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Paramount Studios presents
Best Defense (1984)

"Mr. Johnson is up and wants to say hi."
- Wylie Cooper (Dudley Moore)

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: January 29, 2004

Stars: Dudley Moore, Eddie Murphy, Kate Capshaw
Other Stars: George Dzundza, Helen Shaver, Tom Noonan
Director: Willard Huyck

MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual situations
Run Time: 01h:33m:54s
Release Date: January 27, 2004
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
F D-CB+ D-

DVD Review

After watching Best Defense, I wanted nothing more than to review it in the same fashion as the illustrious "two word" review of Spinal Tap's Shark Sandwich album. However, I feel that I must exhibit restraint and refrain from using harsh language. For those readers who have not seen This is Spinal Tap and have no idea what I'm talking about, please make that film your next purchase or rental, and please continue reading.

Best Defense is the most painfully unfunny comedy I have ever seen. Dudley Moore stars as Wylie Cooper, a bumbling engineer who is struggling to perfect a military device known as the "Dip Gyro." Jump to two years later, Eddie Murphy stars as T.M. Landry, a U.S. soldier unfortunate enough to be stuck in the tank that houses the faulty Dip Gyro during a military skirmish in Kuwait. The narrative continually jumps between these two time lines with a clumsy awkwardness. This non-linear structure is not merely a failed attempt at clever storytelling, but also a shameless method of inserting Eddie Murphy's scenes earlier in the film, thereby satisfying fans who have only come to see him do his schtick. Fans of the comedian and his other fine work may find themselves drawn to this film based solely on his presence, but I strongly urge anyone against making that mistake. I realize that all good actors make poor career decisions from time to time, but I have no idea what would have possessed Eddie Murphy and Dudley Moore to waste their time with this project. Was the lack of potential not glaringly obvious after they read the horrendous screenplay? Unfortunately, the inadequacy of this film did not stop there. Director Willard Huyck (who also directed Howard the Duck) took this childish screenplay and actually managed to expand on all of its negative elements through his unskilled direction.

Best Defense opens with a pathetic display of soft-core pornography, and it only goes down hill from there. For the next 90 minutes, I was subjected to a barrage of penis jokes, fart jokes, sexual innuendoes, extraneous foul language, and inane screaming. Shortly into the film, I found that my brain went into some sort of auto-protection mode. I believe my mind must have realized the long-term adverse effects that this movie could have had on my psyche, and therefore tuned it out. The funny thing is, I was still able to follow the plot just fine. Nevertheless, even with my mind engaged in this protection mode, I still feel like I lost more brain cells watching this movie than would a junkie on a month-long heroin binge. Best Defense is not merely not entertaining, but actually "anti-entertaining", detracting from entertainment that I once had. Not only will I never get this hour and a half of my life back, but it will also take me quite some time to reacquire the level of entertainment that was robbed from me by watching Best Defense.

Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image transfer looks incredibly dated, even for a 1984 film. It appears that minimal, if any, restoration effort has been put into the original film elements, which look as if they have sat in the dirt for the past twenty years. The print is covered with an abundance of nicks, scrapes and blemishes. Furthermore, the picture lacks fine detail and is plagued with frequently unbalanced colors, both lending a hazy and unnatural characteristic to the image.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The fidelity of the mono soundtrack is quite impressive, sounding more full and robust than many twenty-year-old monaural tracks. Dialogue is clear and distortion-free, and there is adequate bass presence with the music.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only offering is English subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

While there have been far too many awful movies for me to unquestionably regard Best Defense as the worst movie ever made, I hold no reservation in proclaiming it to be one of the top 100 worst movies of all time.


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