Orgazmo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this double-sided DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though some minor concerns cropped up at times, the transfer usually looked surprisingly good.
For the most part, sharpness was solid. Occasionally I saw some softness in wider shots, but those occurred infrequently. Overall the movie demonstrated good clarity and definition. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I saw a little edge enhancement. Source flaws created periodic distractions. Some examples of specks and grit showed up, though they stayed minor most of the time. I did think a few shots looked grainier than normal.
Of all the different elements, colors fared the best. The movie featured a bright palette that came across well. The hues consistently looked vibrant and dynamic. Blacks also were tight and deep, but shadows looked a little more erratic. Some low-light shots were clear and concise, but others seemed somewhat too dense. Nonetheless, Orgazmo usually looked very good, and this transfer was better than what I expected.
Unfortunately, Orgazmo came with a less satisfying Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. Localization caused problems. The audio showed nice stereo delineation but effects tended to lack the accurate placement. Actually, many of them popped in the correct spots, but more than a few others were murkier. Elements tended to blend together to a degree, and they didn’t present terribly sensible localization. This made the mix mushier than I’d like, especially since the surrounds usually just kicked in vague ambience.
Audio quality also was spotty. Speech remained intelligible and generally distinctive, but many lines were somewhat edgy. Effects showed decent bass and seemed acceptably clean. However, as with the localization, those elements were a little mushy at times. Music seemed more satisfying, as the score and songs presented decent clarity and punch. Overall, the audio was too ill-defined in too many ways to merit a grade above a “C”.
This Special Edition of Orgazmo comes packed with supplements on the double-sided disc. We can watch the movie itself in either its 93-minute theatrical cut or the 95-minute unrated version. I only watched the latter, so I don’t know how the two vary. However, since the original is “NC-17” and the unrated cut doesn’t seem all that daring, I can’t imagine there’s a big difference.
A whopping three audio commentaries show up here. Entitled the “Drunken Commentary”, the first includes writer/director/actor Trey Parker, producer Jason McHugh, “lighting guy” Dave Stotts - the inspiration for a character - actors Stan Sawicki, Dian Bechar, Marcus Vaughn and Andy Kemler, and producer/actor Matt Stone, all of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific piece. This commentary takes its cues from the infamous track for Cannibal!, as the participants much drink whenever someone says “Jesus”, “Heavenly Father” or “Orgazmo”. That was a clever idea the first time, but it doesn’t work well here.
Recorded in November 2001, this one tosses out sporadic notes about the movie. We learn some character notes and remarks about the film’s inspirations. We get a few provocative bits like a discussion about whether or not Ron Jeremy is a jerk.
Unfortunately, much of the track proceeds without much entertainment value. The participants never become quite as wild as during the Cannibal! piece; the commentary degenerates into profanity and laughing after a while, but otherwise the alcohol doesn’t seem to influence it much. Parker likes to make faux pretentious remarks about his acting and directing; those get old very quickly. A surprising amount of dead air occurs as well. This is the best of the three Orgazmo commentaries, but that doesn’t say much. Though it presents some sporadic entertainment and information, it fails to work consistently.
Logically called the “Cast Commentary”, the second track presents McHugh, DVD producer Mattt Potter, associate producer Farrell Timlake, and actors David Dunn, Shayla Laveaux, Masao “Maki” San, Lloyd Kaufman, and Robyn Lynne Raab. The entire group sits together for this running, screen-specific track, though some participants come late. Dave Stotts and Trey Parker pop up briefly at various points as well.
The only insight we get here comes from discussions of the porn industry. We find out the reality behind “stunt cocks” and other background influences that went into Orgazmo. Unfortunately, the rest of the time we get very little information. The participants laugh a lot and talk over each other so we can’t easily tell what they’re saying.
Even when their remarks become intelligible, there’s precious little substance. Much forced jocularity appears, especially from the grating Kaufman. Pretentiously, he often refers to himself as the “elder statesman of independent film”, but he also sees himself as a stand-up comic; he tosses out many lame jokes along the way. This commentary never overcomes its many flaws, and it turns into a tough listen.
Finally, the “Wild Commentary” comes with remarks from Weird Al Yankovic, Kevin Smith, Dave Foley, “John Huston”, “Akira Kurosawa”, Baseketball director Jerry Zucker, “personal stylist” Pam Brady, “professional bear wrestler” Kyle McCulloch, and “bear wrestler handler” Matt Prager. (In reality, McCulloch, Brady and Prager work on South Park.) In this case, I guess “Wild” means “idiotic” and “pointless”, for the commentary usually goes off into dopey tangents.
The trio of Brady, McCulloch and Prager start the commentary with… not much of anything. Their poorly-recorded discussion is tough to understand, but they don’t tell us much anyway. Honestly, they just babble for a while and provide little content.
From there we hear Yankovic as he parodies standard commentaries. He takes the scholarly approach and talks about the film’s historical context and other elements. It’s mildly amusing at best. Foley’s shtick is that he barely watches the movie during his commentary. He gets the recording crew some snacks, cuts his hand and argues with his wife. It’s a self-conscious attempt to be irreverent - hey, a commentary that rarely discusses the movie! - and it doesn’t work.
The usually amusing Smith fares best. He simply tells us a story about his first awareness of Parker and Stone as well as his minor interactions with them. Smith tells good anecdotes, so this segment becomes entertaining. Then we hear from an unnamed party who pretends to be directors John Huston and Akira Kurosawa as they speak from beyond the grave. “Huston” takes credit for the original Orgazmo script and discusses issues related to it, while “Kurosawa” discusses the film’s visual scope. I suppose it’s a quirky idea but it’s not funny.
