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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Tapeheads
Tapeheads
Starz / Anchor Bay
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Chris Hughes | posted March 13, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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Features: Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1. Available Audio Tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Trivia Booklet. Audio commentary with producer Mike Nesmith, director Bill Fishman and production designer Catherine Hardwicke.

The Movie:
1988's low budget comedy Tapeheads saw limited theatrical release and little critical acclaim but the Mike Nesmith produced project staring Tim Robbins and John Cusack didn't simply roll over into obscurity. Over the years since its initial run Tapeheads, thanks to independent theaters and home video, has become something of a cult classic. This offbeat and, for its time, innovative comedy holds up in many respects today and thanks to the DVD format is sure to find an even larger audience in the years to come.

The story of Tapeheads concerns two failing security guards (Robbins and Cusack) who get fed up with their jobs and decide to take a swing at making music videos. A half dozen false starts and hilariously bad videos later they fall backwards into fame and find themselves at the top of Hollywood's hot list. Meanwhile Robbins falls in love with his female roommate, a politician gets involved in a kinky sex scandal and the boys attempt to use their new found wealth to revive the career of their favorite R&B band The Swanky Modes. Along the way we're treated to sharp dialogue, subtle visual humor and more 80's rock references than you can shake a keyboard-print tie at. As if that weren't enough, look for cameos by Connie Stephens, Bob Golthwait, Martha Quinn, Ted Nugent and others. The soundtrack features songs by Devo, Circle Jerks, The Dead Kennedys and They Might Be Giants.

The Picture:
Tapeheads is beautifully preserved on this Anchor Bay release. The source material used seems to be free from any major blemishes, scratches and dirt. The colors are vibrant and fully saturated, flesh tones look very lifelike and contrast levels are dead on. Of particular note is the deep shadow detail and complete lack of moiré effects from over sharpening. Tapeheads is anamorphically enhanced and presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

The Sound:
A film with as refined a soundtrack as this one deserves a careful audio transfer and that's exactly what you'll find here. Tapeheads has been remixed in Dolby 5.1 channel surround and the results are fantastic. Every word of dialogue and every musical note is crisp and clear without a hint of distortion, hiss or clipping. The soundstage is fairly broad with some panning across the front speakers. The rears and LFE are used much more sparingly. Overall, the track is greatly enhanced by the additional channels without sacrificing the original stereo feel. If you're a purist have no fear. The original 2.0 stereo sound is also available.

The Extras:
Though Anchor Bay would probably argue otherwise this isn't exactly a special edition. There's only one real extra in the release but it's a good one. Tapeheads features screen specific audio commentary by producer Mike Nesmith, director Bill Fishman and production designer Catherine Hardwicke. The commentary is filled with anecdotes from the set, interesting observations on low budget filmmaking and nary a mention of Nesmith's old 'band' The Monkeys. The dialogue comes fast and furious so you won't have to sit through long gaps and after a slow start the conversation becomes genuinely interesting. The only other extra in this release is a CD single that comes in the case (on a second disc holder that will be familiar to anyone who owns Gladiator.) The single is the Swanky Mode's song Ordinary Man and it's a nice if somewhat insubstantial addition to the release.

Conclusion:
Your background will probably determine your enjoyment of Tapeheads. If you grew up in the 80s and witnessed the birth of MTV you'll find all sorts of things to amuse. By the same token Tim Robins and John Cusack fans will probably get a kick out of this film. On the other hand you may find Tapeheads to be something of weak attempt at National Lampoon type humor without the polish of films like Vacation and Animal House. Be that as it may I enjoyed Tapeheads and give it a rating of: Recommended.

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