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WHERE’S POPPA? ($20) is my kind of comedy- crude and vulgar with something to offend everyone. Nothing is sacred and director Carl Reiner isn’t taking any prisoners with this full frontal assault style of black comedy. WHERE’S POPPA? tells the story of Gordon Hocheiser (George Segal), who is having his life systematically destroyed by his senile mother (Ruth Gordon), who lives with him. Due to a deathbed promise to his father, Gordon won’t put his mother in a nursing home, but he isn’t beyond trying to scare her to death to get a moment’s peace. Unfortunately for Gordon, the old girl is very resilient and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. However, when Gordon meets Louise Callan (Trish Van Devere), a young woman with whom he can have a future, he begins to reevaluate his life and his promise to dearly departed poppa. The cast of WHERE’S POPPA? also features Ron Leibman, Rae Allen, Vincent Gardenia, Barnard Hughes, Garrett Morris, Rob Reiner and Paul Sorvino.

MGM Home Entertainment has made WHERE’S POPPA? in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has NOT been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays (a full screen version is also offered on a separate layer of the DVD). I think that the wide screen version of WHERE’S POPPA? could have looked better on DVD, had it been given a new 16:9 enhanced transfer. This presentation would appear to have come from the Laserdisc transfer and looks rather dated. The image is a bit soft and the general level of detail isn’t as good as it could have been. Colors seem to have fallen victim to circa 1970 film stocks, which didn’t always offer the most attractive range of colors. I really think that a brand new transfer could have provided better color correction that what is offered here. As it stands the colors are rather flat, uninspired and favoring the earthen tones. Blacks appear reasonable, and contrast is without any form of subtlety. Film grain is somewhat noticeable in places, but not bothersome. Minor blemishes are do appear from time to time, but they too are never bothersome.

WHERE’S POPPA? comes with a respectable sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Since this is a dialogue driven comedy, the limited fidelity of the track isn’t really an issue. Background hiss and surface noise would seem to have been minimized, with the track pretty much holding its own. Dialogue is always completely understandable and usually pretty amusing. There are no other language tracks on the DVD, but subtitles are provided in English, French and Spanish. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer and the film’s disturbing alternate ending (which was also present on the Laserdisc release).

WHERE’S POPPA? is a black comedy that goes out of its way to offend everyone- something at which it succeeds famously. It is also quite funny and certainly appeals to my twisted sense of humor. MGM’s presentation is decent, but could have been better. Interested parties may want to rent the DVD before they decide to buy.



Where's Poppa (1970)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 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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