Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Nothing here excelled, but the visuals appeared good for a documentary.
I mostly didn’t factor the archival material not shot explicitly for Drunk into my grade. Those elements demonstrated all sorts of flaws, but it didn’t seem fair to criticize the Blu-ray for problems with that kind of stuff.
As for the new shots, they presented solid sharpness. These elements consistently looked crisp and detailed, and they betrayed few signs of softness. Those bits portrayed no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and I saw no edge haloes or source flaws.
Not surprisingly, the disc’s palette tended toward natural tones. The movie’s hues came across with positive clarity and definition. The colors always looked vivid and concise, and I noticed no problems with them at any times. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while the occasional low-light shots appeared well defined and clean. Overall, I found the image to seem satisfying for this sort of flick.
Given the film’s focus, I expected little from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Drunk, and the track indeed seemed limited. Of course, the dialogue remained the focus, as the majority of the film’s information came from interviews or other conversational bits.
However, the program offered good stereo imaging for music throughout the film, as it presented near-constant use of songs. A few effects also crept in from the sides and surrounds, but not much occurred. The music spread to the back as well, but the front speakers remained the focus, and speech was firmly centered.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was consistently crisp and concise, with no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility not caused by poor source materials. Music seemed well-reproduced and clear. Effects were minor but acceptably accurate. This was a track that worked fine for the material.
The set’s extras begin with Additional Interview Footage. With a total running time of 22 minutes, 27 seconds, this area includes comments from contributors Sean Kelly, PJ O’Rourke, Michael Simmons and Tony Hendra, editor Mike Reiss, founder Henry Beard, performer Meat Loaf, art director Peter Kleinman, filmmaker Judd Apatow, and comic book writer/creator Stan Lee.
Their remarks cover movies and live performances, cultural elements, various participants, and general anecdotes. A few good beats appear here, but I must admit the collection disappoints, as it doesn’t add a lot. With so many participants and presumably so much unused information, I expected something meatier.
John Goodman Reads Doug Kenney lasts one minute, 18 seconds. Here the actor tells us part of Kenney’s story “First Blow Job”. It’s an amusing extra, though it’s not clear why we don’t get more of the tale.
During the 10-minute, 17-second Thoughts on Animal House, we hear from filmmakers John Landis and Ivan Reitman, and actors Kevin Bacon, Karen Allen, Mary Louise Weller, Stephen Furst, and Tim Matheson. Like the “Additional Interviews”, this compilation tends toward random thoughts. Again, some interesting material unfolds, but the collection seems less than coherent.
Next comes Drugs in the Office. It goes for two minutes, four seconds and offers a deleted scene. As implied, the clip focuses on the use of drugs at the Lampoon. It offers a moderately informative piece.
For a look at an unmade movie, we go to Jaws 3, People 0. This deleted scene lasts one minute, 56 seconds and looks at the abandoned parody. We find intriguing thoughts, though the clip seems a little brief.
Working in NYC fills one minute, nine seconds. Another deleted scene, it gives perspectives on life in New York during the Lampoon era. Once again, it offers a good but not great sequence.
For a look at the Lampoon’s most famous “spin-off”, Thoughts on SNL goes for two minutes, 11 seconds. We get opinions on the series and its impact on Lampoon. It gives us some solid notes, though it lacks a lot of substance.
Favorite National Lampoon Pieces gives us a three-minute, two-second deleted scene. As expected, we get a few thoughts on beloved Lampoon works. It proves to be a forgettable sequence.
We hear magazine excerpts in Reading John Hughes. The seven-minute, 12-second compilation features Beverly D’Angelo, Kevin Bacon, Stephen Furst, Anthony Michael Hall and Chevy Chase. This sounds better on paper than in reality, as the readings don’t work very well. I suspect the material works better in its original printed form.
Artists of the National Lampoon fills three minutes, 39 seconds. It showcases some of the magazine’s artists and tells how they came to the Lampoon. It lacks much merit, especially since it doesn’t name the participants; we recognize some from the main program but not all of them.
Finally, the Chevy Chase “Seeds” Story goes for two minutes, 16 seconds. Chase discusses getting pot during the shoot of Caddyshack. Chase tells a fairly amusing anecdote.
The disc opens with ads for Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Sunshine Superman, The Wrecking Crew and Best of Enemies. No trailer for Drunk shows up here.
As a look at an iconic comedic institution, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon satisfies. Of course, it needs to rush through a lot of topics, but it still delivers a compelling take on the subject matter. The Blu-ray offers more than acceptable picture and audio along with erratic supplements. This documentary works well.