Thunderpants (2002)

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Released 18-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Pete Hewitt (Director), Graham Broadbent (Producer)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Patrick Smash's Video Diary
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Deleted Scenes-8
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Fart Montage
Gallery-Photo
Storyboards
DVD-ROM Extras
Music Video-"Going All The Way" - All Stars Pop Promo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 83:51 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pete Hewitt
Studio
Distributor
Pathe Films
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Simon Callow
Stephen Fry
Celia Imrie
Paul Giamatti
Ned Beatty
Bruce Cook
Rupert Grint
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Rupert Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, additional footage during closing credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'll admit it up front. I was born in the UK... I think (for instance) Ben Elton is a comic genius. I think poo and fart jokes are really funny, when done well. Perhaps Thunderpants is a brave children's movie, which takes a ridiculously crass basic theme and manages to use it as a subtle criticism of bigotry without preaching? Alternatively it could be a funny way to get across the message of self-belief and the struggle against adversity? Unfortunately, whilst it has some redeeming features (the young actors and the occasional glimpse of wit) it is overall a fairly tedious experience, devoid of much real insight or humour.

    Newcomer Bruce Cook plays a young chap with the strange birth defect of having two stomachs "like a cow". This imbues him with a terrible talent - extreme flatulence. The entire film centres around this one joke - farting. Can someone please call a surgeon? I fear my sides may have split...not.

    Cook portrays Patrick Smash, a boy who from the second of his birth is destined to a life of misery. His extreme gaseous output results in his father abandoning him, and his mother resorting to alcoholism. On his first day at school, Patrick is befriended by the young genius Alan A. Allen (Rupert Grint, the redheaded Ron from the Harry Potter films). Luckily, his absent sense of smell allows the two to form a close and everlasting bond of friendship. Soon enough, Alan manages to invent a pair of breeches which can contain Patrick's bottom-burps - the Thunderpants of the title. We watch almost aghast (or is that awake?) as Alan harnesses Patrick's anal altruism to win first place at the local competition for unassisted flight - courtesy of a fart-powered hovercraft named Thunderpants 2.

    Alan is recruited by NASA look-alikes to help them in their ongoing exploration of space. This leaves the lonely young Patrick to set out on a global tour with the second-best tenor in the world, Sir John Osgood (Simon Callow), as it transpires that his diva-esque date can also perfectly recreate an unreachable high-note much in demand by opera audiences. The opera scenes provide one of the few mildly amusing jokes in the film. The burned-in subtitles translate the melodramatic vocals into some rather witty swipes at the overblown nonsense that is opera. Ultimately, Patrick and Alan are reunited as Patrick's unique gift is improbably harnessed to power a rescue mission for a group of stranded astronauts in the imaginatively-named Thunderpants 3.

    The cinematography in this film is immediately reminiscent of Tim Burton (indeed, this is commented on in one of the extras). Think Edward Scissorhands or Batman and you'll get the idea. The overly-heavy use of a green colour palette in the UK-based scenes is initially intriguing, but soon becomes tiresome. When the action switches to the USA, primary colours pop up in abundance and provide some relief from the almost monochromatic feel of the earlier shots. The whole feel of the film is very stylised - everyone in the UK drives a green mini (except the American visitors), consumer products are generically labelled ("Sweets" and "Popcorn") and characters tend to have strange names (Alan A. Allen, Johnson J. Johnson and Placido P. Placeedo) which further add to the overall sense of surrealism in this flick.

    The two young leads put in reasonable performances. Cook deadpans his way through the film like an old hand, which is starkly contrasted by the hugely over-the-top plummy performance of Grint. There are interesting cameos from some familiar faces with Stephen Fry and the wonderful Celia Imrie, joined by old-hands such as the one-dimensional (but still funny) Leslie Howard and American Ned Beatty ("squeal like a pig boy").

    Unfortunately, try as I might to like this film, I could not. While it shows some promise from the young actors, and the script is occasionally mildly amusing, it struggles to maintain your interest despite the short running length. I honestly cannot remember smiling more than a couple of times during this film, and certainly got nowhere close to laughing out loud. Thunderpants may appeal to some children.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is adequate, but fairly uninspiring - as indeed is the movie.

    The video transfer is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 which I assume is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    There are few dark scenes in the film, but overall black levels are acceptable with reasonable shadow detail. Colours are well rendered with numerous shades of green evident during the first half of the film. When the action switches to the USA, primary colours appear and these are quite startling in contrast to the dour colour scheme used earlier on. There is a tendency towards over saturation in the latter parts of the movie (particularly the red lighting around 61:20) but there is no evidence of significant colour bleeding. Skin tones are fairly natural throughout the film - the rather pale complexions of some of the actors is typical for the sun-starved UK.

