DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Frank Oz
Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Christine Baranski, Jamie Kennedy, http://www.dvdmg.com/cgi-bin/search/search.pl?Terms=Robert Downey Jr." class="roll3">Robert Downey Jr.
Writing Credits:
Steve Martin

When a desperate movie producer fails to get a major star for his bargain basement film, he decides to shoot the film secretly around him.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$18,062,550 on 2706 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 8/8/2017

• Audio Commentary with Director Frank Oz
• “Spotlight on Location” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Bowfinger [Blu-Ray] (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 17, 2017)

Of all genres, I don't think any depends on talented performers as heavily as comedies. Strong scripts or skilled directors can make virtually every other kind of production overcome mediocre acting, but not comedy. If the performances fall flat, the program will fail virtually every time.

Conversely, this emphasis on acting talent benefits lackluster material. I can't count the number of times I've watched movies or TV shows that offer little wit or spark in any way other than the performers but still came to love those pieces. Great comedic talent can't always save poor material, but it can make those works much more entertaining than they should be.

1999’s Bowfinger is a film blessed with both good material and a fine cast, but I think it's the acting that takes the movie to another level. To be sure, Steve Martin's script is clever and funny, but the lines themselves aren't enough to make this movie go. It's the acting that carries the day, particularly via a stunning performance from Eddie Murphy.

Bobby Bowfinger (Martin) tries his hardest to become a Hollywood big shot, but he fails every time. He thinks his pal Afrim’s (Adam Alexi-Malle) script for Chubby Rain will be a hit but he can’t get the financing to make it work. Successful producer Jerry Renfro (Robert Downey Jr.) tells Bowfinger he’ll finance Chubby Rain under one condition: Bobby must recruit superstar Kit Ramsey (Murphy) as the lead.

That seems to be an impossible task, but Bowfinger comes up with a stroke of apparent genius: he’ll surreptitiously film Ramsey and integrate that footage into the rest of the movie. We watch Bobby’s crazy quest, one that gets even nuttier when he recruits a Kit doppelganger named Jiff (Murphy again) for long shots.

I saw Bowfinger during its theatrical run and liked it but didn't feel dazzled by it. By that point in my life, I should’ve known how meaningless many of my initial reactions could be, as lots of my favorite films didn't do much for me that first time, and comedies are at the forefront of that fact. Still, though I should have known better, Bowfinger wasn't a film I planned to see again.

Nonetheless, I decided to give the DVD a look in 2000, and I’m glad I did. On second glance, Bowfinger more fully revealed its charms, and I’ve continued to love it ever since then.

Most of this positive sentiment stems from Murphy's fantastic dual performance as superstar Kit and likable goof Jiff. Kit's really an exaggerated version of Murphy himself, with his egotistical ways and his entourage, and Murphy seems to enjoy this form of self-parody.

Kit didn't make that great an impression the first time around, but upon subsequent viewings, I find the character fascinating and absolutely hilarious. Murphy invests the character with such over-the-top emotion that he's constantly entertaining and uproarious.

Though Jiff is much more laid-back and lovable, Murphy's equally hilarious in this role. At times it's hard to believe the same actor plays both parts because everything about them is so totally different. Even though Jiff obviously looks just like Kit, they barely seem to resemble each other.

This doesn't happen because of makeup that changes one's appearance - it's all in the attitudes with which Murphy endows the characters. Is this the best performance of his career? Yeah, I think so.

Steve Martin largely plays the straight man in the film, though he's not really put in that kind of dry position, as he certainly gets quite a lot of strong material himself. However, I feel so bowled over with Murphy that Martin seems to get put into the background to a degree.

Nonetheless, Martin is thoroughly terrific as the title character. He makes Bowfinger vaguely likable but doesn't overexert himself to endear the guy to the audience.

Bowfinger's a cartoon of a “Hollywood wannabe”, and while his ruthlessness is generally inept, he shouldn't seem too sympathetic to the audience. He doesn't, but we're still happy when he makes it at the end.

The remainder of the cast is also quite strong. Heather Graham displays a fine aptitude for comedy here. After her stiff and flat performance in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, I began to doubt that she had any flair for comedic material. However, Graham dispels that notion with her deft and witty performance as the stereotypically manipulative actress Daisy.

