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Ryan Polito
Writing Credits:

It was a night of glamour, revelry, tribute and nostalgia as Hollywood's hottest stars joined Hef to celebrate Playboy's golden anniversary! Hosts Drew Carey and Jenny McCarthy take you inside this dazzling affair featuring gorgeous models clad in nothing but body paint; the unveiling of the 50th anniversary Playmate; musical performances by Chicago, Grammy Award winner Blu Cantrell and Nsync's Joey Fatone; comedy from Paul Rodriguez, Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel; and a sexy look back at Playboy's first 50 years! DVD bonus features include additional performances and interviews plus a Painted Ladies featurette!

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Stereo
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/30/2004

• Additional Celebrity Interviews
• Playboy Party Jokes
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Playboy: 50th Anniversary Celebration (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2005)

As a long-time Playboy reader, I must admit I hate the magazine’s “World of Playboy” feature. It feels like a desperate effort to prove the magazine’s hipness as we see parties at the Playboy Mansion with Hef and all sorts of celebrites, some big, but most lame. “World of Playboy” is a useless component that just wastes space.

Playboy’s 50th Anniversary Celebration is the video equivalent of the “World of Playboy”. Unsurprisingly, Celebration spotlights the magazine’s big party to note its 50th anniversary. Hosted by Hef along with help from Jenny McCarthy, the program focuses on shots of the semi-celebrity party-goers, the entertainment, aspects of the Playboy Mansion, and historical segments.

In regard to the entertainment, we get some short comedy routines from Drew Carey, Paul Rodriguez, and Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel. Musical performances come from Chicago, Blu Cantrell, and Joey Fatone. Most of the soundbites stem from chats held by McCarthy during the party, though Hef sits with a few of them, and some others are from separate sessions. We find comments from Pamela Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Tony Curtis, Raquel Welch, Christie Hefner, Sharon Osbourne, Bob Saget, LeRoy Neiman, Barbi Benton, Ryan Seacrest, Jamie Foxx, Lisa Rinna, Alyssa Milano, Kelsey Grammer, Lance Bass, Bill Maher, Melissa Rivers, Jesse Jackson, Michael Feinstein, Sally Kellerman, Roseanne Barr, Eric Roberts, Dick Gregory, Jeffrey Ross, Stephen Dorff, sons Marston and Cooper Hefner, and Michael Clarke Duncan.

Easily the best parts of Celebration stem from the historical segments. A fair amount of this material repeats from 50 Years of Playmates, but a moderate amount of new information pops up as well. The archival clips can be quite good, especially when we see bits like Hef with Mike Wallace during the magazine’s early years.

Otherwise, there’s little to like about Celebration. It adopts an extremely self-congratulatory tone, and the mingling at the party gets quite dull. A bash populated largely by “B”-and-lower-list celebrities doesn’t offer much chance for entertainment. They do little more than babble about the greatness of Hef, and almost all of the chats are inane.

That goes for most of the conversations between Hef and others as well. Actually, his sit-down with Benton is sort of sweet and endearing as they reminisce, but a talk with Dick Gregory is fairly incoherent. Gregory seems to think that his early Sixties performance at a Playboy Club was a turning point in the civil rights movement! Hef’s time with Anderson is also generally nonsensical, though Pam looks better than usual. I normally don’t like her appearance at all, since she works so hard to make herself look like a plastic bimbo. Anderson tones down the makeup here and shows some of the cuteness that first got her into the magazine. And Hef shows he’s still horny - he gropes Pam throughout the whole chat.

Don’t expect any spark from the smattering of musical or comedic performances. Fatone shows that he won’t follow Justin Timberlake to achieve a successful post-‘NSync solo career with his butchering of “Celebrate”. Chicago and Cantrell fail to succeed as well, and the various comedy bits are uniformly unfunny.

Anyone who checks out Celebration in hopes of some good nudity will leave disappointed. We occasionally get shots of models in various states of undress, but these don’t appear often enough to warrant a screening. The camera prefers to focus on the many has-beens and never-wases in the crowd. We had David Hasselhof, Pauly Shore, and Kato Kaelin at the same party and the universe failed to implode? It’s a miracle!

Mostly Celebration presents a long roster of minor celebrities with nothing better to do than make the scene. It moves at a slow pace with little reason to exist other than to promote Playboy. Self-congratulatory and pointless, I can’t imagine anyone will watch this and take much from it.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C-/ Bonus D

Playboy’s 50th Anniversary Celebration appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A perfectly ordinary videotaped feature, Celebration never looked bad, but it never excelled either.

Sharpness depended on the framing. Close-ups came across with good clarity and definition, but wider images tended to lose resolution. Most of the show looked acceptably detailed and concise despite the variations, though. No problems with shimmering occurred, but I noted occasional issues with jagged edges as well as some mild edge enhancement. Source flaws failed to cause concerns.

Colors varied from good to runny. Shots with better lighting displayed nice delineation and clarity. Crowd shots suffered from more murkiness and the hues turned flat and without depth. Colored lighting also was a bit heavy. Blacks were somewhat drab and inky, while low-light shots tended to present a little too much denseness. Celebration remained perfectly watchable and that was about it.

Nothing exciting came from the Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack of Celebration either. Most of the action resided in the front center speaker, as the side channels received little use. A bit of atmosphere spread to the sides, and the music also coursed across the front. Unfortunately, stereo delineation was weak. The imaging remained amorphous and without real definition. This was an unambitious mix that displayed muddy localization.

Audio quality was acceptable and no better. Speech consistently remained natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Effects played a small part and lacked much force, though they didn’t need to do much. Music presented decent clarity but could be murky. The songs suffered from boomy bass and didn’t show strong definition. This was a bland soundtrack.

A few extras round out Celebration. In the Additional Celebrity Interviews domain, we get 11 minutes and 42 seconds more of chats conducted by Jenny McCarthy and John DiResta. McCarthy talks to Melissa Rivers, Evan Marriott, Jack Osbourne, Jesse Jackson, Barbi Benton, Chicago, Barbara Moore, Joyce Nizzari, Lisa Rinna, Victoria Jackson, Kato Kaelin, Chuck McCann, Garry Marshall, and Adam Carolla. DiResta’s chats come with a bunch of unnamed partygoers. More inane comments pop up in this segment, so don’t expect any interesting content.

Next we find Playboy Party Jokes. This 103-second piece features Jeffrey Ross with Playmates Stacy Fuson and Julie McCullough. They read a few jokes from the magazine. It’s a waste of time, though Fuson’s much cuter than I recall her being. Oddly, it tosses in even more sycophantic comments from partygoers Evan Marriott, Kato Kaelin and Jack Osbourne. Did they intentionally pick only the biggest has-beens to feature? Oh wait - they left out Pauly Shore, so I guess not.

Inside the Photo Gallery we get 38 shots. A couple present archival shots, but the vast majority are nothing more than the usual posed celebrity snaps. Only one includes any nudity. Yawn!

The set also offers some trailers. This includes promos for Rita, 50 Years of Playmates, 2005 Video Playmate Calendar, Video Centerfold: 50th Anniversary Playmate Colleen Shannon and Video Centerfold: 2004 Playmate of the Year Carmella DeCesare.

Despite some interesting views of Playboy history, the 50th Anniversary Celebration mostly offers little more than a boring look at a not-very-interesting party. There’s not enough archival material or nudity to redeem this dull recap of the anniversary bash. The DVD presents mediocre picture and audio with only a few fairly useless extras. Unless you just have to see everything related to Playboy, skip this pointless program.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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