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HBO presents
Big Stan (2007)

"Pain is an interpretation."
- The Master (David Carradine)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: April 03, 2009

Stars: Rob Schneider, David Carradine, Jennifer Morrison, Scott Wilson, Richard Kind, Sally Kirkland, M. Emmet Walsh, Henry Gibson
Other Stars: Kevin Gage, Bob Sapp, Brandon T. Jackson, Dan Haggerty, Richard Riehle, Marcia Wallace
Director: Rob Schneider

MPAA Rating: R for Violence
Run Time: 01h:39m:00s
Release Date: March 24, 2009
UPC: 883929046959
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-B+B B+

DVD Review

The movie did not evoke anything close to high expectations. A movie directed by a Saturday Night Live alum, a prison comedy with an oddball cast at that, would lead one to actually expect the worst kind of disposable comedy, might make you wonder whether that 99 minutes could be put to better use updating a Facebook page or something. Rob Schneider (the alum) has had a checkered career and often falls in the category of providing occasional large laughs in small parts in films that star others. When he is the star, and I am talking about you The Animal, there is a definite hit or miss aspect. As former SNLers go, he falls more in the David Spade level than the Adam Sandler realm. However, each end of the range has its good and bad points. Some of Spade's films can be very funny and sharp, while almost all of Sandler's films are relatively unfunny and dull. It's really all a matter of taste.

Here Schneider takes on the task of starring, writing, directing, and producing. And, by golly, he acquits himself fairly well in each category. The movie has a good, solid professional quality that takes it a cut above the typical low brow comedy. The performances are reasonably rich, as the actors roll through the story with a wink and a nod. David Carradine takes another run at Kwai Chang Caine as a mysterious martial artist with some odd philosophies. Jennifer Morrison is very cute and funny as the wife Mindy, who is a big leap away from the doldrums of her role as the earnet young Dr. Allison Cameron on House. The cast is filled out with an intriguing gang of faces, including Scott Wilson as the warden, Sally Kirkland as a jury foreman, and Richard Kind and M. Emmett Walsh as lawyers. Also turning up in cameos are television veteran Dan Haggerty (former Grizzly Adams) and Marcia Wallace (former Carol on Bob Newhart). Character acting legend Henry Gibson puts in a great supporting performance as the clichéd old con at the prison, along with former football player and martial artist Bob Sapp.

The story is about a real estate con man Stan, who is convicted of fraud and sent to prison for a mandatory 3- to 5-year sentence. He manages to bribe the judge to delay his incarceration until he can prepare for prison life. He attempts to become a fighter and ultimately hires "The Master," an apparently homeless martial arts guru to train him. Once in prison, Stan is blackmailed by the warden, has to protect himself and others, and ultimately reform his environment. Somehow, the film doesn't devolve into complete absurdity, managing to maintain its charm despite an occasionally jarring mixture of scatology and violence. The screenplay is kind of mix of The Longest Yard and Karate Kid, with a dash of "Epic Martial Arts Movie" thrown in.

The stunts are well conceived and executed, and Schneider is quite believable in his turn as sniveling wimp turned Kung Fu master. The whole things moves very quickly and with a lot of gusto. Josh Lieb's script is very crisp and funny, with some killer lines and outrageous scenarios. There is an attempt to go a bit deeper with story—some stuff about learning tolerance or growing as a human or some such—but forget about that, and laugh at the joks about the anus with teeth and punches to the gut.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There is a nice enough image transfer on Big Stan; one might say was more than it deserved. Not much damage or distortion to be seen; crisp and colorful with very good coverage and detail.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Big Stan comes with an effective Dolby Digital 5.1. A few nicely contrived ambient effects and a very well-defined stereo span make for a solid sound experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Rob Schneider, actor Buddy Lewis and actor Salvator Xuereb
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Odds & Ends: Hilarious Outtakes from the Cast and Crew
Extras Review: Nice little documentary about the making of the film. Accompanying that is a selection of goofs and outtakes. It's interesting how earnest these professionals are when making a ridiculous comedy like Big Stan. From the stunts, to set-ups, to costumes, to special effects, everybody puts in a solid effort to make this as good a film as it could be. The audio commentary is pretty darn funny too, with Rob Schneider riffing humorously on himself and the production with two of the character actors, Buddy Lewis and Salvator Xuereb. He does note some potential extras that did not make the DVD.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

This type of film is not for everybody. If you want a few bawdy and awful laughs, they can be found in Big Stan. Superior to a lot of films of its ilk, Rob Scheider and a great cast make a good effort to amuse you.


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