DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Stella Street

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Aaron Silverman, Jan 21, 2005.

  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Jan 22, 1999
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    Aaron Silverman

    Stella Street[​IMG]

    US Theatrical Release: October 22, 2004 (Columbia - TriStar)
    US DVD Release: January 18, 2005
    Running Time: 1:22:46 (24 chapter stops)
    Rating: R (Language And Some Drug Material)
    Video: 2.35:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.77:1 anamorphic, with the exception of some of the trailers, which are 1.33:1)
    Audio: English DD5.1 (Extra features: English DD2.0)
    Subtitles: English (Extra Features: None)
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
    Menus: Animated and skippable.
    Packaging: Standard keepcase; single-sheet insert contains cover images from other titles on both sides.
    MSRP: $24.96


    I've always been a fan of British humor. Benny Hill, Monty Python, Rowan Atkinson and Ricky Gervais have all cracked me up. Still, I can't help but feel that maybe I'm missing something here. Stella Street is the product of a group of British comedians who weave a story around a bunch of celebrity impressions and strange characters. Their impressions are generally pretty good, notably Michael Caine, David Bowie, Madonna, and Mick Jagger (on the other hand, some of them, especially Joe Pesci, are a dark stain on the face of celebrity impersonations). Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to give the characters funny things to say and do.

    Phil Cornwell, John Sessions, and Ronni Ancona play nearly all the parts in the film, which begins with a home-movie flashback to the 1960s. Various celebrities, including Michael Caine and The Beatles, come to reside on quiet, suburban Stella Street, which is also populated by a bizarre collection of anonymous weirdos. In the modern day, more celebrities move in to enjoy what they believe will be a quiet lifestyle away from the public eye. The celebrities and their neighbors go about their eccentric lives as the audience waits for jokes. A throwaway plot about the celebs getting scammed out of their fortunes puts in an occasional appearance, but doesn't add a whole lot of entertainment value.

    I laughed twice during the film -- once at the 9:04 mark and once at 1:12:38. Much of the time, the problem wasn't so much that the jokes were lousy as it was that there weren't really many jokes at all. Celebrity impersonators doing strange riffs on everyday activities just isn't enough to carry an 80-minute movie. The amount of material might have made for a couple of good skits on a variety show, but here it just made for an aggravating wait between all-too-rare amusing moments.

    {Edit} Since writing the above, I've discovered that Stella Street actually is a big-screen adaptation of a BBC sketch comedy show. Episodes of the original program ran 10 minutes apiece, and comments on IMDB complain that a lot of the material in the film is lifted directly from them. I am feeling really good about what I wrote. [​IMG]

    THE WAY I SEE IT: 3/5

    This disc features a slightly grainy picture with a varying amount of edge enhancement. Colors are bright and sunny, and black levels are pretty average. The scenes range from bright daylight to dark nighttime party scenes, and the amount of detail in the image varies accordingly. Overall, it looks fine.

    THE WAY I HEAR IT: 2.5/5

    This is more of a 3.1 track than a 5.1 track -- if there was any surround activity, then it was too low for me to detect. Still, the soundtrack consists almost entirely of dialogue, with some incidental music, so it's not a huge issue for this material. The soundtrack features a number of songs written by the filmmakers that I suppose were meant to be funny.

    THE SWAG: 3/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

    Commentary Track:

    Stars and co-writers Phil Cornwell and John Sessions chat informally about the production in a mediocre scene-specific track. This is the only special feature in which they're out of character. There isn't much dead space, but there's a bit too much narration of the on-screen action and not enough insight into the production. They also tend to mumble on occasion, becoming hard to hear over the actual soundtrack. One nice feature of this track is that they explain some of the British pop culture references for the benefit of us foreigners.

    The Making Of Stella Street: (20:21)

    This EPK piece consists mainly of interviews with the cast, and also includes some film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. The interviews are all of Phil Cornwell and John Sessions in character as various "celebrities" from the film. Those who enjoy the film will get a kick out of this.

    Lost Movie Classics: (10:01)

    Phil Cornwell, as "Michael Caine," gets interviewed about an awful film that he made long ago called Bongo In The Congo. The film doesn't really exist, but I'm not sure whether this is spoofing an actual British movie discussion program or not (a Google search only turned up articles on this film).

    Caine's Soho: (7:50)

    Phil Cornwell, as "Michael Caine," takes the viewer on a tour of his old stomping ground, Soho. He relates various stories of his adventures there in the swinging '60s.

    Jimmy Up West: (0:53)

    Phil Cornwell, as "Jimmy Hill," kicks a soccer ball around in a back alley while giving a play-by-play voiceover.

    Len And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance:

    Phil Cornwell, as the astonishingly bizarre and pyromaniacal gardener "Len McMonotoney," shares his opinions on various subjects.
    • Len On Gardening (0:38)
    • Len On Friendship (0:30)
    • Len On Filmmakers (0:30)
    • Len On Movies (0:46)
    • Len On Cameramen (0:14)
    • Len On Love (0:49)
    • Len On Motorcycle Maintenance (0:21)
    • Len On Trust (0:26)
    • Len On Life (0:32)

    Mick And Keith's Corner Store: (2:49)

    This is a music video that features Phil Cornwell and John Sessions, as "Mick Jagger" and "Keith Richards" respectively, singing about the corner store that they run in the film.


    Four trailers are included. Only Stella Street is anamorphic. All have DD2.0 audio. When the disc is first loaded, the trailer for P.S. plays automatically. It may be skipped.
    • Stella Street (2:01)
    • P. S. (2:11)
    • Monty Python And The Holy Grail Special Edition (DVD) (1:26)
    • Silver City (2:29)

    The Way I Feel About It: 1.5/5
    The Way I See It: 3/5
    The Way I Hear It: 2.5/5
    The Swag: 3/5

    A lot of camera tricks and decent celebrity impressions are wasted here on a film that forgot to be funny. It's really a shame, because Stella Street was a clever idea. There may be fans of this material out there, since comedy is a very personal thing (or because the original TV version was better), but in this case, I'd call them the exception that proves the rule. The A/V quality is OK, and the commentary and 45+ minutes of in-character extra features should appeal to people who enjoy the film or the show, but I can't really recommend this one.
  2. DannyS

    DannyS Second Unit

    Jul 9, 2001
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    This isn't Stella Street. It's the TV movie that was made recently, which isn't a patch on the ACTUAL 4 SEASON show that aired on the UK's BBC2 since 1997.

    Try and get hold of them.. they are comedy Gold.

    see here

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