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