05/30/2016  
Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Josh Duhamel Celebrates Memorial Day by Helping Veteran...
'Nashville': 12 Best Music Moments From TV Series ...
The Voice Finale: Alisan Porter Wins Season 10 ...
Pink's Hairstylist on Her Billboard Music Awards Look...
Adele's Send My Love to Your New Lover video: Director ...
Bryan Cranston Mesmerizes as LBJ in HBO's 'All the Way'...
Kristin Chenoweth takes on a different kind of role ...
Survivor: Kaoh Rong: And the winner is... ...
Ghostbusters Are Desperately Trying to Save New York Ci...
The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' Turns 50: How Brian Wilson...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

TH!INKFilm presents
The Aristocrats (2005)

"It kind of makes its own gravy, this joke."
- Michael McKean

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: January 23, 2006

Stars: Jason Alexander, Hank Azaria, Lewis Black, Drew Carey, George Carlin, Billy Connolly, Andy Dick, Phyllis Diller, Whoopi Goldberg, Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Idle, Bill Maher, Howie Mandel, Paul Reiser, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart
Other Stars: Dana Gould, Rip Taylor, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Larry Storch, Fred Willard, Eddie Izzard, Don Rickles, Emo Philips
Director: Paul Provenza

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (almost unimaginable profanity)
Run Time: 01h:28m:13s
Release Date: January 24, 2006
UPC: 821575540759
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ ABC+ B+

DVD Review

The thing is, the joke itself isn't even that funny. And the title, being the punchline, kind of gives away the store. This is a movie about a single joke, ostensibly; but it's in fact about the history of comedy and entertainment, about the power of language, about mutable social standards, and about just what sort of person has an incessant need to make us laugh, for a living. Goodness knows you don't want to wake Grandma and the kids for this one, and you have to be prepared for a lot of stuff that's just unbelievably, almost unimaginably offensive. (The movie is unrated, but the menus on this DVD alone would justify slapping the feature with an NC-17.) But if you are, the rewards of The Aristocrats are many, and it's deeply hilarious and thought-provoking in all kinds of ways.

So a guy walks into a talent agent's office, and says: "Have I got an act for you!" The agent asks him to tell him about it; the guy proceeds to describe a litany of onstage transgressive behaviors: incest, bestiality, coprophilia, and on and on, in astonishing permutations that I just can't describe if we're going to keep dOc a family-friendly website. When he's done, the agent says: "That's a hell of an act. What do you call it?" "The Aristocrats!"

The joke is the stuff of comedy clubs after hours, a bit handed down when the rest of us have gone home—and the fun of it isn't the destination, but the journey. That is, it's all about stretching the joke out as long as you can, and coming up with the most offensive stuff you can, making it sort of a simple tune on which musicians with potty mouths instead of saxophones can riff, without having to care about whether or not it's going to play in Peoria. Comics Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette made the picture, and as members of the fraternity, got the brightest lights in comedy to sit for interviews. And so we get many retellings of the joke, along with considerations of its pedigree, and asides on what makes it funny—the joke becomes sort of a funhouse mirror held up to nature, and how you tell the joke and what you choose to emphasize tells us a whole lot about who you are. The most vengeful, and bordering on satanic, is Bob Saget, who tells it with dangerously gleeful relish—in some respect, however, that may be the only appropriate response to all those years on Full House. George Carlin is the eminence grise; Phyllis Diller, the link to an earlier era. Whoopi Goldberg and Rita Rudner speculate on whether or not it's a guys' joke, and Chris Rock on whether or not it's a white guys' joke.

Many of the faces are familiar, but some of the best stuff comes from those who aren't necessarily identifiable on a first-name basis. These include Chris Albrecht, the president of HBO, and Dana Gould, a writer on The Simpsons, and maybe my favorite standup of all time. And even if you think you've seen it all and are world weary about comedy and show business, there's a risible kick from watching Jason Alexander work blue, or to hearing Howie Mandel discuss the particular intimacies of the female anatomy at length. You may no longer believe that imitation is the highest form of flattery once you hear Kevin Pollak do the joke as Christopher Walken telling it to James Lipton, or Mario Cantone do it as Liza Minnelli; you'll want both to laugh and to call Child Protective Services when you see Andy Richter tell it to his infant son.

