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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Cast:
Ashton Kutcher, Ryan Pinkston, Al Shearer, Dax Shepard

Synopsis:
They're prettier, wealthier, and they get into the best parties. They're celebrities. But what they're not is better than us. That's precisely why watching them get Punk'd feels so damn good! Watch as host Ashton Kutcher lets it fly with merciless pranks and practical jokes on unwitting celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Kelly Osbourne and Pink. This 2-disc set includes the complete first season of Punk'd, as well as deleted scenes and bonus footage. Somewhere amidst the home repossession, redneck-in-law houseguests and makeovers from hell, there is a lesson to be learned here: keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and Ashton and the Punk'd crew under surveillance.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
None
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 157 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 1/20/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Also Available From MTV
• Download & Share
• Trailers
• Never Before Seen Footage: "Young Executive" & "Blind Tattoo"


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EQUIPMENT
TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.

RELATED REVIEWS


Punk'd: The Complete First Season (2003)

Reviewed by David Williams (February 13, 2004)

Ashton Kutcher is the unlikely superstar who burst onto the scene a few years back in the surprise Fox hit, “That 70’s Show”, as well as feature films like Dude, Where’s My Car? Kutcher took Hollywood by storm, enjoyed his instant success, and lived the life of a young, good-looking, and fabulously rich megastar. However, one thing Kutcher didn’t do is lose himself in the hustle of bustle of Hollyweird, as he seemingly remained unimpressed with the fame and celebrity of himself, or others like him. It’s because of this cavalier attitude that MTV armed Kutcher with a big budget and lots of cameras and let him run wild in order to play pranks on all of his famous friends. Acting talents and personal opinions aside, Kutcher’s personality seems to one of a very likeable and fun-loving smartass … and for the type of show Punk’d became, it works perfectly.

The show was an instant hit for MTV and Kutcher and company single-handedly reinvented and reintroduced “Candid Camera” to the current crop of the MTV generation. It was something that they could all immediately relate to and connect with and Kutcher picked marks that were, for the most part, instantly recognizable. By going after such big name targets, it made people want to tune in to see who Kutcher would “punk” next and what ends he and his crew would go to in order to embarrass them or put them in an unusually stressful and/or odd situation. The celebrity reactions, while predictable, were still funny … and when Kutcher showed up to let them off the hook, the sense of “angered” disbelief/relief was palpable.

There’s no sense in going into great detail on all of the punks, as they aren’t elaborate enough to warrant pages upon pages of explanation. I also feel that the vast majority of you reading this review have seen at least one episode of the show and know what to expect from the majority of the pranks. Paramount’s two-disc boxed set contains all eight episodes from the inaugural season of the show and included the following:

- Disc One -

Episode One

My Assistant: Frankie Muniz is the recipient of the first televised “punk”, as he is led to believe that his $250,000 car was stolen by a valet. He’s also pitched a terrible screenplay that he respectfully tells them he loves and he chats with the car thief on his cell phone.

Repossessed (Deleted Footage Included): Justin Timberlake is fooled into thinking that his $8 million dollar home has been repossessed by the government because of back taxes that he’s told he owes and hasn’t paid.

VH1 Big In 2002 Awards (Deleted Footage Included): Young Ryan Pinkston interviews celebrities on the red carpet from the VH1 gala and absolutely brutalizes them with some hilarious questions. Celebrities interviewed include Ray Liotta, Christina Aguilera, Denise Richards, Tori Amos, Eddie Griffin, and others.

Episode Two

Shopping Spree: Eliza Dushku gets busted for shoplifting in a trendy LA clothing store.

Crib Crashers (Deleted Footage Included): Mandy Moore is appalled when she is led to believe that a trailer she and Todd Oldham are redecorating is demolished. She is told that it’s her fault that the person’s home was destroyed.

He Got Game: A cocky boxer is brought back down to earth when he thinks he’s fixing to have to fight Oscar De Lay Hoya.

Episode Three

Naked Shopper: Jessica Alba gets slightly perturbed when she is bothered constantly by a naked shopper (Dax Shepard) who wants to talk and talk and talk.

Wilmer’s Car (Multi-Angle Footage Included): Wilmer Valderrama is in love with his Escalade and he devastated when it’s destroyed by a “jealous boyfriend” of one of Ashton’s female conquests who thinks that the Escalade belongs to Kutcher.

Housesitter (Deleted Footage Included): Potential assistants for Kutcher must make it through a day of babysitting Tom Arnold’s bratty kid and other horrors.

