The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)

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Released 11-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 89:46
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jon Amiel
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Bill Murray
Peter Gallagher
Joanne Whalley
Richard Wilson
Alfred Molina
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Christopher Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Man Who Knew Too Little was produced in 1997, four years after Billy Murray's highly successful Groundhog Day. I've had the Region 1 version in my collection for over 2 years and have seen this movie many times. Watching the movie again for this review, I still found it very amusing and entertaining.

    The Man Who Knew Too Little is an entertaining story about a naive and generally clueless American tourist named Wallace Ritchie (Bill Murray). It is Wallace's birthday, and as a surprise he decides to visit his younger brother Jimmy (Peter Gallagher) in England. However, Jimmy is in the middle of the most important business dinner meeting of his life. Wallace is quickly offloaded for a couple of hours onto the hottest interactive audience participation theatre experience in London, called 'The Theatre of Life'.

    Things quickly go awry and become very amusing with one case of mistaken identity after another. Unbeknownst to the bumbling Wallace, he has become involved in a very real case of international blackmail, espionage and murder. Wallace, who by this time prefers to be called Spencer the secret agent so as to remain in character for the role he thinks he is playing, must rescue the damsel in distress, evade the Russian hitmen, lose the police, prevent a bombing at a peace conference and stop the world from slipping into another cold war. The only catch is that Wallace thinks it is all part of 'The Theatre of Life' script, but it is for real.

    To really enjoy this movie you first must believe that someone can be this utterly clueless. Once you have achieved this state of mind, check your brain at the door, sit back and try not to think too much and just enjoy the film. Bill Murray fans will love it. The rest of us, as long as we follow the above instructions, will enjoy it as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is excellent, with only a few very minor flaws.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This differs marginally from both the stated aspect ratio on the back cover and the theatrical release ratio of 1.85:1.

    The transfer is clear and sharp from beginning to end, with no noticeable instances of grain. The majority of the movie is set at night so the quality of shadow detail is of prime importance. The shadow detail was excellent with all objects pertaining to the story clearly visible. There were no occurrences of low level noise.

    The colours were clear and sharp throughout with no problems evident. The blacks, which were very common, were very black and did not waver.

    There were no MPEG artefacts or film-to-video artefacts to be seen, not even the particularly noticeable and often annoying aliasing. Much to my surprise, film artefacts were also few and far between, the only noticeable but very minor instance being at 4:16.

    There are only two subtitle options on this disc; English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled both options and they appeared to be accurate and timely.

    This is a single layered disc and therefore there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is acceptable, but is not of the same quality as the video.

    There is only one audio offering to be found, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track.

    The dialogue was clear and easily understood throughout. There were a quite a few different accents throughout the movie and all were understood with ease. There was only one major flaw, which was a noticeable popping noise at 56:02. Audio sync was not an issue with this disc.

    The music score was written by Christopher Young and is one of the first things you notice about the movie. The score suits the movie extremely well and adds considerably to its overall feel and success. The music alternates between something similar to Get Smart or The Pink Panther and something from a serious Hitchcock spy movie, depending on the scene being played out on-screen. I just wish an isolated music score was available on this DVD, as it is on the Region 1 DVD.

    The surround speakers were only used sparingly. This is predominately a dialogue-driven movie, however, there were numerous instances where the surround speakers could have been utilised better.

    As with the surround speakers, the subwoofer is only used occasionally and not to its full potential.

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

Extras

    Disappointingly, there are no extras to be found on this disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on:

    The Region 4 has a slight edge in the picture quality but because of its lack of extras, particularly the Isolated Music track, I would have to recommend the Region 1 version.

Summary

    The Man Who Knew Too Little is an entertaining Bill Murray comedy about a simple, naive man in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe it's the right place at the right time - you decide. It has an excellent video transfer, acceptable audio, but sadly no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Geoff Greer (read my bio)
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using S-Video output
DisplayBang & Olufsen BeoVision Avante 82cm 16:9 Widescreen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVR-1803. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR 1803
SpeakersParadigm: Phantom V. 3 Front, Paradigm CC270 V. 3 Centre, Paradigm: Titan V. 3 Rear, Yamaha YST-SW305 Sub

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