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I have to admit, I like Rob Schneider’s movies. They may not be great cinema, but they are always good for some lowbrow laughs. Schneider is a very likable comedian, who has made a career of portraying everyday slobs that manage to find themselves in way over their heads. Such is the case with Schneider’s latest flick THE ANIMAL ($28), which produces consistent laughs and giggles.

In THE ANIMAL, Schneider plays a likable looser named Marvin, who wants more than anything to become a police officer, just like his dearly departed father. Regrettably, Marvin isn’t the greatest specimen and repeatedly fails the Police cadet’s physical examination. Still, Marvin tries his best and even works in civilian capacity within the Police department. However, when there are no cops available to answer an emergency 911 call, Marvin jumps in his car and attempts to save the day.

Unfortunately, on his way to the rescue Marvin gets into a serious automobile accident and awakens a week later with a physical prowess he did not possess before. Marvin’s new abilities get him his dream job as a police officer, but his sudden notoriety also brings him a visit from a slightly demented scientist named Dr. Wilder (Michael Caton). Marvin learns it was Dr. Wilder who found him after his automobile accident, and in order to save Marvin’s life, the doctor transplanted a number of animal parts into his body. Discovering that he is now part animal also goes a long way in explaining why Marvin finds himself fighting off a series of bizarre urges that are making his life even stranger than usual.

THE ANIMAL also features Colleen Haskell of TV’s SURVIVOR as our leading man-beast’s love interest Rianna. Haskell may not but putting an Academy Award up on her mantle any time soon, but she is a real cutie, who could have a steady career in this type of lightweight comedy. The cast of THE ANIMAL also includes John C. McGinley, Edward Asner, Louis Lombardi and Guy Torry. Look for Norm Macdonald and executive producer Adam Sandler in amusing cameos.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made THE ANIMAL available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Since this in a brand new movie and Columbia TriStar has a reputation of producing first class DVD presentations, it is not surprising that THE ANIMAL looks great. The image is crisp, clean and incredibly well defined. Colors are quite vibrant and flesh tones appear convincingly natural. It should be noted that none of the more intense hues produce any form of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks appear very accurate and the picture produces a healthy dose of shadow detail. Owning to the fact that THE ANIMAL was in theaters only a couple of months ago, the film element used for the transfer appears pristine, with little appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed on this dual layer DVD.

THE ANIMAL is presented on DVD with a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Since THE ANIMAL is a dialogue driven comedy, the sound mix is pretty standard. Dialogue is very clean and precisely rendered, so that one can hear all the jokes. There are some sound effects that take advantage of the discrete abilities of the Dolby Digital format, but this sound mix is a long way from action movie territory. Music is well integrated into the sound mix and is the one element that uses all of the channels on a consistent basis. The bass channel is solid enough to firm up the music and occasional sound effects. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s amusing interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice supplements. As a Special Edition THE ANIMAL features two separate audio commentaries. The first includes Rob Schneider and producer John Schneider, while the second features director Luke Greenfield. The Schneider commentary is definitely the more entertaining of the two, while the Greenfield provides far more technical detail on the making of the film. Both have their merits, but casual viewers will probably be attracted to the Schneider commentary for it entertainment value. Badger Delivery is an interactive feature that will bring up a special icon during the course of the movie, which will allow one access to bits left on the cutting room floor. Also included on the DVD is the Comedy Central’s "Reel Comedy: The Animal", which runs under a half hour. This program is hosted by Rob Schneider and Colleen Haskell and includes interviews, as well as a look behind-the-scenes. A short featurette entitled Animal Instincts is also provided, as are deleted scenes, an interactive game called What’s In Marvin, filmographies, a theatrical trailer and bonus trailers.

THE ANIMAL is a funny flick that will appeal to an audience’s less evolved side. Columbia TriStar has produced a great looking DVD with some nice supplements to keep fans happy. If you are a Rob Schneider devotee (and know what this word means), you will definitely want to check out THE ANIMAL on DVD.


The Animal (Special Edition)


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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