, Bill Murray, Sarah Holcomb, Scott Colomby, Cindy Morgan

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 1980

Rated: R

Film Length: 94 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish (Castellano), Spanish (Latin), Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, and Swedish

Release Date: June 8, 2010

The Film ****

Caddyshack follows the travails of underachieving country club caddy Danny Noonan (O'Keefe) as he pursues a college scholarship that requires him to ingratiate himself to the snobbish Judge Smails (Knight). The country club proves to be an anarchic comic environment populated by eccentric characters like zen-golfer Ty Webb (Chase), garish noveau riche real estate millionaire Al Czervick (Dangerfield), unhinged gopher-hunting groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Murray), rival caddy Tony D'Annunzio (Colomby) and Smail's promiscuous niece Lacey Underall (Morgan).

Caddyshack was originally conceived as a coming of age story focusing on the caddies at a country club, and while a whisp of that plot still remains via the throughline of Danny Noonan's story, the film evolved during production into a Marx Brothers-style mish-mash of eccentric characters and schtick. The film was critically lambasted and modestly successful upon its initial release, pulling in a bit less in box office receipts than the even more anarchic "Airplane" released only three weeks earlier. It has subsequently grown in reputation to the point that it is now regarded as a classic in the "slobs versus snobs" anti-authority comedy genre that flourished in the late seventies/early eighties. Modern golfers would be hard pressed to get through eighteen holes on any public or private course without encountering at least one reference to this film (most likley Murray's "Cinderella story" self-narration, Murray's "Dalai Lama" story, or Chase's "wha-na-na-na" self-provided sound effects while putting).


It is also significant as the cinematic debut of stand-up comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield. The film is assembled essentially as a vehicle for Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray to work their comic schtick, and all three actually live up to the indulgences afforded them by co-writer/director Harold Ramis. While attempts to apply structure through Danny's story and the ongoing feud between Murray's groundskeeper and a pesky gopher are partially successful, the glue that really holds the film together is actor Ted Knight in the role of Judge Smails. Knight takes the "Ted Baxter" persona honed to perfection through seven seasons on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and broadens it into one of the most enjoyably hateable snobs in the history of cinema. One simply never tires of seeing him get angered and frustrated, which effectively gives the rest of the cast license for almost any amount of vulgarity and raunch. As long as it serves to deflate Smails' enormous ego and snobbish aspirations, it never feels gratuitous.

The Video ****

Video is presented via a 1080p VC-1 encoding approximating the film's original aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. Select shots betray some softness and instability in the film elements, but the majority of the presentation is very satisfying with excellent detail, stable deeply saturated colors, natural looking grain levels, and few signs of film damage.

The Audio ***

The 5.1 mix created for the 1999 DVD is presented here with a lossless DTS-HD MA encoding. As with the earlier release the surround mix can be a bit fatiguing due to the extremely high levels of music relative to the dialog and sound effects. No original mono track is included, but the distracting dynamics do not seem to be an issue in the mono dubs provided in Dolby Diital 1.0 French, German, Spanish (Castellano), and Spanish (Latin) tracks.

The Extras ***½

The Blu-Ray special features are gathered under two categories in the disc menu. They are all presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and VC-1 encoded video formatted as indicated below:


Under the heading of Behind the Story are the following two features:

BIO Documentary: Caddyshack: The Inside Story (1080 high-definition video - 1:20:52 Minutes) - is a 2009 documentary from the folks at A&E who produce the Biography series (and spin-off extended cable network). Its feature length and variety of participants make it as comprehensive a telling of the making of the film as anyone has assembled to date. It has certain "made for TV" characteristics that play a bit strangely at times including sensationalistic voiceovers from an unseen narrator and some bits that feel like the filmmakers are teasing content to appear after non-existent commercial breaks. The tone is generally light and nostalgic, with many of the interviewed actors doing things like repeating signature lines from the film. The lack of direct participation from Bill Murray and any participatioin from Chevy Chase keeps it from being as definitive as it could have been, but the producers have assembled an impressive array of particpants from the film's cast and crew. They go so deep into the casting bench that they even include a few comments from the non-actor who played the line-less "Wang". On-camera interview participants include Michael O'Keefe ("Danny Noonan"), Scott Colomby ("Tony D'Annunzio"), Co-Writer/Director Harold Ramis, Executive in Charge of Production Mark Canton, Cindy Morgan ("Lacey Underall"), John Barmon ("Spaulding"), "Caddy" and Production Assistant John Murray, Hamilton Mitchell ("Motormouth"), Golf Commentator David Feherty, Executive Producer John Peters, Mark Chiriboga ("Terry the Hippie"), Executive in Charge of Production Rusty Lemorande, Ann Ryerson ("Grace"), Peter Berkrot ("Angie D'Annunzio"), Singer/Songwriter Kenny Loggins, Former Studio Executive Mike Medavoy, Associate Producer Don McDonald, Assistant to Harold Ramis Trevor Albert, Casting Director Wallis Nicita, Dr. Dow ("Mr. Wang"), Editor William Carruth, Mike Sereg ("Extra"), Marcus Breece ("Lifeguard"), Minerva Scelza ("Joey D'Annunzio"), Special Effects Supervisor John Dykstra, Puppet Maker Joe Garlington, Doug Kenney Biographer Josh Karp, and Original Music Compoaser Johnny Mandel. Additional comments from Bill Murray appear courtesy of clips from archival interviews.

Caddyshack: The 19th Hole (4:3 standard definition video - 31:01) - is the 1999 documentary that appeared on the previous HD-DVD and DVD Special Edition of Caddyshack. There is considerable overlap with ...The Inside Story retrospective documentary, including some of the same cast and crew anecdotes, but there are two unique aspects to this one that make its inclusion welcome. The first is the active partcipation of Chevy Chase in the on-camera interviews about the film. The second is the inclusion of a number of outtakes from the film. All of the outtakes are interesting, but the best is a single long take master shot of the scene between Chevy Chase and Bill Murray where Ty is "playing through" Carl's residence. On-camera interview comments are provided from Chevy Chase ("Ty Webb"), Morgan, Ramis, Ryerson, Peters, Colomby, Mitchell, and Canton.


Under the misleadingly pluralized heading of Trailers is the film's Theatrical Trailer (16:9 standard definition video - 2:34). The trailer is noteworthy for including a handfull of shots that did not make it into the finished film. This is also a carryover from the previous HD-DVD and 1999 DVD Special Edition releases of the film.

Packaging

The disc is enclosed in a standard Blu-ray case with no inserts.

Summary ****

Cult classic comedy Caddyshack, Harold Ramis's anarchic directorial debut, is presented on Blu-ray with a very good video presentation limited only by its source element and a lossless surround re-mix that can be fatiguing due to a wide disparity between the levels of dialog, sound effects, and blaringly loud music. A documentary featurette and trailer are carried over from the previous HD DVD and special edition DVD, and a newly produced feature length documentary from the A&E Biography folks is a welcome addition.


Regards,

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Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA





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