Totally Awesome DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Neal Brennan and his team captured the 1980s, but good.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Neal Brennan and his team captured the 1980s, but good.
THE BAD
There is a little too much SNL, drama humor happening here.
THE FEATURE
Totally Awesome is the Scary Movie of 1980s films. It mixes parts of movies like The Karate Kid, Pretty in Pink, Footloose, and other 1980s films to tell the story of Charlie and Lori Gunderson, two kids who move to a new town and try and fit in. A classic 1980s setup to be sure, but it is infused with 20/20 hindsight so that the performances have a very current flare. Everything is overdone with Charlie trying to woo Kimberly away from Kipp Vanderhoff, and Lori vying for the attention of dancing janitor, Max.

Everything culminates and comes full circle like one might expect it to in a 1980s film (Ben Stein even appears as a narrator claiming this film was actually made in the 1980s but it was never released), and ultimately things end up being Totally Awesome.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary

Featuring Tracy Morgan and Writer/Director Neal Brennan these guys don't have any agenda other than to be funny. Brennan talks about shooting all the Ben Stein narration footage last, how those scenes were shot on the same stage as Family Ties, and Tracy Morgan discusses being allowed to improvise. What I think is funny is that it's obvious that both of these guys are funny, yet neither one of them ever tries to compete with one another. They seem like two friends sitting back and watching their movie together, making the usual comments as they go along.

Deleted Scenes

There are 8 deleted scenes on this disc and they have titles like "Wolf Love," "Charlie Stuff" and "Yamagashi Seems Gay." If you like this movie (which chances are if you are reading this review you will), than I highly suggest that you sit back and watch all of these. While some are certainly better than others, all of them are worth a look simply because they seem like they were cut because the point had already been made in the film without them.

Bloopers and Outtakes

Dancing is Hard

An interesting segment that is just one long piece of the dancing scenes from this film. I didn't find this is as funny as I thought I should, mainly because I wasn't sure what was really funny about it. I guess there's the sense that they are making fun of 1980s movies that feature dancing, but maybe (like the Natalie Portman rapping video) I just missed the boat?

Joey Kern is Kipp Vanderhoff

Kipp Vanderhoff: A Nightmare of Condescending Laughter

This is three minutes of Kipp Vanderhoff's laughter which, if you make it through all of it, you'll run a range of emotions. First, I thought it was funny, then I thought it was really funny, then I didn't think it was that funny, and then I turned it off. Something tells me that the creators of this DVD designed this segment to make the viewer do exactly that.

Tracy Morgan: 7 Minutes of Ad Libs

If you like Tracy Morgan you are going to want to watch this. This guy, when he is in his comedic zone, is as good as any performer out there. He is quick with the verbal cues and he just keeps the jokes coming one after another. You have to be very gifted to keep going like he does, riffing on the same theme or idea over an over. All in all, this section proves just how much he adds to this film.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen Format Enhanced for 16:9 TVs. This movie looked like an 80s movie made on a budget. All the stylistic choices, from how the movie was framed, to how the characters were dressed were made to scream 1980s. Sometimes this was a little too overt for my tastes, whereas other times I thought that Brennan and company got everything just right. Judge for your yourself, but don't judge too harshly.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital - English Stereo - English 5.1 Surround. The audio in this film was solid but what really makes it is the soundtrack. There is a mix of dance and popular music that keeps this movie very much within the world it is portraying. In fact, this movie was leveled so well, I only had to turn my television set up a little less than halfway in order to get the audio effect that was intended.
THE PACKAGE
Looking like a mix between The Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing, and Breakin', this front cover is designed to grab your attention and make you want to see this film. Let me just say, it more than does that. The back cover offers up some images from the movie, a description, Special Features, system specs, and a cast list. All in all, simple packaging that easily gets the point of this film across.
THE FINAL WORD
This is a movie by and for the Arrested Development generation. I feel that the makers of this film really miss the 1980s, however they also can't help but laugh at those movies. So what do they do? They recreate their favorite films in such a way that they can reconstruct them, showing of course how melodramatic and poor the acting was in certain scenes that are central to those movie's plots. This is becoming a common device that I feel first caught fire among Adult Swim type cartoons, made it's way into TV, and is slowly starting to effect feature films.

All in all, Totally Awesome is a funny movie that takes the films from the youths of many 30 and 40 year olds and upends them in the best of ways. This is a movie that never takes itself too seriously, lest it become the kind of movie it is lampooning.

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