    The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts, but there are some instances of pixelisation (for example on the Thunderpants in the opening titles) and a touch of compression artefacting around the actors from time to time. Edge enhancement was not noticeable as a significant problem, with the overall transfer not overly sharp. Aliasing is more common, for example the car grille at 14:26 and 54:15, the brickwork at 23:35 or the console vents at 71:03. Whilst fairly frequent, the aliasing was not a major distraction. Moiré effects crop up on occasion, for instance on Patrick's shirt at 5:34 or the television broadcast at 12:27.

    Film artefacts crop up surprisingly frequently for such a recent film, with numerous scratches and flecks and the occasional watermark. Fortunately they are all quite brief and are not overly distracting.

    The English subtitle track for the Hearing Impaired is well timed with small but noticeable edits to the dialogue. Personally, I thought there were rather few occasions where the subtitles provided the audio and musical cues expected from a hearing impaired track.

    This disc is dual layered, but with the short running time of the main film, I suspect the layer change is sensibly located between the feature and the extras. I could not detect the change when viewing the disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is fairly good with no significant flaws noted. Despite the case stating that the soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, it is actually presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps.

    The sound is generally clean and clearly rendered throughout, with no pops or dropouts noticed. Dialogue is always clear and the music never overpowers it. Audio sync was fine throughout.

    The original music is credited to Rupert Gregson-Williams, who seems to have done most of his work for television. The score fits the feel of the film rather well, and is suitably heroic where it needs to be, with melancholy strings during the poignant scenes and jaunty doodles during the more light-hearted moments.

    The front speakers provide good separation with some nice panning effects from time to time. The surround speakers see some use in supporting the musical score, with occasional front to rear pans (for example the jet taking off at 56:45 or the helicopter fly by at 68:11). Overall however, the soundtrack sounds fairly frontal for much of the time.

    The subwoofer is sporadically used and rarely draws too much attention ti itself. If ever there was a case for a comedy having some low frequency effects surely this was it? As it stands it adds little to the film, but does get some use for example the force ten guff at 65:11 or the rocket lift-off at 75:10.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The case for this film has to be the worst example of under-selling a product ever. It lists scene selections as the sole extra. Oh well, let's see if we can do any better ourselves. There are a significant number of extras available on this disc - far more than the poor film deserves to be honest.

Menu

    The main menu is quite a fun little number, with sprouts and baked beans bouncing around the screen accompanied by various trouser coughs. It allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of sixteen chapter stops, activating the subtitles, or playing the following special features:

Director and Crew Commentary

    A fairly entertaining commentary with the director, producer, production designer, writer and DoP. It is a good natured commentary which provides an insight into the creation of the film and the young actors, but I cannot imagine that children would find it overly entertaining.

Patrick Smash's Video Diary

    Running for a brief 3:08 and presented full screen (1.33:1) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps. It is a mildly amusing behind the scenes piece, with Bruce Cook at the helm of the camera.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented 16x9 enhanced in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps and running for 1:31.

Teaser Trailer

    As with the theatrical trailer, this is presented 16x9 enhanced in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps and running for 1:31.

Deleted Scenes

    Eight deleted scenes are available. They have to be selected one at a time, and each is presented letterboxed at 1.85:1, with some fairly dodgy video (replete with MPEG artefacts) and fairly poor Dolby Digital 2.0 sound encoded at 192 kbps:

Interviews with Cast and Crew

    Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio encoded at 192 kbps. These are fairly extensive and quite interesting, particularly the perspective of the two young stars. They do tend to end rather abruptly on occasion (sometimes almost mid-word) suggesting they are excerpts from longer pieces. The following interviews are available:

Fart Montage

    Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio encoded at 192 kbps. This 0:59 segment is a list of euphemisms for farts and farting as told by Grint and Hewitt.

Photo Gallery

    Around sixteen photos of the two young stars hamming it up.

Storyboards

    Presented as a series of storyboard sketches, followed by the opportunity to watch the relevant scene from the finished film. The selections available are:

Going All The Way Music Video

    Presented letterboxed at 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio encoded at 192 kbps. This 3:41 segment is a video performance of the song used in the closing scenes, performed by a cheesy pop group named Allstars.

DVD ROM Material

    Playable on the PC and the Macintosh, this is a fairly extensive collection of mini-games, posters and video clips. On my set-up the interview videos did not play properly, with hugely distorted sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1. The Region 2 version appears to have identical extras to our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    Thunderpants misses the comedy mark by a country mile. It is a one-joke film, albeit with some interesting (and ultimately tiresome) cinematography, that will not warrant repeat viewing. Bruce Cook and Rupert Grint put in creditable performances but the basic premise is so crass that they cannot save it from being a fairly tedious experience. Best avoided by all but the most easily pleased children.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio transfer is acceptable.

    The extras are numerous, and mildly entertaining.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Ahh, Ben Elton... -