Dennis Miller: All In (2005)
"It's nice to be back here in Las Vegas. I went for a walk out on the strip a little earlier, and now I'm looking for a bookbinder to have my porno handouts leatherbound."- Dennis Miller
Stars: Dennis Miller
Director: Jim Yukich
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: 57m:24s
Release Date: 2006-07-11
DVD ReviewAll In is Dennis Miller's seventh HBO standup special—recorded in 2005 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas—and it finds the 52-year-old comedian perhaps mellowing a bit, or at the very least minimizing his heavy layers of bizarre cultural references. At one point in time a Dennis Miller set was so laden with intentionally obtuse associations and allusions that it was almost impossible to just try and "get" all of his rants, and then be able to explain them to the person sitting next to you. I'll openly credit Miller for long ago reinstituting my common usage of Portuguese explorer Vasco De Gama's name in my everyday vernacular, so much so that it has become the default name I use when filling out login forms online.
A big part of Miller's act has always been his flurry of odd and intelligent textbook references, and while he does lob shoutouts here to the Van Allen Belt, Copernicus, Noel Coward and The Cape of Good Hope (yay, a veiled Vasco mention), the general flow of his comedy seems to be moving away from that somewhat. And when he does deliver one during All In, it seems a trifle forced, as if he thinks that what audiences are expecting him to do. And perhaps they are. It can be a tough and dangerous turn for a comic to dramatically change his shtick midstream, but even Miller admits that at his age he's less inquisitive about some things ("I'm no longer curious about Altoids—it's a mint, a little stronger") so it's only natural his comedy reflects that same age-related evolution.
While the material in All In is not the once familiar barrage of smartly peppered jibes, that's not to say his standup act is necessarily off. It's just different somehow. Standard comic topics do get dragged across the dance floor—flight attendants, obesity, combovers—with more than a dash of Miller's carefully layered descriptions. Just witness the great bit on the derivation of the word Cialis during his chunk on erectile dysfunction. Along the way he drops in a few of his trademark references—"my phone had more clicks than a Ubangi marital spat" or "he had more tics than a Belfast parking attendant"—but they're just not as highbrow.
The tail end of the set largely focuses on politics, with Miller balancing his very open backing of George Bush with the honesty to admit he doesn't agree with the President on everything. The political jabs are evenly distributed between parties (and at one point he almost becomes something of a Bill Clinton supporter), and Miller's intensity level rises up a few notches as he touches on Iraq, pedophiles, and border security. Miller's delivery has tempered—he no longer comes across like an educated wiseass with punchlines only a fraction of the audience gets. His approach is quietly conversational, avoiding the spewing rant approach of Lewis Black or George Carlin.
This isn't a flawless set, and while I anticipated something a little more from Miller, it still has the kind of intelligent humor lacking in most comics. If past history hadn't raised my expectations, I don't think I'd be so underwhelmed.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Miller's set is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a fairly dark disc, and the infrequent bursts of color (Miller's shirt or the stage lighting) are strong and vibrant, while black levels are fairly deep, though Miller's dark suit against a dark background is sometimes problematic in terms of edge detail. For a standup performance, no major complaints, even with long shots of the audience revealing a bit of fine grain and a more pronounced lack of detail. The transfer is devoid of any nicks or debris.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Nothing especially memorable about the 2.0 mix, though Miller's voice is very clear at all times. What makes it so ordinary is that the surrounds aren't used to give that effect of being in a large room, as was done so well on another standup disc—Jeff Cesario: You Can Get a Hooker Tomorrow Night.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Extras Review: No extras aside from the standard issue 12 chapter stops.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThis isn't Miller's A-game by any stretch, but if you're a fan it does deliver some of his trademark smart guy observational jabs; it's just not as bluntly caustic or rapid-fire as some of his other performances. The 60-minute set finishes far stronger than it starts, and like a marquee athlete, even his weaker efforts are far better than that of most rookies.
Rich Rosell 2006-07-11