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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Robert B. Weide
Cast:
Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines

Synopsis:
Larry David, co-creator and executive producer of the long-running hit comedy series "Seinfeld," tackles a new subject - himself. He's got it all: a loving wife, good friends, a successful career, a great home ... what could go wrong for Larry David?

Surrounded by an ecclectic mix of real and fictional re-creations of his friends, acquaintences and outright enemies, prone to speaking the unspeakable, and honest to the point of insensitivity, Larry David is a walking victim of misunderstandings and missed opportunities.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 390 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 1/13/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary on "The Pants Tent" Episode
• ”Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm”
• Interview with Larry David, Conducted by Bob Costas


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RELATED REVIEWS


Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season (1999)

Reviewed by David Williams (March 5, 2004)

Until Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David was one of the most famous people you’d probably heard of but never seen. As a former stand-up comic and co-creator of “Seinfeld”, David’s name was all over the place, but very few people recognized him via his stand-up act or his run on the ill-fated “SNL” rip-off, “Fridays”. However, that all changed in 1999 when HBO offered Larry David his own show. It was another hit for HBO; a wonderful vehicle to showcase the neurotic, self-loathing, and very funny David; and a place for all of us “Seinfeld” refugees to call home, as once again, Larry David managed to create an entertaining show about “nothing”. When you realize that David modeled the George Costanza character after himself, you might get a pretty good idea of what to expect in a day in the life of Larry David and in turn, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Larry David stars in Curb as himself … a writer/comic living in Los Angeles, California. His manager and his wife are played by actors (Jeff Garlin and Cheryl Hines respectively), although many of his Hollywood friends show up quite often throughout the season and play themselves in some pretty hilarious cameos (Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Wanda Sykes to name a few). The show has no working script to speak of, as Larry David and his ensemble work off of a plot/scene outline only; the resulting dialogue is mainly unrehearsed, improvised, and completely off-the-cuff and only adds to the show’s already chaotic nature. Much like “Seinfeld”, Curb Your Enthusiasm takes normal, everyday, and many times, nonsensical situations and plays them out to the Nth degree of absurdity. It then brings all of these seemingly unrelated events throughout the show together at the end and closes them all out in one, big, comedic … and at times, unbelievable … punch line.

Sprouting from a 1999 hour-long HBO special entitled Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm (included in the set), the show follows Larry David in his day-to-day life and everyday situations … a trip to the movies, a discussion not meant to be heard over a speakerphone, a bowling date with some friends, a dinner party (at a former porno star’s home no less), buying a bracelet, etc … are the central plots of the series and serve to show that even when you’re a big shot Hollywood comic, whatever can go wrong in your life, sometimes does … with disastrous results. Even the smallest incident … like neglecting to pick up a golf ball that falls out of someone’s range ball bucket at the Country Club … can sometimes spiral completely out of control and alienate every one else around you in the process.

There are a couple of easy-to-recognize reasons that contribute to Curb You Enthusiasm working so well, with one of them being the latitude that the show gets with language (as well as with some of the more “offensive” plot and storylines covered), because the show airs on HBO. While I have no doubts that the show would be must-see material on a network station, to me, being on HBO only helps Curb because they get to really push the envelope and cover certain storylines and topics that network TV would never allow. In season one alone, there are episodes dealing with David being accused of groping a good friend’s elderly mother, being a racist because of an inappropriate joke, sporting an erection around a good friend of his wife, showing up at an incest survivors group, and even death … and believe me, if you haven’t seen the show, these situations are played out with absolutely hilarious results.

Another thing the show has going for it is its marvelous cast of characters; regulars and otherwise. Larry David is the obvious stand-out of the group, as his self-depreciating and compulsive behavior is the lightning rod for all sorts of incredulous and humorous situations. You really get the feeling that he really is playing himself and that at times, his life is as crazy as it plays out on the show. For all we know, he's just as bizarre and infuriating in real life as he is on the show. Cheryl Hines shows up to play Larry’s long-suffering wife and rather than having her play a one-note character who simply rolls her eyes, smiles, and pats Larry on the back every time something incredulous happens (which is all the time), she is given a major role in the show and shows herself very deserving of the awards and accolades she has received. Jeff Garlin is the perfect buddy/best friend/manager. He and Larry are always getting each other into trouble, pissing off the other’s spouse, and generally enjoying their friendship, as well as their life together in Hollywood.