It all amounts to a kind of shadow history of show business, reaching back to vaudeville, up through and beyond South Park—even Cartman tells a version here—and we're poignantly asked to consider whether or not ethnicity has replaced sexuality as the great taboo we're not allowed to discuss. And the power of comedy to deflate and to heal is nowhere more evident than in the tale of (can you believe it?) Gilbert Gottfried, while performing at a Friars Club roast of Hugh Hefner, just three weeks after the 9/11 attacks. He rips into the joke, and letting the secret out of the back room and into the spotlight seemed to have had an almost cathartic power—the laughter spills from the audience not because it's the funniest joke ever, but at that time, you had to be able to laugh again at something. It's a pistol of a movie, and it's intentionally incredibly offensive. So its appeal may be limited, and its audience self-selecting—but if you've read this far, you really owe it to yourself to check it out, even if you've got to bust out the headphones to listen to it.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Much of this looks like shaky old home movies, which is sort of appropriate—anything too polished would be all wrong for the subject matter, and the transfer to DVD is sufficient.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track seems a tad excessive, and there's occasionally too much static, but that's to be expected with a movie shot under these circumstances. Also, there are occasional sync problems, particularly with Paul Reiser.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring When Standup Stood Up, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till
21 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: An informative and very funny package of extras. Twenty-one deleted scenes (01h:30m:12s) run longer than the feature—they include interviews with some who didn't make the final cut (including Terry Gilliam and Ron Jeremy), extended riffs from those in the film (including Jon Stewart, who refuses to tell the joke), and the cherry on the sundae is (no joke) Love Theme from The Aristocrats. Provenza and Jillette vie for time on the commentary track, and they're almost a little manic, but there's some terrific stuff here. They explain why Billy the Mime wore a microphone pack while doing his rendition of the joke (to capture the laughter of bystanders), go over the elaborate response to the movie from Christian websites, attest to Saget's sweetness in real life, and speculate as to whether or not Hank Azaria is our Peter Sellers.

Somebody went wild at the editing bay and came up with The Aristocrats do "The Aristocrats" (05m:19s), the joke all the way through in tag-team fashion. For Johnny Carson (02m:05s) is a sweet if foul-mouthed tribute, with Larry Miller telling Carson's favorite joke, and Dana Gould doing a great Carson, Johnny telling the aristocrats joke. Behind the Green Room Door (16m:08s) features other favorite jokes from Miller, Carlin, Reiser, and others, and you'll also find what are billed as contest winners (10m:04s)—I assume that the producers ran some sort of competition for best versions of the joke from fans, and one of them here is live action, the other animated. Provenza and Jillette also contribute liner notes.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

The Aristocrats is at least as offensive as you might imagine, and almost certainly more so. No doubt there are plenty of people out there who will be put off right away by the notion of some of our most beloved comedians—Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg—working blue, and who won't be able to see past the cascades of profanity, and vulgarity that's frequently jaw-dropping. But if you're up for it, you get to be in on the secret, and the movie is an almost accidental meditation on social mores and shibboleths, on changing notions of gender and ethnicity, and a chance to speculate on just what sort of psychological damage Saget might have inflicted on Ashley and Mary-Kate between takes.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

movie, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, television, nashville, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, music, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, hbo, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked, survivor: kaoh-rong, reality, michelle fitzgerald, aubry, tai, jeff probst, comedy remake, ghostbusters, melissa mccarthy, kristen wiig, kate mckinnon, leslie jones, beach boys, pet sounds, brian wilson, bob dylan, blonde on blonde, cannes film festival, selena gomez, beyonce, crazy in love, lemonade, sorry, donÕt hurt yourself, daddy lessons, dancing with the stars, nyle dimarco, bruno tonioli, carrie ann inaba, len goodman, live! with kelly and michael, kelly ripa michael strahan, beyoncˇ, jay z, rachel roy, cheating, prince, little red corvette, purple rain, linus and lucy, the bourne supremacy, the bourne ultimatum, matt damon, alicia vikander, vincent cassel, tommy lee jones, julia stiles, paul greengrass, game of thrones, sansa, ramsay bolton, theron greyjoy, reek, petyr baelish, cersei, jaime, stephen colbert, hillary clinton, carnegie deli, the late show with stepen colbert, jungle book, disney, neel sethi, bill murray, rudyard kipling, captain america: civil war, captain america, iron man, black panther, scarlet witch, the jungle book, virtual productions, avatar, gravity, jon favreau, fantasy, james cameron, avatar sequels, avatar 2, christmas 2018, movies, tribeca film festival, the first monday in may, andrew rossi, justin bieber, anna wintour, met gala, 38 interactive and virtual-reality exhibits, the bomb, the meddler, j.j. abrams, chris rock, tom hanks, john oliver, elvis & nixon, mtv movie awards, dwayne johnson, kevin hart, warner bros. studios, will smith, suicide squad, jared leto, margot robbie, cara delevingne, kiss, freedom to rock, 35 date tour, july 7, caleb johnson, dead daisies, kiss online, merle haggard, died, okie from muskogee, sing me back, mama tried, the bakersfield sound, country music. willie nelson, waylon jennings, gram parsons, eric church, hungry eyes, jimmy fallon, the boss, brand new key, x gonna give it to ya, miles ahead, don cheadle, miles davis, rock and roll hall of fame, ewan mcgregor, michael stuhbarg, lakeith lee stanfield, house of lies

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store