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DVD Review: FUNNY OR DIE PRESENTS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON



Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
Year: 2010
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, David Spade, Don Cheadle, Zooey Deschanel, Tim Meadows, Busy Philipps, Ed Helms, Wayne Newton, Derek Walters, Thomas Lennon, Steve Tom, Brett Gelman, Rob Huebel, Rob Riggle, Paul Scheer, Malin Akerman, Nikki Whelan, Fred Willard, Rachel Harris, Tim Heidicker, Eric Wareheim, Will Forte, Zach Galifianakis
Director: various
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Rating: Not Rated for (adult language)
Run Time: 05h:16m:54s
Genre(s): television

“If some of it comes across a little weird for you or a little too cutting-edge, then you need to ask yourself this question: Am I a racist?” - Ed Haligan

FUNNY OR DIE PRESENTS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

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This hit HBO sketch show is generally hit-or-miss, but, fortunately, it's more the former than the latter. With the second season now airing, there's no better time than now to catch up.

Movie Grade: A-

DVD Grade: B

Sketch comedy has been a staple of popular culture for decades, and most people will point to Saturday Night Live as the seminal example of this comedic subgenre. While that show continues to air (yet is an empty shell of what it once was) after more than 40 years, many similar shows have tried, and failed to make their niche on a crowded TV market. One of the newest such series is HBO’s Funny Or Die Presents. Based on the popular Website of the same name which was founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the weekly, 30-minute show, gives us new, non-web sketches that are introduced by the fictional Ed Haligan (Steve Tom), the “Head of West Coast Sales and Marketing.” Fitting the bill with most sketch comedy, each episode is a hit and miss affair, but, fortunately, they’re more hit than miss, and this is much funnier stuff than you’ll see on today’s iteration of NBC’s aforementioned long-running sketch show.

All 12 episodes are included in Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete First Season, and they’re spread out across two discs. Many of the sketches are recurring, and the best of these is Designated Driver, which stars the always- reliable Rob Riggle (The Daily Show) and Paul Scheer (The League). It’s a simple premise, as Riggle plays the overly drunk, obnoxious best friend to Scheer’s hapless guy stuck driving Riggle around all night. Where this differs from similar fare is in Riggle’s hilarious over-the-top performance as a guy that’s so far gone, that his next move is as unpredictable as it comes. Scheer’s funny, everyman persona works as a great compliment to Riggle’s bombast, and there are laughs to be had during nearly every minute of this recurring sketch.

The most memorable, hilarious sketches, however, involve Adult Swim stars Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!). The first of these is a recurring sketch spread over a single episode, and titled Just 3 Boyz. Think of this as a cross between any late-80s/early 90s sitcom, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and a David Lynch project and you can at least start to get a feel for what Tim and Eric are doing here. Add in another hilarious turn by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), and you get pure, off-the-wall, even surreal hilarity.

Tim and Eric return for the absolute funniest sketch in this set, Morning Prayer with Skott and Behr, during which they send up those late-night, public access religious shows that make cable TV worth still subscribing to. Amazingly, that’s really the best way to describe any plot that might have been jotted down on a few lines of paper, as this extended skit is full of surprises that come at us by the second. Not only do Tim and Eric, themselves, shine as the titular televangelists hocking a religion that’s either fake or slid under the radar for centuries, but they get plenty of help by a handful of familiar faces. These come in the form of the always-hilarious Will Forte (MacGruber), who introduces an animated clip that is simply amazing, and Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show), bringing his unique, subtle humor to this crazy mix.

None of the other sketches come close to equaling the aforementioned bits, but there are still plenty of laughs to be had throughout this first season of the show. This is thanks in large part to the involvement of some of today’s best comedians, many of which remain criminally unknown by the masses, including Chris Parnell, Rob Heubel, Tim Meadows, Tom Lennon, and David Koechner. There are also some extremely well-known faces involved, namely Will Ferrell, Ed Helms, Fred Willard, David Spade, Don Cheadle, and Zooey Deschanel. Again, as with virtually all sketch comedy, there are moments of groaning to go along with the laughter, but there are more than enough laughs here, to make Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete First Season a must buy for fans of witty, sometime even dangerous humor. HBO’s 2-disc set does a nice job with the audio and video presentations, but there isn’t a single extra feature to be had.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - February 15, 2011, 6:06 am - DVD Review
Keywords: outrageous, hilarious, insane, sketch comedy




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