The guest stars on the show are simply icing on the cake. From Richard Lewis (more of a regular) to Ted Danson to Bob Odenkirk to Kathy Griffin to Wanda Sykes to many of David’s “Seinfeld” buddies, Curb Your Enthusiasm only adds to its voyeuristic qualities by having these personalities - and many others - show up week in and week out. Many of these celebrities simply play themselves, although there are plenty of times where some of them are in character and are not playing one of Larry’s Hollywood chums. Either way, it’s played to great effect and it’s always a treat to see who’s next in line to get pissed off and/or offended by Larry David.

To get an idea of what Larry David goes through in a “normal” day, let’s get a quick run down of the episodes featured in season one …

The Pants Tent (Original Air Date: October 15, 2000)
Before going to the movies, Larry points out an innocent “pants tent” to his wife, Cheryl – a “bunching” of fabric around his crotch – that makes it look like he has an erection. However, this causes more problems than he could ever imagine when he takes one of Cheryl’s friends to the movies and she mistakes his “tent” for just that – a major woody. Also, Larry unknowingly offends his good friend Richard Lewis’ girlfriend when trying to get down her aisle at the movies. Also, while on the phone with his manager, Jeff, Larry jokingly refers to him as “Hitler” without realizing that Jeff has him on speakerphone. Jeff’s parents hear the term and become hugely offended. Larry gets caught in a lie when Kathy Griffin naively says something in front of Cheryl.

Ted and Mary (Original Air Date: October 22, 2000)
Larry and Cheryl are on a double date at a local bowling alley with Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen and things end up on the wrong foot when Larry realizes that another customer has walked off with his shoes. Unfortunately, it’s one of his favorite pair. Mary calls the next day to check on him and Larry agrees to go shopping with her and her mother and he uses the occasion to order another pair of shoes. Ted and Cheryl find out about the shopping “date” and are a little confused and perturbed by the whole thing. Even so, Ted and Mary invite the David’s to a Paul Simon concert and when a slight breakdown in communication causes some confusion on what night they are actually going together, Larry and Cheryl get their feelings hurt somewhat when they don’t receive a call. Larry’s convinced that Mary was offended by something that happened in the food court at the mall. Meanwhile, Larry sees the man who walked off with his shoes actually wearing them and he asks for them back. When he goes to cancel the order for his new pair at the mall, he gets in to it with the shoe salesman at Barney’s.

Porno Gil (Original Air Date: October 29, 2000)
Larry gets an invite to attend a party at the home of a former porno star, Porno Gil (Bob Odenkirk), and he agrees to go … against Cheryl’s wishes and much better judgement. Besides getting lost on the way there, they show up quite late and everyone already there is a little perturbed at the David’s for holding things up. When asked to remove his shoes before entering the home, Larry politely refuses … and on the way out, he breaks a lamp, loses his watch, and pisses off the hostess immensely. However, the evening’s not a total loss, as he and Cheryl learn new uses for Tabasco, as well as what a “teabag” is. Meanwhile, Jeff is hospitalized and he asks Larry for a huge favor … to go to his house and hide his porno stash. When Larry sees Gil on the cover of one of Jeff’s videos and starts watching it, he’s interrupted by family arriving at Jeff’s home.

The Bracelet (Original Air Date: November 5, 2000)
Cheryl gets mad at Larry when she returns from out of town and he’s too busy watching a football game on TV to notice. She gets pretty fired up and in order to make peace, Larry decides to buy her a bracelet that he saw. However, when he shows up in his workout clothes at the jewelry store, they refuse to let him in because of his appearance. He borrows a cell phone and calls his good friend, Richard Lewis, and implores him to come into town and go into the store to buy the bracelet for him. When Lewis shows up and the store is closed for lunch, Larry and Richard and enlisted by a blind man to help him move into his apartment. After they’re done, the store is closed for the day and unfortunately for Larry, Richard Lewis now wants to buy the same bracelet for his girlfriend. All the while, Larry deals with some problems he has with restaurant tips and who should get what.

Interior Decorator (Original Air Date: November 12, 2000)
By politely holding open the elevator door for someone, Larry loses his place in line at the doctor’s office and has his appointment delayed by almost an hour when the woman for whom he held the door open signed in at the doctor’s office before he did. Unfortunately, the delay causes Larry to miss a meeting he had scheduled with Diane Keaton. When Larry gets home, he has a message from Keaton, but he can’t hear her phone number because of some static on the line while she was leaving her message. When Larry sees their interior decorator and learns that he has Keaton’s number, he asks for it. However, the decorator refuses to give it to him and of course, Larry gets pissed off about it. Larry’s manager comes through with Keaton’s number and eventually, he gets around to meeting with her. Unfortunately, when he shows up, he also sees his interior decorator and the two get into a fight at Keaton’s home.

