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If you've already been delighted by the DVD edition of that comic gem BEST IN SHOW, you'll definitely want to check out its mock documentary predecessor WAITING FOR GUFFMAN ($20). With WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, director Christopher Guest and his co-writer Eugene Levy have created the characters and situations in which the actors improvise brutally real and sometimes hilariously comic performances. The storyline of this mockumentary follows the sesquicentennial, or one hundred and fiftieth anniversary celebration of the founding of the town of Blaine, Missouri. For their sesquicentennial, Blaine's theater company will be performing Red, White And Blaine, a musical history of the town that is being directed by the flamboyant, highly theatrical Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest). During the audition period for Red, White And Blaine, the audience gets to meet the town’s odd assemblage of thespians. However, their biggest quirks don’t emerge until the turbulent rehearsal period, when both cast and director learn a Broadway talent scout named Guffman will be attending the opening night performance of their production. The delightfully daft cast of WAITING FOR GUFFMAN also features Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, Lewis Arquette, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Larry Miller, Matt Keeslar, Brian Doyle-Murray and Paul Benedict.

Warner Home Video has made WAITING FOR GUFFMAN available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. In typical "documentary" fashion, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN was shot on 16mm and then blown up to 35mm for theatrical presentation. Certainly, the image is softer than a typical 35mm production, but the picture provides very good clarity and a respectable amount of detail. Colors tend to be subdued, but rendered in a fairly realistic fashion. Blacks are okay, however the documentary style photography doesn't allow for much depth in the picture. But then again, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN isn't the kind of film that people watch for its striking image quality.

WAITING FOR GUFFMAN is presented with a very nice Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack. While there isn't anything by way of overt directionality, the musical numbers Red, White And Blaine jump out at the listener, giving them a sense of being in a small auditorium and watching an amateur theatrical. Dialogue is cleanly rendered, with very good intelligibility. Subtitles are provided on the DVD in English, French and Spanish.


The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as couple of nice extras. Director/co-writer Christopher Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy provide a somewhat sparse running audio commentary. Unfortunately, the two comedians are unable of improvise anything amusing during the course of their talk- making it slow going. Far more enjoyable are the fourteen deleted scenes offered on the DVD with optional filmmaker commentary. Consisting of more than a half an hour of material, the deleted scenes are quite funny and more than worth checking out. Filling out the extras is a theatrical trailer, plus production notes and cast/crew listing.

WAITING FOR GUFFMAN is a delightful film that many DVD fans have been clamoring for. Warner has delivered a solid presentation that should make them all quite happy.


Waiting for Guffman


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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