An exceedingly long gap appears after the end of that segment; in fact, I thought the commentary was finished at that point. However, director Jerry Zucker - who directed Parker and Stone in the dud Baseketball - pops up to complete things. He talks a little about his experiences with the guys and also chats about the problems he perceives in Galaxy Quest. (This sounds like an illogical tangent but it makes more sense in its context.)
We then hear from “the assistant to the head of Rogue Pictures”, which is actually just the same person who impersonated Kurosawa and Huston. He reads a fake memo from Rogue about casting for the movie. It’s just as lame as the other bits. Brady, McCulloch and Prager finish the piece with more inane remarks about very little of consequence. They wrap up this mostly dreadful commentary on the appropriate note of crapitude.
The DVD opens with some Previews. We find ads for Half-Baked, Seed of Chucky, Unleashed and Assault on Precinct 13
At least one Easter egg appears on Side One. Highlight “Languages!” and click left. Then hit “enter” to see a 10-second clip in which Stone tells us we found an Easter egg. Yup - that’s it!
With that we head to Side Two and its extras. 14 Deleted Scenes fill 29 minutes and 21 seconds. Actually, there’s more than 14 cut sequences, as a few extra bits pop up within the various chapters. Some of the pieces fall more into the “outtake” territory as well; for instance, we get a few different takes of Joe as he accepts his ANV award. There’s not much gold here, but a few passable laughs appear – maybe more than in the final flick.
We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Parker and the others who appeared on track 1. Unfortunately, it sounds like the recorded this at the end of their drunken binge. Parker whines that he wants to leave, and the participants mostly just laugh at the material.
Occasionally we hear insights such as “we cut this scene because it was dumb!” Parker also complains that he shouldn’t have been allowed to edit some of the shots. The deleted scenes commentary is a complete waste of time.
A documentary called The Book of Orgazmo comes next. It runs 39 minutes and 12 seconds as it presents movie snippets, archival materials, and recent (circa 2001 or so) interviews. We hear from McHugh, Stone, Parker, Kaufman, Maki, Bachar, Timlake, Ashton, Raab, Dunn, Laveaux, Kemler, Sawicki, and actor Ron Jeremy. The program covers the history of McHugh, Stone and Parker’s work together, the development of Orgazmo, attempts to make it a musical, research, working on the set, comparisons with a porn set, odd parts of the shoot and working with Jeremy, casting issues and Bachar’s reservations, what “Choda Boy” means, and MPAA ratings problems. It also has a few wacky moments, such as when the folks are asked what sexual superpowers they’d like to have.
Unlike the almost pointless audio commentaries, “Book” actually meshes comedy and information pretty well. I like the clips from the early Stone/Parker/McHugh projects, and we get a reasonable number of facts connected to the production. You’ll certainly learn more from this than from the commentaries. Only real disappointment: Ashton is nude during her interview, but we never get a good look at her.
Recorded in September 1998, we get a Dragon Con Interview with Parker. It lasts 33 minutes and 50 seconds and comes with some quirks; technical problems mar the first few minutes of the piece; Parker appears via a remote hookup. After that, things settle, and we hear fans at the convention question Parker about Orgazmo, South Park and some other topics. Some of the South Park queries are interesting since they came during the production of the South Park movie, and I also like Parker’s explanation of why they created Terrance and Philip. Parker’s confusion about Kevin Smith is also amusing, and we get a little more about his run-ins with the MPAA. There’s not a lot of great material here, but it’s a generally solid discussion.
When we check out the two trailers, we find something interesting. The “red band” trailer isn’t special, but the “original 16mm trailer” is very cool. This three-minute and 25-second clip was essentially used to get backing for Orgazmo, so it consists solely of footage created explicitly for it. That makes it unique and cool to see.
A very large collection of Outtakes comes next. It fills a whopping 41 minutes and 40 seconds, as it shows a lot of the usual mistakes and giggling. However, some more interesting material shows up as well. We get a lot of alternate takes and different readings. I admit I got a bit bored with this section after a while, but fans will like the option to see the various renditions of the material.
For raw footage from the set, we head to Behind the Scenes. This 17-minute and 46-second compilation shows video clips taken during the production. We watch them film scenes and plan various elements in this interesting glimpse behind the production.
In the EPK Interviews domain, we get seven minutes and 55 seconds of chat. We hear from Parker, Stone, Bachar, McHugh, and Ashton. They cover basics about the film and the characters. Nothing revealing pops up here, but they neatly encapsulate a few issues like the film’s origins.
45 shots pop up in the Stills Gallery. This area mixes snaps from the set, publicity images, and some design sketches. It’s actually a pretty good array of pictures.
We get more Easter Eggs on Side 2. On the first screen, press left twice from “More” and then hit enter. This shows a 23-second clip of Parker in character with Chasey Lain. For another, click left from “EPK Interviews”. Then press “enter” to see an unusual alternate take. It features Ron Jeremy as Maxxx. All of these come from the footage shot for the demo 16mm trailer I discussed earlier.
When a movie’s funniest bit comes from its title song, you know you’re in for a long night. Fans of South Park who expect similar cleverness and wit from Orgazmo will go away disappointed. You might find a laugh or two here but nothing else, as it lacks inspiration or spirit. The DVD presents pretty good picture with average audio and a long roster of extras. Those are hit or miss – the three commentaries all have significant flaws – but there’s still an abundance of material on display. Unfortunately, the movie itself isn’t good. A limp comedy, Orgazmo has little going for it.