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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Johnny Dangerously (1984)

"You shouldn't grab me, Johnny. My mother grabbed me once... ONCE!"
- Danny Vermin (Joe Piscopo)

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: August 25, 2002

Stars: Michael Keaton, Marilu Henner, Griffin Dunne, Joe Piscopo, Maureen Stapleton
Other Stars: Glynnis O'Connor, Dom Deluise, Danny DeVito, Richard Dimitri
Director: Amy Heckerling

Manufacturer: Panasonic Disc Services Corporation
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, adult humor
Run Time: 01h:30m:12s
Release Date: August 27, 2002
UPC: 024543045878
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+A-C+ D

DVD Review

Johnny Dangerously is a noble attempt to spoof gangster pictures. I like gangster movies, and I like comedies, so chances are good I should like Johnny Dangerously, right? Well, yes and no. I enjoyed revisiting this simple mob comedy, especially characters like Roman Moroni, whose thick accent and misunderstanding of the English language accent prevents him from properly pronouncing an onslaught of curse words. This clever gag was a humorous and unique way to dodge an R-rating. While I found slight pleasure in watching the film for the first time in 16 years, I immediately noticed how dated it feels. Mild amusement aside, I believe Johnny Dangerously will have trouble connecting with modern audiences. Even fans of the film may find that it is not all that they remembered.

The film tells the story of how good-natured Johnny Kelly became the powerful crime boss Johnny Dangerously; however, the plot is irrelevant. Director Amy Heckerling is merely attempting to mimic the type of nonsensical humor found in Airplane!. One would think that the gangster genre would be a prime candidate for lampoonery, but Heckerling's film lacks the confident, carefree vibe that made Airplane! such a masterpiece; part of the joy in that spoof was to see the characters act stern and serious amidst hysterical situations. The characters in Johnny Dangerously act as if they are in on the joke, which undermines the sense of fun for the audience. I would refrain from making direct comparisons between the two films if Johnny Dangerously were not such a blatant attempt to recreate the humor of Airplane! with fedoras and Tommy guns.

Seeing as much of the humor falls a bit flat, the lack of narrative flow proves to be bothersome. There is little story or character development, and not much would be needed if more of the slapstick intentions hit home. I found more than half of Johnny Dangerously's jokes to be the kind of feeble attempts at humor where I rolled my eyes, shrugged my shoulders, and hoped that the next joke was going to be better. Sometimes the next joke inspired a hearty laugh; more often it invoked more shoulder shrugging. This inconsistency is most exasperating.

I stand somewhat on the fence with this review. There are moments in Johnny Dangerously that deliver big belly laughs, but they are few and far between. Ultimately, the film boils down to many small laughs and several mighty ones. If this were the only flaw, I would most likely honor the film with a positive review. However, the cheesy 1980s vibe and the often misfired jokes result in a film that feels awkward throughout.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Perhaps it was partially due to my low expectations, but this transfer blew me away. While not reference quality next to recent films, the restoration efforts that went into this 1984 classic are truly amazing. The image is consistently clean and smooth. Colors are balanced well throughout, boasting warm browns, cool blues, and solid blacks. The level of detail is remarkable; I could make out the tiniest intricacies, yet never noticed a distracting amount of video deficiencies. About the only downside is the noticeable amount of film artifacts and grain, which I fully expected. I also noticed the slightest touch of edge enhancement, but only on rare occasions. This transfer offers Johnny Dangerously fans much to be happy about. If I were a bigger fan of the film, I would probably be dancing a jig right now.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrench, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The back cover lists the English soundtrack as stereo, but I have my doubts. Aside from the slightly expansive presence of Weird Al Yankovic's theme song, the entire presentation sounds like a monaural mix spread throughout the soundstage. Either way, the track delivers in terms of fidelity. Both the music and the dialogue exhibit a strong and clean tonal quality. Bass is virtually non-existent, yet provides a rich and tight foundation during several of the musical numbers. Overall, there is nothing to praise and nothing but misleading claims of a stereo track to complain about.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dude, Where's My Car?, Freddy Got Fingered, Hot Shots!, Hot Shots! Part Deux, Mrs. Doubtfire, Office Space, There's Something About Mary
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:42m:034s

Extras Review: The only relevant offering is the film's theatrical trailer, which looks quite good in anamorphic widescreen. It is a unique and effective trailer that does a clear and concise job of selling the film.

The second extra is the irrelevant Fox Flix icon, which features trailers for seven 20th Century Fox films. I strongly believe that making room for this kind of nonsense instead of special features related to Johnny Dangerously is dreadfully wrong.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

As Roman Moroni might say, I hate to be a "fargin' icehole", but Johnny Dangerously is somewhat of a disappointment. The film never quite connects at the level intended, and there are no special features to entice the viewer. About the only positive aspect of this disc is the stunning image transfer, which hardly justifies a purchase. Nevertheless, a rental is probably worthwhile, as the film does contain several gags worth seeing "once... ONCE!"


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