Episode Four

Diesel Red Carpet: Ryan Pinkston returns to the red carpet and once again puts celebrities on the spot with his hard-hitting questions. Celebrities include Danny Masterson, Erika Christensen, Eric Balfour, Pauly Shore, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, and others.

Wag The Dog: Justin Timberlake wants to return the favor from earlier in the season and punk Kelly Osbourne. In this episode, Kelly gets advice from some “image consultants” who think she could revitalize her career by becoming more and more like Christina Aguilera.

Locksmith Larceny (Deleted Footage Included): Three locksmiths find themselves punk’d when they are conned into opening up a store and then framed for burglary.

Episode Five

Metal Detector – Part One: Celebrities wanting to get into MTV studios are treated pretty rudely by some of the Punk’d crew posing as security guards.

Craps Game (Deleted Footage Included): In one of the funniest bits to ever air, Seth Green finds himself in quite a bind when federal officers bust Ashton’s craps game and they approach Green to see if he’d be willing to rat out the others involved in the game in order to save his own skin.

Tattoo You (Deleted Footage Included): A girl’s jealous boyfriend gets quite upset when Dax continually flirts with her while posing as a tattoo artist.

- Disc Two -

Episode Six

Watch My Kid: An unsuspecting Jessica Biel gets punk’d when she agrees to watch a fan’s kid for a few moments. The kid is pretty rude to Jessica and her friends and when the boy’s father shows back up, he accuses Jessica of swearing around his kid and mistreating him.

RV Park (Deleted Footage Included): Jessica Simpson’s long-lost redneck “relatives” show up in LA by parking their RV in the driveway of Simpson and her husband, Nick Lachey’s home. The “relatives” claim they are there to help her career and Lachey gets pretty perturbed when they refuse to leave and stay somewhere more appropriate.

No Keys For You: Al Shearer and Dax Shepard pose as valets at a local LA hot spot and they treat customers wanting their keys back pretty shoddily.

Episode Seven

Metal Detector – Part Two (Deleted Footage Included): More celebrities attempting to get into the MTV offices are given the third-degree by MTV “security guards”.

Pinching Pink (Deleted Footage Included): Pink is punk’d by her boyfriend, BMX’er Carey Hart, when he names her as an accomplice in a stolen motorcycle scheme.

Drinking Games (Deleted Footage Included): Stephen Dorff is stiffed for a large bar tab when a fan claims to be buying drinks for he and his friends and then stiff him with an $8000 tab.

Episode Eight

Hit & Run (Deleted Footage Included): Rosario Dawson finds herself in the middle of a punk when the limo that she is riding in hits a pedestrian.

Britney Spears: Britney and the Punk’d crew attempt to punk Kutcher, but he turns the table on his crew when he gets Britney to go along with him and punk his crew.

NFL Challenge (Deleted Footage Included): The Punk’d crew pisses off some NFL players at a golf tournament. Players featured include Jerome Bettis, Jeff Garcia, and Rod Smith.

The first season of the show was refreshing from a programming standpoint, but like most anything else, it contained some inconsistent moments. The pranks that worked (admittedly, the vast majority of them), worked marvelously, while the ones that weren’t quite as interesting went over like a lead balloon (with me, anyway). However, good punk or not, Kutcher goes after all of his high profile marks like a rabid pit bull and regardless of who they are - or who they think they are - Kutcher shows no mercy and gets his rocks off by watching his celebrity peers sweat. No mark is too big or too high-and-mighty as far as Kutcher is concerned and it was fun watching him set up such elaborate traps for his Hollywood pals.

Punk’d works well because Kutcher is good at what he does, he absolutely loves his “job”, and he has surrounded himself with a great supporting cast to pull off all of the elaborate high jinks. The bits are long enough to be involving and short enough to be interesting … and it doesn’t hurt that we all enjoy seeing something bad/unusual/awkward happening to someone else … especially when that someone is a celebrity.


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

Punk’d is a pretty simple show to review as far as the audio and visual elements are concerned since the show is shot almost entirely on hidden or hand-held cameras in all sorts of odd and non-descript locations. The DVD features Punk’d in it televised aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and doesn’t look much different than it does on MTV. However, the amateurish nature of the photography fits the show like a glove and fans will definitely know what to expect when they pop these DVDs into their players.

The sharpness and detail of the various bits and episodes vary wildly depending upon the lighting, location, and the type/size of camera used. Outdoor pranks usually come off as the best looking of the bunch, while indoor punks in restaurants and the like exhibited a lot more noticeable grain and murkiness. Colors were warm and accurate and exhibited no signs of smearing or bleeding during any of the first season episodes, while fleshtones and black levels came across respectable as well.

