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Anchor Bay presents
Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)

"Well, that finished him as a lawyer, at least a working lawyer. And some of it mayhave been my fault. Perhaps I was not the kind of friend in court that Lazlo needed."
- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Bill Murray)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 10, 2000

Stars: Bill Murray, Peter Boyle
Other Stars: Bruno Kirby, Rene Auberjonois, R.G. Armstrong, Danny Goldman, Rafael Campos, Craig T. Nelson
Director: Art Linson

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: R for (language, violence, drug and alcohol abuse)
Run Time: 01h:39m:10s
Release Date: January 11, 2000
UPC: 013131094398
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CA-B+ D

DVD Review

I feel uncomfortable reviewing a Hunter S. Thompson movie without copious amounts of liquor anddrugs and some heavy weaponry by my side, but I'll try to soldier on as best I can.

Where the Buffalo Roam is a picture of the drug and alcohol-addled adventures of gonzojournalist Hunter S. Thompson (Bill Murray) and his attorney, Carl Lazlo (Peter Boyle). Based onThompson's eulogy for his real-life attorney Oscar Acosta in Rolling Stone, "The BansheeScreams for Buffalo Meat," the film covers the years 1968 to 1972 from Thompson'sperspective. We first meet Lazlo as he defends drug defendants in San Francisco. When Thompsonshows up to write an article about Lazlo the court soon erupts into chaos and Lazlo finds himself injail. Thompson keeps getting assignments from long-suffering editor Marty Lewis (a suitablyneurotic Bruno Kirby), from the Super Bowl in 1972 to the presidential campaign trail. Lazlo keepsshowing up unexpectedly, with ever more bizarre plans, including gunrunning and setting up a drug-fueled republic out in the desert. When Hunter S. Thompson is your voice of reason, you knowyou're waaaaay off the deep end.

Boyle is excellent as Lazlo, with conviction burning from the get-go that believably develops intoobsession and mania. Murray is disappointing as Thompson, restricted to doing a halfhearted versionof his usual shtick. He makes Thompson come across as a complete fraud. Craig T. Nelson has anamusing cameo as a twitchy cop being cross-examined by Lazlo. The film is littered with referencesto Thompson, such as graffiti on a wall which reads "Fear and Loathing", which proves moredistracting than humorous.

The film doesn't work too well as a comedy, especially at a distance of two decades, relying toomuch on sophomoric drug and alcohol humor that isn't even that good to begin with. One funny butclichéd bit along those lines involves Thompson giving the uptight reporter Harris, of the Post (ReneAuberjonois), unspecified drugs as a headache remedy: "I've never had any complaints about theblue ones." Harris soon dissolves into an ecstasy of giggling and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. While masquerading as Harris, Thompson manages to have a completely whacked-out interview withRichard Nixon in a mens' room.

In all, this is a rather disappointing picture. For some reason, Hunter S. Thompson sounds like he'dbe a pretty funny subject for a movie, but he really isn't. If Bill Murray can't make a guy look funny,well, then he's best off with copious amounts of drugs and liquor.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay's anamorphic transfer is quite good. The opening stock footage of buffaloes is soft andgrainy but the feature proper is sharp and crisp with good colors and excellent detail. Blacks are aboutaverage. The source print is impeccable and looks gorgeous throughout. Video bitrates run between6 and 7 Mbps through much of the film.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono sound is perfectly adequate for this dialogue-heavy film. The gunshots come acrossa little weak, but there is no hiss or distortion to be heard in either the dialogue or the Neil Youngscore.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The sole extra is an extensive biography of Thompson, who also acted as consultant for the film andshot off lots of guns on the set. It includes a selected bibliography. The chaptering is only fair;several of the chapters run over 15 minutes in length. No subtitles are included, as is expected fromAnchor Bay, nor is any trailer.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

A not-terribly-funny comedy that relies too much on drugs and alcohol to have aged very gracefully. Anchor Bay nonetheless gives it a nice anamorphic transfer so it's not likely to look any better ifyou're a fan of the film—but the appeal is limited to Thompson devotees.

 


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