The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)

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Released 25-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 97:39
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Renny Harlin

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Andrew Dice Clay
Wayne Newton
Lauren Holly
Priscilla Presley
Robert Englund
Case ?
RPI $27.95 Music Yello

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, Ford's a 2 carton a day man!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Adventures of Ford Fairlane isn't going to appeal to everyone. To be blunt, it's full of fairly offensive, in-your-face humour that borders on the tactless, lots of sexual innuendo and blatant stereotyping as well as some very tacky dialogue that never seems to get above the navel. Director Renny Harlin has made some absolute stinkers of movies, including Deep Blue Sea and his latest, Driven, but he's also made some sterling stuff such as Die Hard 2 and The Long Kiss Goodnight. It's possibly not surprising then that this lies somewhere in the middle. It was originally a bomb at the box office but has garnered something of a cult following since it was released in 1990.

    One of the appeals, or lack thereof if you are not a fan, is the presence of Andrew Dice Clay. His brand of humour, gratuitously offensive at the best of times, suits the character of Ford Fairlane to a tee, and he uses many of the same moves, nervous tics and gestures as in his stage act to round out a totally obnoxious character with all the charm of a redneck at a beer swilling convention. The most redeeming feature of the movie is the presence of a great supporting cast including David Patrick Kelly as Sam the Sleaze, Robert Englund as Smiley, Priscilla Presley as Colleen Sutton, Ed O'Neill as Lt Amos and Wayne Newton as Julian Grendel. Lauren Holly plays Jazz, Ford's ill-used secretary and there are plenty of other cameo roles to add to the mix.

    The storyline follows the antics of Ford Fairlane, which is also the type of car he drives, who specialises in detective work for the rock and roll fraternity. His biggest problem is he is almost never paid in cash (just bicycle shorts, koalas and gold records) and is rapidly running out of money. After successfully closing a case involving Sam the Sleaze, he receives a call from his old school friend Johnny Crunch (Gilbert Gottfried), a shock-jock in L.A. who offers him money to find his daughter Zuzu Petals (Maddie Corman) who has run away and become a groupie. Desperate for money, Ford agrees but only moments after he leaves the studio Crunch is electrocuted on air and Ford has no case, and still no money.

    Enter Colleen Sutton - rich, successful, beautiful and not amused by Ford's puerile humour. She offers him $4000 to find Petals as well, and suddenly Ford smells a rat. Taking the job he begins touring around the studios where he runs across Julian Grendel, a smarmy record producer and promoter of the talentless. After a nice musical interlude, it's back to the chase. After a tip-off, Ford ends up at Johnny Crunchs' boat and discovers Colleen and Johnny sharing more than war stories and he begins to see that he's being played for a fool. This is where the fun begins.

    Anyhow, there are some excellent location shots (cinematography by Oliver Wood), especially the scenes on the outside of the Capitol Building, but the dialogue becomes fairly predictable and trite after a while and there is only so much of Ford you can take. Fortunately, this was a one hit wonder that never went any further. Clay's movie career faltered as did his appearance (the last time I saw him he'd porked up badly), although I believe he's just as big (sic) today in the nightclub scene as ever and still using the same sort of humour to wow audiences. Some things never change. This is strictly a movie for the fan or those wanting a quick laugh at someone else's expense. Strangely enough, I've seen this movie a dozen times. Says something about my more base needs I guess! UNBELIEVABLE!

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Transfer Quality


    I had little expectations for a transfer that was movie only. My first impression (after seeing the main menu graphics) wasn't that high, but surprise, surprise, this transfer is obviously taken from an almost pristine interpositive. Certainly there are some minor problems on display but nothing that will offend most viewers.

    Framed in the same aspect ratio as the original movie release, we are presented with a 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced transfer on this disc.

    The sharpness is excellent with none of the usual edge enhancement noted. Shadow detail was right up there with the best and many background shots exhibited great depth with lots of fine detail on show. Some of the night shots were a little on the dark side but no low level noise was noted and grain, although present was fairly subdued and a relative non-issue during most of the movie.

    There was a decent array of colours used, although the palette wasn't that wide. Saturation was mostly used in the area of reds and blues for effect, in concert or as general lighting (as in the recording studio). I couldn't detect any chroma noise nor colour bleed although the saturation was very heavy at times. Outside of this though, the natural skin tones attest to a well-balanced transfer.

    For the most part, film and video artefacts were few and far between. You may notice some very slight pixelization on Ford's car when he's driving it, especially at night. There is some slight ringing on a truck in the background at 11:47 and a moiré artefact at 12:55 on a Venetian blind. There were plenty of the usual flecks and spots in the opening and closing minutes of the movie, but after this the only really noticeable blemishes were at 13:30 and 20:34 (a red scratch on the film). Apart from these few moments, the rest of the transfer is fairly free of problems.

    The subtitles are located in the bottom portion of the screen and easily readable with a good, if slightly blocky font. They are very accurate to the dialogue on-screen for a change.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is not much choice in the audio department on this disc. An English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack is all that is available, although it handles the job reasonably well given the dialogue-driven nature of the movie. Running at a reasonable (not not spectacular) bitrate of 192 kilobits per second this doesn't have much oomph behind it to be honest. There is good spaciousness across the fronts, but the surround envelope that you hope for is very much missing except in a couple of spots. Overall, this was only adequate in regards to the soundtrack, but at least there wasn't much wrong otherwise.

    There is no mistaking the dialogue-driven nature of the movie and every profanity is as clear as a bell. The syncing was spot on, even the lip-synced song numbers during the movie.

    The music for the movie is credited to Yello and is fairly lightweight. You'd expect a movie about a 'Rock and Roll Detective' based in L.A. to be chock-a-block with tunes and songs, but for the most part they are subdued and background fare only. The only really chunky numbers (besides Ford's solo in the studio) are pretty quickly bypassed to get back to the action. Overall, a decent, if underplayed soundtrack that has few overpowering moments.

    The surround usage on this disc is fairly limited. Although the music and some of the effects are cut into the rears, you will rarely hear them used unless you want to put your ear next to the speaker. The three most obvious moments when the surrounds kick in are at 1:50 during the opening Black Plague concert, at 35:10 during Ford belting out the old 50's classic I Ain't Got You and at 89:11 when (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) he shoots Smiley and the gun reverbs through the surrounds.

    The subwoofer was not used on this disc although my system did redirect the odd moment into the .1 channel, albeit very rarely.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer

    Presented at 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced with a running time of 1:05. Short, sweet and to the point with oversaturated colour and showing a lot more grain than the movie as well as being slightly on the blurry side.

R4 vs R1

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

    At this time, there doesn't appear to be a Region 1 release of this movie.


    The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane is not for everyone. It is a movie that you either love or hate, and if you love it you've probably seen it a dozen times (like me).

    An excellent video transfer with minimal problems is on offer and the only real complaints could be directed at the opening couple of minutes with some film artefacts.

    The audio transfer is less than stellar but it does the job. Minimal surround usage and nothing from the subwoofer.

    One theatrical trailer does not an extras package make.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Thursday, March 14, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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