Frank Oz is not and never will be a great director, but he knows enough to stage some more-than-competently made films. When he has great actors – as he does here or in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and What About Bob? - he can produce good films, but he's inconsistent.

Pictures like Housesitter and In and Out were mediocre at best, despite some strong actors. For whatever reason, though Oz brings out the best in his cast here, and as such, Bowfinger is a keeper.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Bowfinger appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with an erratic transfer.

For the most part, the film displayed good delineation, as overall sharpness seemed fine. However, the image came with some artificial sharpening and edge haloes, both of which gave the flick a less natural/more “digital” look than I’d like.

No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, but some print flaws cropped up through the film. Most of these small marks appeared during the opening credits, but a handful still manifested the rest of the way. Though not a dirty image, the flick could – and should – have been cleaner.

Colors appeared positive, as the movie went with a warm, natural palette that satisfied. Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows tended to be clear. Much of the flick looked pretty good, but the flaws dragged it down to a “C+”..

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, Bowfinger boasted a fairly decent front soundstage and created an overall three-dimensional ambience. This wasn't Saving Private Ryan, so there's little bombast, but the mix utilized the five discrete channels well and provided a pretty realistic atmosphere.

The best scenes were those such as the one in which Jiff had to cross the crowded highway, as traffic noises whizzed past effectively. Otherwise, most of the flick emphasized general environmental material, all of which created a workable – if mediocre – soundscape.

The quality of the audio seemed fine. Although I occasionally noticed a slightly harsh edge to the speech, dialogue seemed clear and natural. Music seemed a little trebly but featured some strong bass and appeared generally well-reproduced.

Ironically, effects were probably the most consistently strong aspect of the audio, as these always appeared realistic and provided a surprising impact. Bowfinger won't win any awards for sound design, but it's a perfectly competent complement to the onscreen action.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio showed a little more range and heft, while visuals were tighter and more dynamic. Though the Blu-ray had drawbacks, it still topped the lackluster DVD.

The Blu-ray reproduces most of the DVD’s extras and we open with an audio commentary from director Frank Oz. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that looks at story issues and editing, sets and locations, cast and performances, set design and cinematography, and a few other topics.

When I first listened to this track back in early 2000, I didn’t care for it. Maybe I’ve just heard more than my fair share of truly crummy commentaries over the last 17 years, but now I can’t figure out why I disliked Oz’s chat.

Sure, he indulges in some of the usual happy talk, but he also gives us many nice insights into the production. I especially like his notes about cut scenes and improvised bits. This turns into a generally satisfying discussion.

Next up is a 23-minute, 25-second promotional documentary about the film called Spotlight On Location. As with many studio-produced pieces, this one largely serves to tell us how terrific the movie is. It offers interview snippets from Oz and actors Jamie Kennedy, Heather Graham, Steve Martin, Christine Baranski, Eddie Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Terence Stamp..

“Spotlight” lacks any kind of real "making of..." emphasis and reveals very little about the creative processes behind the film. Still, it's pleasant and entertaining and seems to be a more substantial piece than most of these featurettes; it ain't great, but it's worth a watch.

Two deleted scenes fill five minutes, 35 seconds. One offers an alternate version of the bit in which Bowfinger tells his friends about the project, and the other is an unused piece in which Bowfinger searches for Kit's address.

The latter is pretty funny, actually, and the former is good but a bit lengthy. Oz refers to many other deleted scenes in his commentary, so it's strange this is all we find. Nonetheless, I enjoyed being able to see them.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc contains two minutes, 58 seconds of outtakes. Mixed in with the goofs are some unused takes of scenes that are quite amusing; Murphy tosses in a line to describe Jiff's "encounter" with Daisy that's absolutely hilarious. As such, these outtakes are much more entertaining than most.

We’ve seen plenty of Hollywood parodies over the years, but few amuse as well as Bowfinger. While it reinvents no wheels, it uses excellent performances from a terrific cast to turn into a consistently enjoyable flick. The Blu-ray offers acceptable picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements. This never becomes a great Blu-ray, but the movie remains a delight.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BOWFINGER

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main