Issues with the transfer mainly manifested themselves in the aforementioned grainy footage, as well as a bit of compression artifacting. One of the punks (Mandy Moore) exhibited some rather unusual streaking problems, but they seemed to be related more to a hardware malfunction than a transfer issue since the same issues didn’t show up in any other episode. Other than that however, things are pretty much as expected and Paramount has given Punk’d: The Complete First Season a very serviceable transfer.

Honestly, I don’t see the need to explore the video transfer any further here. As I stated at the outset, fans already know what to expect from this type of show and Paramount’s transfer delivers about as good a picture as you’re going to get considering the material. Nice job.

Just as the video transfer for Punk’d is rather unassuming, so goes the audio transfer. Presented in its broadcast mix of Dolby Digital 2.0, the show sounds identical to what most of you have heard on MTV. There’s nothing overtly impressive about the mix, although it does sound surprisingly crisp and clear considering the source(s). There were obviously some moments more muffled than others, but for an entire season, those moments were surprisingly few and far between.

The music and dialogue in the pranks were serviceable and while there were occasional problems with the audio fading in and out, as I stated before, the audio is pretty clean when taken as a whole. I don’t really know what else to say about Paramount’s transfer, as “hidden camera prank show” seems to sum the whole package up pretty well.

The show is uncensored from a profanity standpoint, but this isn’t really a big selling point to me one way or the other. Also, Paramount has decided not to include any subtitles or closed-captioning for the series. Unfortunate for those of you who may require it, but that’s the way it is.

Paramount has included a few extras on this two-disc edition of Punk’d and Audio Commentaries featuring Kutcher, Dax Shepard, and co-creator Jason Goldberg are the main event. The commentary isn’t really about any specific punk or how it was set up more than it was an opportunity for the trio to get together and act like a bunch of juveniles in front of a microphone. I can’t say that I really expected any different, but I was hoping that Kutcher could calm down for just a few moments and maybe go a bit deeper into the process, as I’m sure it can be very elaborate depending on the punk. While the commentary was somewhat disappointing to me personally, those of you think life can’t get any better than Kutcher and fart jokes are going to really enjoy it.

There are also some Deleted Scenes included throughout the first season (and on both discs), but Paramount has come up with a ridiculous way to implement them. Get this; in order to view the deleted footage, you must activate them via the menu and there will be an icon of a helicopter that will pop up at various points during the show … by pressing –ENTER-, you will then be taken to the scene. Obviously, when the scene’s over, you’re taken back to the actual episode at the point in which you left it. While there’s some decent deleted material throughout the first season, the implementation of it was pathetic and it’s a shame that there’s no easier way to access it.

Also Available From MTV (4:18) is nothing more than an extended trailer for other MTV DVDs, while Download And Share (0:09) is a profanity-laced “PSA” from Ashton Kutcher to those who would pirate the footage contained on these DVDs.

Finishing up the rather weak roster of extras are two bits that were never shown on TV. We get Never Before Seen Footage: Young Executive (3:48 – Ryan Pinkston, the young 10-year-old seen in certain punks, runs MTV for a day and interviews candidates for studio internships) and Never Before Seen Footage: Blind Tattoo (3:13 – Al Shearer plays a blind tattoo artist). The “Young Executive” bit was pretty funny, while the “Tattoo” bit was pretty predictable. Nice additions to the set, but I’m sure more exists and for whatever reason, was left out.

Punk’d was an admittedly a funny show during its first season even though the “punks” were pretty much hit-and-miss. However, Punk’d wears on you rather quickly and like most things MTV gets their hands on, they tend to run the wheels off of it and jam it down your throat at every turn. Even so, and regardless of your thoughts on the often annoying Kutcher, there’s nothing better than seeing a high-and-mighty, filthy-rich celebrity get the rug unknowingly yanked out from under them and Kutcher pulls it all off with the sensibility and timing of a cold-blooded assassin and makes the show more enjoyable had someone else been at the helm.

Kutcher made a wise decision by leaving while the show was still popular (only two seasons were filmed) and tidily avoided the pitfalls of the vast majority of other MTV shows. However, Paramount’s DVD set for the show’s inaugural season serves to prove that two seasons may have been a little premature … even for an MTV show. With discounters offering up the set for $20 or less, Punk’d: The Complete First Season comes highly recommended.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9354 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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