The Wire (Original Air Date: November 19, 2000)
Larry and Cheryl befriend some weird neighbors in order to get permission from them to bury an unsightly telephone cable hanging over their yard. The need six neighbors to sign the agreement and the last of the neighbors, an ineffectual lawyer and his wife, are thankfully big “Seinfeld” fans and Larry decides that in order to make the decision easier on him, he’ll take Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (the neighbor’s favorite cast member) over to meet him. However, when Julia gets there, the lawyer is called away to defend Jeff in a case. While she’s there, Julia ends up buying a bracelet from the neighbor’s wife – who happens to be an antique jewelry dealer - that is identical to the one Larry tried to procure a couple of episodes back. When Larry has to come over to Julia’s house to pick up a special notebook he misplaced, a few days later, Dreyfuss ends up accusing him of stealing her bracelet (that has been misplaced) when she sees that Larry’s wife has one just like it. (Cheryl bought it herself …)

Aamco (Original Air Date: November 26, 2000)
While driving Jeff’s new baby, a ’57 Chevrolet convertible, Larry has a slight mishap when he mistakes the horn in a radio ad with that of a real car and he ends up getting rear ended. While hosting a problematic dinner party, Larry meets an Aamco mechanic – who specializes in antique cars - who agrees to fix Jeff’s car. However, Larry manages to screw it up when he offends the man by not inviting him to his home in Martha’s Vineyard.

Beloved Aunt (Original Air Date: December 3, 2000)
When Cheryl’s aunt dies, Larry promises to use his connections to get an obituary prominently placed in the newspaper. However, when an “a” is replaced by a “c” and “aunt” becomes “cunt”, Cheryl’s family isn’t amused and assumes Larry did it on purpose. Things only get worse when it’s learned that Larry encouraged Cheryl’s sister’s boyfriend to leave her. Larry is thrown out of the house by Cheryl and goes and stays with Jeff. However, he doesn’t last too long there either, as Jeff’s mother accuses him of trying to bust a move on her and cop a cheap feel. He leaves Jeff’s and tries to get a room at the hotel where Cheryl’s sister’s ex-boyfriend is staying and he gets thrown out of there as well. Just another day in the life of Larry David …

Affirmative Action (Original Air Date: December 10, 2000)
On his way to the drugstore to fill a prescription for Cheryl, Larry runs into Richard Lewis and he suggests that Larry and Cheryl come over for coffee so Larry can make up with Lewis’ girlfriend (from the premiere episode). While talking, the two see a friend of Richard’s; a black dermatologist. Larry makes an off-color joke that offends the doctor and feeling so bad about the whole thing, he forgets to go and fill Cheryl’s prescription for an itchy skin problem. When Larry does get the medication, he loses it and must suck up his pride as he asks for some help from the black doctor he insulted earlier with his affirmative action joke.

The Group (Original Air Date: December 17, 2000)
Larry’s manager knows the director of “The Vagina Monologues” and he suggests that they consider Cheryl for the role when it’s learned that another actress is leaving the production. While picking up the script, Larry and Cheryl run into one of Larry’s old girlfriends who sparks quite a bit of jealousy in Cheryl.

Look … If you enjoyed “Seinfeld”, you’ll love Curb Your Enthusiasm … I guarantee it. The fourth season (one of the best ever in my opinion) is currently running on HBO and this first season DVD set is a pleasant refresher on how great this show has been from day one. Without a doubt, Curb You Enthusiasm is one of the funniest - if not the funniest - show on television today and HBO has given you a great chance to find out why … starting from the very beginning.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Curb Your Enthusiasm is presented in its televised aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and looks quite nice for this DVD release. Shot with video cameras, the show has a “reality TV” look to it, albeit very polished and refined compared to others in the genre. That being said, the first season looks a bit more amateurish than its successors, as production qualities and budgets were obviously fine-tuned in later years.

The picture was pretty decent, but at times, disappointing, as jagged edges and halos seemed to show up quite often during the episodes. It wasn’t too distracting on my 48” Mitsubishi, but it was definitely noticeable enough to warrant a mention. Also, some softness and shimmer crept into the picture from time to time, but it didn’t seem any more excessive than other, bigger budget features I’ve seen.

There were a lot of good things going on with the transfer too, as detail remained acceptable throughout, even with all of the aforementioned problems. Colors were very natural and clean, as the innate palette used complimented the show and its material quite nicely. Balance and saturation were quite accurate, as bleeding and smearing were never noted at any time. Shadow detail and delineation were a little on the weak side, but never distracted from the show in any shape, form, or fashion.

