Death to Smoochy (2002)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Multiple Angles-Interactive Ice Show (4)
Gallery-Magic Cookie Bag (6)
Listing-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (68:54)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Danny DeVito|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, heaps of KidNet products (well, they ARE annoying)|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, the credits start over the final scene.|
Certainly Death To Smoochy isn't perfect — it is better as a concept than it is in the execution, but none the less provides an entertaining film that makes the most of a perfect opportunity to take an enormous swipe at the children's television industry. The premise of the film is simple and with wide appeal (let's face it, is there anyone out there who can honestly say they have never wished an ugly demise on a certain purple dinosaur?). Kids show host Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) has been caught taking bribes to put kids in prime positions in his show, and is thrown off the air. In an attempt to "clean up" the network heads go for clean-living simpleton Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) and his Smoochy the (fuchsia) Rhino character. Randolph, quickly loosing his sanity, sees Smoochy as the next thing to the devil, and sets out on a plan to bring down the Rhino, and win back his spot.
While the film as it is presented is funny, and a wickedly biting satire, it does not really live up to its promise, portraying Sheldon/Smoochy as too much of the good guy, and his clean living attitude is too much of a good thing. The opportunity was there to go to a very dark place, and make a true black comedy, but this film pulls its punches (in a very similar way to the recent Changing Lanes), rather going in for the kill. What it does provide are some very funny one-liners, and the opportunity to see Robin Williams in full-on manic mode for the first time in a long while. The performances of Edward Norton and the supporting cast are excellent, especially as they provide a far more sane backing for Williams' character to play off. Catherine Keener absolutely nails her hardened TV executive character, gradually showing more heart as the film goes on, often only through a look. Danny DeVito, when he steps out from behind the camera, is good as always in a small role as Sheldon's devious agent, while Jon Stewart steals virtually every scene he is in as the slimy TV boss.
This is a film that very much deserves checking out, and while it is not quite what it could have been, it is still far better than many films that do get a theatrical release. So don't be fooled — do yourself a favour, and indulge in those fantasies to beat up on children's TV show hosts, and check out Death To Smoochy.
Presented at 1.78:1, this is only a slight change from the original theatrical aspect ratio (that is, if you were lucky enough to live in a country where it did get a theatrical release). The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is very sharp, easily displaying all fine detail. Additionally, there is almost no visible grain at all, making for a crisp and clear image that is a pleasure to behold. Shadow detail is equally good, making the darkly lit scenes great to watch and full of atmosphere. There is no low level noise present.
Colours are excellent, with the night-time blacks being completely black, and the highlights being bright and vibrant. At the same time, scenes in the bar (such as the scene in which Randolph is busted) are sumptuous and rich in their visual expression. Cinematographer Anastas Michos has done a first rate job on this film.
There are no compression artefacts at all in this transfer, and only a very few film artefacts — all almost invisible (such as at 7:52). Mild aliasing is slightly more common, but it is never severe or distracting, with instances such as the curb at 49:09, and the car at 72:22, being among the worst.
The subtitles are rather inaccurate, often straying from the spoken word, and in a comedy such as this, that is not a desirable situation.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 68:54 during chapter 21. This is the second excellent layer change I have encountered in three reviews, as I did not detect it either when watching the movie or the commentary, and had to resort to computer-based searching to find it. It occurs on a static image with no sound, making it almost impossible to detect (although once you know where it is, the image does seem to be static a little too long).
There are two audio tracks present on this disc. The first is the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 kbps), the second an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (at 192 kbps).
Dialogue is clear at all times, although there are a few characters whose modes of speech make understanding a little tricky, but this is intentional. Audio sync is generally good, although there are a few occasions, such as at 21:02, where it slips slightly out.
The score music is credited to David Newman, and is very good. It works effectively to combine the off-centre tone of the movie with the mad-cap antics, effectively recalling themes throughout — both on- and off-key — to set the mood of a scene. In addition to the score, Edward Norton wrote all his own Smoochy songs, and while that is quite cute (and it's nice to see an actor actually putting in that amount of effort for a role), I think it's safe to say there are no genuine children's music writers quaking in their boots at this time.
Surround presence is non-existent. Simply forget you have the rear two or three speakers plugged in, because this soundtrack has. They utter only a very low volume reflection of the front soundstage throughout the movie — low enough that you actually have to go right up to the speaker to hear it. While this movie does not call for a very dynamic soundstage, it would have been nice if there had been some effort put in — otherwise, we should have just had a stereo soundtrack.
The subwoofer is scarcely used more than the surrounds, having a role limited to backing up the score on an infrequent basis.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is extremely good, presenting a clear and crisp picture that is a pleasure to watch.
The audio is disappointing, as while it delivers dialogue well enough, there is no use of surround channels at all, while the sub-woofer largely sits dormant. Rather than the 5.1 track this has been encoded as, it sounds more like a 3.0 track.
There is a nice selection of interesting extras presented for this disc, showing that at least some effort has been put into this film.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||All matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)|