Jeff Dunham’s Achmed Saves America features the comedian’s controversial ventriloquism puppet, a dead failed terrorist, in his first animated comedy special. Serving as a backstory to the character of Achmed, the terrorist is hurled to Americaville, hoping to continue his quest to destroy the USA, but thanks to the family that takes him in, ends up falling in love with the country.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 1 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayEco keepcase
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 03/18/2014
After getting killed during a failed terrorist bombing, Achmed finds himself in Americaville, USA, only to be run over by the Wilson family’s SUV. Mistaken as the French exchange student Claude they were supposed to pick up at the airport, the Wilson’s bring Achmed to their home. As he settles in, Achmed builds a bomb in hopes of leveling the town of Americaville (a depressed, fictional suburb of Detroit) during their Centennial celebration. When the town switches gears and dedicates the celebration to their newfound immigrant, Achmed tries to stop the detonation of his bomb, with disastrous results ending with his true identity being unveiled.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Taking a short stand-up routine involving a puppet and trying to translate it to a longer-form story can be a challenge, and for the most part writer Michael Price (The Simpsons, Lego Star Wars) and director Frank Marino (Futurama) succeed more often than they fail. Much of that success can be attributed to propping up Achmed (voiced by Jeff Dunham) with other characters, such as patriarch Wayne Wilson (Tom Kenny),
his wife Ginny (Susan Egan, daughter Cassidy (Amanda Troop), and ventriloquist-in-training son Kevin (Chiara Zanni). The animation style is similar to that of Family Guy or Bob’s Burgers, emulating more traditional hand-drawn television animation, and the animators at Bento Box manage to give brief cameos to many of Jeff Dunham’s characters, including Walter, Bubba J, Melvin, and even Peanut. Homages are also given to Chuck Jones (the special begins much like a Roadrunner cartoon), Tex Avery, and even Hanna-Barbera. While some of the humor could be considered offensive or in bad taste, it never goes goes over the top into vulgarity. The end result is an amusing 60 minute distraction.
Achmed Saves America is presented on Blu-ray in a 1080/24p transfer that retains the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and was compressed using the AVC codec. While the live action intro by Jeff Dunham and Achmed is somewhat soft, detail improves dramatically once it switches to full animation. Also, colors start off somewhat muted, but as Achmed makes his trip to Americaville, colors become more robust, allowing the characters to pop. This is a very clean transfer (as it should, since it was created entirely within the digital realm), with virtually no compression artifacts.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Two soundtracks are provided, a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 (at 224 kbps). Unfortunately, the 5.1 mix defaults to what many refer to as “comedy mode,” providing nice dialogue and sound effects panning within the front soundstage, but very little surround or LFE activity. Dialogue remains clear throughout.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
Audio Commentary with Jeff Dunham and Friends: Dunham is accompanied with character designer Kelly Asbury and writer Michael Price. The three have a good time discussing the process of making an animated special, and occasionally name drop celebrities they have worked with on other projects. This is a fun commentary.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
The Making of Achmed Saves America (1080i; 4:52): This is a very disappointing featurette, mostly due to the description listed on the back cover, which states that it includes a tour of the animation studio, original script reading, and voiceover sessions. While that is all true, host Dunham whisks us through all this material, plus clips from his other specials, in just under five minutes.
Achmed Saves America may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does have some nice comedic moments. The documentary could have been much longer, with the description on the back cover leading to disappointment for most.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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