Spy Hard

Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
77:38 minutes
(Not 81 minutes as stated on the packaging)
Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Rick Friedberg

Warner Home Video
Starring Leslie Nielsen
Nicollette Sheridan
Charles Durning
Marcia Gay Harden
Barry Bostwick
Andy Griffith
RRP $34.95 Music Bill Conti

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Pardon me? A spoof and you want a plot? Well then, if you need one here it is .... there is not one! Seriously, well not really but it sounds good, the broad spoof here is just about every cliché you can think of involving the spy genre. Debonair secret agent saves world from destruction by bad guy, whilst getting the stunning babe. And that really is pretty much the whole deal. The debonair secret agent is WD-40 a.k.a. Dick Steele (Leslie Nielsen), the bad guy is General Rancor (Andy Griffith) and the stunning babe is Agent 3.14 a.k.a. Veronique Ukranssky (Nicollette Sheridan) - and if this sounds like a James Bond spoof, that is the basis certainly. Hence the reason why you have The Director (Charles Durning) in place of M, Miss Cheevus (Marcia Gay Harden) in place of Miss Moneypenny and Norman Coleman (Barry Bostwick) for the sheer hell of it!

    The films that this spoofs are longer than the plot details, and range far and wide. Amongst the more recognizable are Speed, ET, Home Alone, In The Line of Fire, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Pulp Fiction, True Lies, Sister Act et al. And if you think that is an eclectic bunch, you got that right. Then add in the guest appearances like Ray Charles as the bus driver in Speed, and you can "see" where we are heading.

    Which is all lost really because this is not the greatest spoof that you are ever likely to see. Whilst Leslie Nielsen could make an undertakers guide funny, even this is beyond his considerable talents. The only really saving grace here is the delight of Nicollette Sheridan.

Transfer Quality


    Well, I have said it before and I will say it again, Buena Vista are nothing if not inconsistent in their transfers. This one is acceptable at best.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, at times it is difficult to believe the enhanced bit.

    The transfer is not especially sharp and at times lacks an awful lot in definition. At times the picture looks quite grainy. Shadow detail is not especially good and just adds to the general disappointment here.

    The colours were somewhat variable in presentation: at times quite vibrant and at other times a little lacking in vibrancy. Whilst never dull, the inconsistency is a little offputting.

    MPEG artefacts were a bit of a problem, as panning shots seemed to have a degree of blur to them, which was a bit distracting. Not serious, but enough to make the focus go a little awry and be noticeable. At one point (58:40) there was a minor jitter in the transfer, again not serious but noticeable. Film artefacts were very prevalent during the film and were a little distracting, which is very disappointing as this is not an old film.


    Thankfully the audio transfer was significantly better and some of the detail was very good indeed.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, the default being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with the transfer at all..

     Since this is a spoof, the musical score by Bill Conti was suitably reminiscent of many other film soundtracks, most especially the James Bond series. It suited the film very well obviously, although equally not very original either.

    The surround channels were well balanced and there was some gorgeous detail out of the rear channels - check out some of the golf club and bar scene details. Amongst some of the best detail that I have heard for a while. You were nicely inserted into the sound picture.

    The subwoofer got some serious workout here, and whilst I felt some of the bass was a little over the top (such as with the car), the use was consistent with the style of the film.


    In the immortal words of Michael D - que?


    A fairly plain Jane menu lacking any enhancement at all, and if you listen in English and do not need subtitles, about as useful as mammaries on a bull.

R4 vs R1

    Region 1 misses out on;
    At least Buena Vista treat Region 4 with the same disdain as they treat Region 1 as far as extras go, so there is no apparent difference between the two regions except for the enhancement, which provides a compelling reason to prefer the Region 4 issue.


    Spy Hard is the sort of "stupid film", as my sister calls them, that I love, but even this really does not do too much for me (except for .... well enough of that).

    The overall video quality is acceptable, nothing more.

    The audio quality is actually pretty damn good, especially in comparison.

    Let me know if you find some extras to give to Buena Vista. They must run out of white paper soon surely?

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras que?

© Ian Morris
10th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL