HTF REVIEW: "Life Stinks" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 15, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Life Stinks

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1991
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    and Full Frame (1.33:1) transfers.
    Subtitles: English, French and Spanish

    Goddard Bolt is a stinkin' rich billionaire who
    makes his money in real estate at the expense of
    helpless people he could care nothing about. In
    fact, his latest plan is to develop a plot of land
    he owns in downtown Los Angeles -- an absolute
    slum area filled with homeless people that would
    be driven out. Bolt's only obstacle in claiming
    the property is Vance Crasswell (Jeffrey Tambor),
    a sleazy competitor who owns half the property that
    Bolt wants to obtain.
    So begins the bet. Vance proposes that if Bolt
    was stripped of his riches and can survive in the
    streets for 30 days, he would hand over his share
    of the property. Bolt takes the bet and is dumped
    on the streets where he soon befriends three
    desolate bums, Molly (Lesley Ann Warren), Sailor
    (Howard Morris) and Fumes (Teddy Wislon). These
    three homeless people manage to teach Bolt some
    valuable lessons about life and love.
    While the concept of this film must have looked
    great on paper, one can't help but miss the days
    when Mel Brooks was considered the absolute king
    of comedy. You would think that as writer, producer
    and director of this film, Mel would set himself
    insanely loose. Instead, it seems that the funnyman
    is intent on turning a more serious cheek, and for
    that, his fans will be most disappointed.
    How is the transfer?
    Picture quality is above average. The print is
    in great condition showing no wear or tear
    whatsoever. There is slight evidence of negligible
    background noise. The only problems I see in the
    transfer is that it tends to look muddy and slightly
    unfocused in some of the street scenes. Colors are
    also slightly muted giving the film a dated look.
    Flesh tones also tend to run very red giving
    characters a sunburned appearance.
    Sound is very clear and bright. The Dolby Surround
    track really helps the ambience of this film. Since
    most all of it takes place out in the streets, the
    rears are constantly providing the sounds of city
    life. Dialogue rests mainly in the center channel,
    bleeding slightly to the fronts. I didn't notice
    any LFE activity here.
    Special Features
    MGM has released Life Stinks in both
    Widescreen and Full Frame versions which can be
    selected off of the main menu.
    It's a shame that MGM just released The Producers
    and Brooks chose this film to do a full-length
    commentary for. Joining Brooks are writers
    Rudy De Luca and Steve Haberman. The great thing
    about getting comedy writers together in one room
    is that they all have a great time together, throwing
    jokes off of one another. This is no exception.
    This commentary is little more than a bunch of guys
    laughing at each other's screen antics and some of
    the veteran actors they worked with. Perhaps it's a
    good thing that this commentary never gets technical,
    though it would have been better if there weren't as
    many long gaps of complete silence. These guys fondly
    recall what it was like to film on location amidst
    the smell of urine and car fumes. We learn that it
    was a tough job to cast the female lead for this
    film, and Mel was very proud of the fact that they
    finally found Lesley Ann Warren. I was surprised
    that Brooks never really addressed the issues of
    playing a homeless person -- especially since this
    film has such a strong message about them. To be
    honest, Mel's time would have been better spent
    doing a commentary for The Producers
    Could this be? A brand-new featurette? You betcha!
    Does Life Really Stink? brings together Brooks,
    De Luca and Haberman as they talk about how this film
    came about. Brooks felt that this film represents
    his best work as it addresses a very serious social
    issue in our society. He felt that he could make
    this film into a successful comedy while getting out
    an important message in the process. The three
    writers humorously talk about what it was like to
    get into a room together, yelling and screaming, in
    an effort to throw around ideas and write a script.
    We learn that there were many veteran actors who
    came out to the casting calls, and the writers found
    it very difficult to narrow down their choices for
    the few parts that were available. Being a writer
    himself, Brooks was very receptive to the fact that
    his writing staff was always on the set -- ready to
    fix any dialogue or joke that did not work.
    (length: approx. 14 minutes)
    The film's original theatrical trailer is
    included here as well as the promotional trailer
    for The Producers Special Edition DVD release.
    Final Thoughts
    I'll give credit to Mel Brooks for pulling away
    from his normal insanity and trying something a
    little more subtle. Unfortunately, the film has
    very few laughs and struggles to remain even
    entertaining by its third act. If you are a
    die-hard fan of the Mel Brooks it won't hurt to
    check this film out. It would certainly be an
    opportunity to see the "kinder and gentler" Brooks
    in action.
    Release Date: February 18, 2003
    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

    Oct 23, 1999
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    Kudos to MGM for another catalogue title with some nice features. They are fast becoming my favorite studio. At least they price them right!
  3. Ron_Lamb

    Ron_Lamb Auditioning

    Dec 25, 2002
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    Thanks for the review Ron, i will add this one to my collection instead of the recent disney offerings.

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