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Blu-ray Reviews

Billy Madison Blu-ray



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#1 of 1 Kevin EK

Kevin EK

    Screenwriter

  • 2,707 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2003

Posted June 03 2011 - 01:39 AM

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Billy Madison


Studio: Universal

Year: 1995

Length:  1 hr 30 mins

Genre: Comedy/Adam Sandler


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


BD Resolution: 1080p

BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 25 mbps)

Color/B&W: Color


Audio:

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 2.1 mbps, oscillating up to 4 mbps)

French DTS 5.1 Surround


Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French



Film Rating: PG-13 (Language, Crude Humor, Adam Sandler)


Release Date: June 7, 2011


Starring:  Adam Sandler, Bradley Whitford, Josh Mostel, Bridgette Wilson, Norm MacDonald, Darren McGavin and Chris Farley

Written by:  Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler

Directed by: Tamra Davis


Film Rating:    2/5


Billy Madison is the first real hit scored by Adam Sandler on the big screen after his exit from “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-90s.  It’s typical of his work over that decade, in that there’s an interesting attention to music details, as well as some intermittently funny material, but the overall emphasis is on the lowest common denominator.  Many scenes go for the crudest joke or the simplest and silliest approach.  In several cases, scenes are driven by Sandler’s established use of a high-pitched sing-song voice that can be hilarious to his fans and aggravating to everyone else.   And of course, there’s the big inset musical number that feels like it came right out of Sandler’s “Opera Man” routine from SNL.


The story of Billy Madison is fairly simple.    Adam Sandler plays the title character, who is tasked by his father (Darren McGavin) with proving his ability to run the family hotel business upon the father’s retirement.  To do this, Madison must go back to grade school, starting with 1st grade, and pass each grade within two weeks, on his own.  To be fair, this can be fertile ground for comedy, and the movie finds some of these moments here and there.  One good notion is a family of bullies who share the same last name and the same red hair, and who Madison encounters every few grades.   Of course, after the movie gets through the elementary grades, Sandler finds a shortcut, caling for an “academic decathlon” between Madison and his chief competitor for the family business – and this also provides some good comic material, particularly a response by the scorer after Madison has blown an opportunity to discuss the industrial revolution.  (The best line of the dismissal of Madison’s incoherent speech is “…and we are all the dumber for having heard it…”)


Billy Madison has previously been released on standard definition DVD and HD-DVD, and the new Blu-ray is a port of the prior releases.  The extras from the earlier SD DVD have been carried over here, including a director’s commentary, some deleted scenes and an outtake reel.  And the picture transfer from the HD-DVD has apparently been carried over.  The only new idea here, other than the usual Blu-ray functionality, is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix, which really doesn’t have a lot to do other than play the dialogue and most sound effects in the front channels, and put the music in the surrounds.  Fans of Adam Sandler will probably want to add this to their collection if they haven’t already done so with the earlier DVD release.  More casual fans may want to be a little more cautious – if you have seen some Adam Sandler comedies and have enjoyed them, this is certainly worth a rental.   

                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   3/5

Billy Madison is presented in a 1080p VC-1 1.85:1 transfer that presents a wide range of colors and environments within a healthy amount of grain.  I believe this is the same HD transfer used for the HD-DVD a few years ago.  The only anomaly I noticed was in a late poolside shot where Bridgette Wilson approaches a passed-out Sandler, where I believe I saw some kind of digital shimmer, as she moved past a body wearing an intricately patterned shirt .   I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.



AUDIO QUALITY   3/5

Billy Madison is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix in English, along with a standard DTS 5.1 mix in French.   As I noted before, the mix is fine, but there really isn’t a lot of substance here.  The dialogue and pretty much all of the atmospheric effects are confined to the front channels, while the rear channels are primarily used for music.


SPECIAL FEATURES      2 ½/5 

The Blu-Ray presentation of Billy Madison comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality.  The disc carries over the previously available extras from the DVD and HD-DVD, including a director’s commentary, some deleted scenes and an outtake reel.


Commentary with Director Tamra Davis –  Tamra Davis’ 2005 scene-specific commentary is preserved here.  It’s intermittently effective, much like the film.  Davis offers some interesting comments here and there about working with Sandler on the movie and shooting in Toronto, but she also goes silent for stretches while she watches the movie, and she tends to repeat herself when she describes general ideas of filmmaking.


Deleted Scenes – (6 Scenes, 32:55 Total, 480p,, Non-Anamorphic – Six deleted scenes (and fragments) are presented here in non-anamorphic standard definition.  There’s nothing crucial here that I could see.  The scenes can be accessed on their own or via a “Play All” function.  If you use that function, you can still skip through via chapters.


Outtakes – (3:43, 480p, Non-Anamorphic)  - A standard definition outtake reel is presented here, mostly showing Adam Sandler or Darren McGavin blowing a line or breaking up.


BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


The usual promotional ticker is present on the main menu, but can be toggled off at your discretion. The film and the special features are subtitled in English, Spanish and French.  A generous chapter menu is provided.



IN THE END...

Billy Madison is a good Blu-ray for Adam Sandler fans, but it may be a more challenging experience for other viewers.  The Blu-ray carries over the picture transfer from the prior HD-DVD and the extras from the earlier DVD.   Adam Sandler fans will probably want to pick this up.  Others may wish to rent it.


Kevin Koster

June 2, 2011.