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HBO presents
Dane Cook: Vicious Circle (2006)

"There's so many things that I want to let you guys into my world about."
- Dane Cook

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 27, 2006

Stars: Dane Cook
Director: Marty Callner

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language and humor)
Run Time: 03h:47m:14s
Release Date: November 28, 2006
UPC: 026359371820
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Dane Cook is not a comedian. He's gone beyond being a comedian, as he's instead become a bona fide phenomenon. Cook is basically a stand-up version of frat boy comedies like Van Wilder, winning over those who like their humor quick and easy. Unfortunately, this usually means they like it mindless as well, relying on more visual, gross-out gags than anything that involves any semblance of wit or intelligence. This also means that the masses will flock to such material, and Cook is so popular now, he's already at the "media backlash" phase of his career.

The press has been far from kind to Cook in recent weeks, citing that much of his material is awfully close to that of comedian Louis C.K., and it's difficult to argue with them. My first experience with Cook was during his hosting stints on Saturday Night Live, and his elongated monologues were instant turn-offs. Still, I didn't feel right despising this guy after witnessing such a small sample of his routine. With that I ventured into his 2006 HBO comedy special, Dane Cook: Vicious Circle. Thanks to HBO, I not only got to give him a full-fledged chance to show off his stuff, but I got to do so in an extended, two-hour-plus version.

The magnitude of Cook's cult following presents itself as soon as the program begins. He makes his way to the stage of the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston like a champion pro wrestler, working the chanting crowd with all he's got, complete with high fives all around the circular stage. Cook wastes no time delving into his act, telling the story of living with his friend Matt, who goes ballistic when his ice cream is missing from the freezer. Throughout the set, we get talk about a variety of topics, covering the benefits of a well-placed lie, and musing about how cleansing it is for a man to cry. This isn't exactly thought-provoking, deep stuff, but any "dude" out there can relate to what Dane's selling. The "crying" segment is actually quite funny, especially when he refers to the gasping cry, but Cook never comes close to being this funny during the rest of the program.

You've got to hand it to Cook; this guy is full of energy. He fully gives up his body for the sake of his comedy, contorting it and throwing himself across the stage as if he were auditioning for Cirque du Soleil. Unfortunately, I couldn't help but think that Cook's physical energy is a substitute for his lack of actual comedic talent. The frustrating thing is, he doesn't come across as a gimmicky guy along the lines of any of those "Blue Collar Comedy" dunces. If he does, one day, realize that he has more to give as a comedian, we might finally witness something special. As he is now, though, Cook's appeal might never stray from teenagers' bedrooms and college campuses everywhere.

If you're one of the large Dane Cook following, you'll get plenty of mileage out of this set, especially the longer version on Disc 2. We get more than simply extended footage of bits from the HBO version, in the form of a slew of uncut bonus jokes.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is impressive. Contrast and black levels are spot-on, while the images are crisp and sharp. Flesh tones remain accurate throughout, while the stage lighting and other colors are well rendered. There's nothing as far as blemishes go, with no dirt or grain to be seen.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The only audio option is Dolby Digital 2.0, which suits this dialogue-driven presentation just fine. Nearly everything stays up front, with Cook's voice remaining crisp and clear during the entire program. Music bookends the performance and benefits from the track's solid bass presence.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 33 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 TV Spots/Teasers
9 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: While the longer version of Vicious Circle is an extra in its own right, the features on Disc 2 includes the uncut sequences separate from this new cut. There's also the Boston Cook Party, a 14-minute look at Dane Cook preparing for this HBO special. We get interviews with Cook and his director, Marty Callner, as well as talks with fans outside the TD Banknorth Garden.

We also get a three-minute teaser for Cook's Tourgasm series.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Although his massive success suggests otherwise, the comedy stylings of Dane Cook aren't for everyone. If you like your comedy smart, original, and, well, funny, then look somewhere other than Dane Cook: Vicious Circle. HBO Home Video's two-disc set contains a longer version of this "concert event" that will both please fans and further enrage his detractors. The audio and video quality is as good, if not better than the original broadcast, and a few extras have been tacked on to the second disc for good measure.


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