All in all, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season was quite satisfying and will pacify the legions of Larry David fans out there who are considering – or already have – purchased this fine set.

HBO has included the show’s televised Dolby Surround 2.0 audio transfer for Curb, as the series is a very forward-driven affair that doesn’t rely at all on bombastic effects, but rather witty dialogue and outlandish situations. Outside of its funky, “Fellini-esque” score (Costas’ words, not mine), Curb Your Enthusiasm is a very dialogue-driven affair and HBO’s mix presents the material quite well.

Emanating from the front channels, dialogue was always crisp, clean, and easily understood throughout all of the season one episodes, without any breakup or distortion noted. The show’s quirky and atmospheric score sounded really nice and received some decent reinforcement at times, although it wasn’t anything overly impressive. HBO’s mix displays excellent dynamics and fidelity and for a Surround mix, it seems to contain a rather expansive soundstage to work within.

For what it is, HBO’s mix works well for the show and fans will find little to no fault with the studio’s efforts. The studio has also included a Dolby Surround 2.0 mix in French, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Before moving on to the supplements included on the set, I’d like to mention HBO’s unique packaging for the series. While not as cool as Six Feet Under: The Complete First Season, Curb Your Enthusiasm has its own nifty casing. When you open the box, you don’t actually see the discs; they’re housed in a clear plastic container inside one of the cardboard sleeves. You’ll notice a small, clear, plastic tab at the bottom of the left-hand sleeve that says “Pull”. When you do, one tray will slide out with and towards your hand, while the other tray slides up in the opposite direction. You should now see both discs; one above the cardboard sleeve … and one below it. Very cool and in my opinion, worthy of mention.

Moving on, disc one includes an Audio Commentary for the premiere episode, “The Pants Tent”. Featuring director Robert B. Weide and stars Larry David, Cheryl Hines, and Jeff Garlin, the track is somewhat of a disappointment. First off, it’s only thirty minutes long … secondly, there’s only one … and thirdly, it was a little boring considering the participants. However, so much of the show is improvised and funny, it’s probably a little selfish of me to expect some earth-shatteringly hilarious commentary. There’s some good information divvied out during the short running time of the commentary and the group discusses the genesis of the series and talk about the evolution of the show over the last 2-3 years. Granted, there’s some good discussion, but a little too much dead air as well. Even so, I’m just glad to have the first season on DVD, so supplements at this point don’t really matter.

The second disc contains the remainder of the supplements, as ”Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm” (58:57) shows up first. This is the innovative, hour-long program that started it all. In the show, Larry David and his manger show up at the offices of HBO and pitch a documentary that would follow him for 44 days as he prepares to make his eventual comeback as a stand-up comic. Jeff Garlin and Cheryl Hines show up, as they do in the series, as his manager and wife respectively and there are tons of interview snippets within this “documentary” from David’s “Seinfeld” co-stars and fellow comics who have worked with him in the past, as they discuss what it was like working with him and his triumphant return to stand-up. This is as funny as the show itself and it’s easy to see why HBO wanted more. This is a great inclusion to the set and something that no self-respecting Curb fan shouldn’t have seen multiple times already.

Next is an Interview with Larry David, Conducted by Bob Costas (29:18) and here, we get a really great and in-depth interview with David that offers up some really great information on the processes David goes through in order to produce an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Costas brings up the improvisational aspects of the show and David does a really great job of elaborating on the process and how it’s “scripted” from a scene standpoint. He talks about the multiple takes required to nail certain scenes and reminisces about memorable characters and one-shot takes. He talks about the barriers that HBO allows him to break, the recurring cast members, the Fellini-esque score and where he first heard it (a bank commercial), and so on. Many of the subsequent seasons are covered in the episodic clips, as the interview was shot well into the 2nd and 3rd seasons, but it’s no bother, as the interview is pure bliss. Costas and David play off of each other well and the interview offers up some incredible information on the show and the processes behind it.

Even during its first season, Curb Your Enthusiasm was met with critical acclaim and a pretty enthusiastic following on HBO and this marvelous boxed set of the first season is a great way to go back and relive the chaotic and unhinged beginnings of the show. The show is nothing short of unadulterated, comedic genius and I imagine that fans of Curb more than likely already have this one in their collection already. However, for those of you who haven’t checked out Curb yet and feel that TV just hasn’t been the same since “Seinfeld”, I would highly recommend you give the set a spin. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Curb Your Enthusiasm is a series that must be experienced, as no review can do the show justice and in my opinion, there’s no better way to do that than with HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season. In short, it’s a highly recommended, must-have set for any self-respecting fan of good television.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4 Stars Number of Votes: 50
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