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MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Landis
Cast: George Lazenby, Bill Bixby, Donald Sutherland, Evan C. Kim
Writing Credits:
David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams

Tagline:
This movie is totally out of control!

Synopsis:
The original take-off cult classic from the highly successful team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker (Airplane, The Naked Gun), this uproariously funny film launched a thousand laughs and serves as a precursor to the raunch-fests of the ’80s and the blockbuster success of the Farrelly Brothers films. Directed by the legendary John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers), The Kentucky Fried Movie features a lewd, loosely connected collection of skits that spoof blaxploitation films, news shows, porno movies, TV commercials, kung fu flicks and more!

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Subtitles:
None
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $19.97
Release Date: 7/2/2013

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Director John Landis, Writers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams and Producer Robert K. Weiss
• “A Conversation with David and Jerry Zucker”
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Kentucky Fried Movie [Blu-Ray] (1977)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 23, 2014)

As I've contended in other reviews, no genre depends more on the quality of the performers - and less on script or direction - than comedy. For instance, 1986’s Ruthless People could have been a pretty tepid film, but the cast lifted the film to another level. Conversely, a weak cast will make even the best comedic ideas fall flat. When your film features neither a talented cast of actors nor a bright and clever script, you have a genuine dud on your hands.

Enter 1977’s The Kentucky Fried Movie. To call this "cult classic" unfunny would be a serious understatement; during its 83 minutes, I never once cracked a smile, much less actually chortled.

I lay most of the blame on the largely drab and talentless cast. If you scan the credits, you'll find virtually no actors who went on to gain success in the business; this is a group of serious nobodies. Sure, we find such then-already-known folks as Donald Sutherland, Bill Bixby, George Lazenby and a couple of others, but absolutely no one in the cast who was not previously successful did anything significant after Kentucky.

I find that nearly unfathomable. How could a film with such an enormous group of actors produce no one who ever made a name for him/herself? Just by luck of the draw there should have been at least one future star in the thing. But that's not the case, and for good reason, as the entire cast consists of stiffs.

It doesn’t help that director John Landis and his collaborators don’t know when to quit. For instance, the “Feel-A-Round” segment lacks much inspiration, but the film kills any comedic potential due to its excessive length. The sequence just won’t end, and it doesn’t get funnier as it goes. This remains true for much of the movie; witless sketches extend past the point of no return and turn annoying.

That might actually be the biggest problem with Kentucky. Perhaps it’s illogical to say that a collection of many short unfunny sketches would work better than a compilation of a few long unfunny sketches, but I think it’s true. The tedium that occurs here makes Kentucky even less entertaining; at least if it ran through concepts rapidly, I’d not get so tired of the same bad actors and witless situations.

Good performers can take bland or flat material and make it at least somewhat entertaining, but when poor actors pitch weak material, the result flops. The Kentucky Fried Movie becomes a painful excuse for comedy that never threatens to amuse.

By the way, the press release that came with my copy of Kentucky claims that it was the "impetus" for Saturday Night Live. Buh? SNL hit the airwaves in 1975 but Kentucky didn't appear until 1977.

I entertained the notion that perhaps they made Kentucky prior to 1975 and circulated via some sort of cheap copies but didn't formally come out until 1977. That would leave open the possibility that the forces behind SNL saw the early version of the movie and stole from it. However, I found no evidence to support this theory, and the self-same press release states that Kentucky was filmed in 1977. As such, unless Nostradamus created SNL, there's no way it could have emanated from Kentucky.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

The Kentucky Fried Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Partially a reflection of its low-budget origins, this tended to be a mediocre image.

Admittedly, it became somewhat tough to judge the presentation due to variations in the source. The filmmakers emulated a variety of styles, and those prompted the inconsistencies. For instance, segments meant to depict TV shows looked the worst, as it appeared the filmmakers degraded them to simulate broadcast visuals.

However, that didn’t mean the remainder of the movie looked consistent, as even the mix of film shots varied a lot. While the “TV elements” were easily the ugliest, the film sequences lacked consistency. At best, these seemed pretty accurate and concise, with warm enough colors and good blacks; the “Fistful of Yen” portion was probably the most attractive, though even that one could occasionally seem soft and flat.

Other portions jumped around quite a bit. Overall sharpness tended to be decent at best, with reasonable accuracy in close-ups but less solid definition in wider shots. Definition was never poor, but it was never terribly precise, either. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and digital artifacts weren’t an issue.

With a lot of grain, I didn’t suspect any digital noise reduction, but the print could be dirty. I saw occasional specks and marks as well as some thin lines, flickering and “cigarette burns”. The movie did seem cleaner as it progressed, so I found most of the problems during its first half.

At their best, blacks could be deep, but they also could seem flat and dull. Shadows showed similar variations, and colors failed to deliver consistency. Some hues appeared reasonably full, while others were bland and dull. A mix of pretty good and pretty blah, this was a “C” image.

Though not impressive, the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack seemed more than acceptable given its age and budgetary origins. Dialogue sounded clear and moderately natural, with no intelligibility issues.

Effects were somewhat thin but they appeared clean and acceptably crisp. The film featured no actual score, so whatever music we heard came from the individual segments and wasn't part of a greater whole. Within those constraints, the music seemed acceptably full and concise. I found the soundtrack of The Kentucky Fried Movie to provide a relatively positive listening experience.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio was a wash, as the lossless mono might’ve been a bit clearer but was held back by the limitations of the source.

The same held true for the visuals. While the Blu-ray seemed better defined and more vivid, one shouldn’t expect miracles, and the Blu-ray’s image appeared to be dirtier than the DVD’s. The Blu-ray improved upon the DVD but still came with plenty of its own concerns.

The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we open with an audio commentary from director John Landis, writers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, and producer Robert K. Weiss. All five men were recorded together for this running, screen-specific look at the film’s origins and development, cast and performances, sets and locations, aspects of the various skits, and general thoughts about the movie.

The guys sound as though they're having a great time as they screen the flick and reminisce. Unfortunately, their fun doesn't always - or often - translate to great listening for the fan. Too much of the commentary degenerates into laughter, which can get a bit annoying after a while.

A lot of the track tends to simply identify the names of the on-screen participants, so this recording can be short on real data. It provides good notes on occasion - I was amused by the titles the guys wanted to use for the film - but all the laughing and non-information can make it a tough listen.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a new feature: a Conversation with David and Jerry Zucker. In this one-hour, two-minute and five-second piece, the brothers sit together to discuss the origins of the Kentucky Fried Theatre Company and the move into film, sets and locations, thoughts about various skits, cast and performances, testing the film and editing it, moving ahead to Airplane!, influences and thoughts on movie comedies, and other aspects of their careers.

Don’t expect a ton about Kentucky Fried Movie here; the brothers discuss it at times, but the chat goes far beyond the boundaries of that film. I’m fine with that, as we get a nice overview of different aspects of their lives and work in films. The chat moves briskly and delivers a fun discussion of the various topics.

Does the Blu-ray lose anything from the DVD? Yup – it drops “on-set home movies”, talent bios and a “behind the scenes photo gallery”. Those were pretty good additions, so it’s too bad they fail to reappear here.

I've seen less entertaining films than The Kentucky Fried Movie, but not many. The picture wants to be an outrageous and daring comedy, but it only succeeds in appearing stupid and inane. The Blu-ray delivers mediocre visuals along with decent audio and a couple of bonus features. I don’t care for the flick itself and think this ends up as a decent but lackluster presentation of it.

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