Mad About Mambo

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy None
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 1999
Running Time 88:36
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director John Forte
Universal.gif (3614 bytes)
Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Starring William Ash
Keri Russell
Brian Cox
Theo Fraser Steele
Julian Littman
Maclean Stewart
Case Transparent Soft Brackley
RPI $36.95 Music Richard Hartley
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    One recent unpleasantry that has become a fact of reviewing here at Michael D's is that if a title sits around idly with no willing reviewers to claim it, it will go into a pile where it will be bundled with a much more desirable title. The Omen and its sequels are one such highly desirable title for review, so I got to be the poor sucker who reviews Mad About Mambo, much to my absolute horror.

    Mad About Mambo is the unfortunate result of a mass-marketing media which mistakes crappy rap or techno programmings (the word music doesn't apply) from the likes of Ricky Martin et al for being "the Latin sound". If you really need to understand how utterly ridiculous this idea is, take a good look at the El Mariachi/Desperado DVD and the music featured therein. Considering the culture and economic state of the Latin America region, I certainly know which films and their music come closer to being what they claim.

    Anyway, the film begins with a group of Catholic high schoolers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, playing a game of football (real football, I mean). To put things rather nicely, they are completely crap at it, with their striker, Danny Mitchell (William Ash), aspiring to be a great football player and getting signed to play for Belfast United. His ability to kick goals, or rather the lack thereof, sort of precludes him from fulfilling that dream at the moment, so when he watches a news report about Belfast's signing of Brazilian striker Carlos Rega (Daniel Caltagirone), he suddenly gets a great idea. Carlos is quoted in the news as saying that he comes from a nation where people learn to Samba before they learn to walk, and that they don't merely kick the ball around, they dance with it. So Danny gets the idea into his head to learn how to dance Brazilian-style, borrowing an instructional video and roping goalkeeper Mickey (Maclean Stewart) into helping. After practising as much as he can on his own, Danny eventually tells Spike (Joe Rea) that he thinks he needs professional help, a sentiment that Spike and everyone in the audience heartily agree with.

    Danny enters a Latin American-style dancing school where there's a big shortage of males, as there would be in a place like Belfast, with Oliver (Theo Fraser Steele) being the only other young man from the area to show any interest. Of course, Oliver is only participating for the benefit of Lucy McLoughlin (Keri Russell), a young woman who is determined to win the regional Latin dance finals to the exclusion of all else. Oliver and Danny arrange for a friendly match between the two schools they represent, with results that I'm sure seemed hilarious to the director or the writer at some point. Of course, Danny has got the hots big-time for Lucy, and will do anything he can to impress her, so it becomes another example of the same old story with a new set of props and actors.

    Don't let the six-point-nine out of ten rating from twenty-seven IMDB users on this title fool you: this title is currently only available on the Very Hazy System in America, and there it should probably stay. The leads are as ugly as I am, which is saying quite a lot, and the casting of Keri Russell as an Irish Protestant woman is probably the only thing about this film that will give you genuine belly laughs.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer is excellent, with plenty of fine detail and subtle nuances on offer for the detail junkies out there. The shadow detail is only really called for in the last five minutes of the film, but it is excellent all the same, with plenty of subtle details on offer in the dark. There is no low-level noise to mar the picture.

    The colours have a somewhat dull and earthy look, which is probably a deliberate choice on the part of the filmmakers, and an excellent one at that when one considers the setting. The balance of colours sits somewhere between a dull green and a harsh red, where emphasis is concerned. There were no problems with bleeding or misregistration at any time.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing in car chrome and other such fine lines, although it was generally tolerable due to it being inconspicuous. Film artefacts littered the opening credits, with numerous nicks, spots, and scratches seen in this part of the film, but once the action got underway, they settled down to a more acceptable level.


    There are two soundtracks on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second, and a Spanish dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. Because I didn't want to torture myself with this film any more than was necessary, I stuck with the English dialogue.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, and you needn't worry about any of the Irish accents here because they range from being quite mild to completely and utterly fake. There were no discernible problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film is credited to one Richard Hartley, although numerous alterations of contemporary numbers by the likes of The Spice Girls (I'd use another name for them that signifies their true level of musical talent, but it'd most likely get censored out, anyway) make an appearance, too.

    The surround channels were used in a satisfactory manner to provide an immersive sound during the numerous football matches and some of the dance sequences, but for the most part, the mix was quite frontal in nature. This is as much the fault of the film itself as the people who put this soundtrack together, as the sound effects in most scenes would sound decidedly strange, panning from the front to the rear. The subwoofer was used to support the music and some of the sound effects in the football matches, but it was only used in a very gentle fashion. Your 5.1 system won't get much of a workout from this disc.


    In something of a rarity for recent Columbia Tristar releases, there are no extras on this disc. I really feel grateful for that.


    There is a menu, it is pretty simple to navigate, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.


    Close your eyes for just a little moment and imagine the OFLC sitting through this film without needing some booze or drugs to keep them awake, then finding something objectionable in it. Then count to ten and imagine something more likely to happen, such as a house falling out of the sky and landing on Keri Russell.

R4 vs R1

    Luckily for them, it appears that Region 1 miss out on this title.


    Mad About Mambo was so bad that I needed to take two breaks during its running length to wash my ears out with some real music. I knew I had bought those CDs of The Cure for a reason. The acting, the story, and the general pacing are not much better.

    The video transfer is good.

    The audio transfer is good.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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 © Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
May 9, 2001
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer