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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Home Movies - Season Four
Home Movies - Season Four
Shout Factory // Unrated // May 16, 2006
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted April 16, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
The last reel for Brendon, Jason and Melissa

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: "Home Movies," cartoons, Shout! Factory
Likes: [adult swim], Walter and Perry
Dislikes: UPN
Hates: Fenton Mewley, Shannon

The Story So Far...
"Home Movies" started in 1999 as a series on UPN, but it made it through just five episodes before getting the boot, only to resurface on cable and find an audience as a part of Cartoon Network's [adult swim] lineup. A show about kids that's certainly not for kids, it follows a trio of young friends: Brendon, Melissa and Jason, who make hundreds of bad films with their camcorder. Without much in the way of supervision from their parents or teachers, they get to do basically whatever they want.

Shout! Factory released Season One in November of 2004, and followed it up with Season Two in May 2005, and Season Three a few months later in October. DVDTalk has reviews of all three: Season One | Season Two | Season Three.

The Show
I fully remember standing on the subway and looking at this poster on the wall for a new animated show on UPN called "Home Movies." What I remember most about the experience was thinking "Wow...that looks like crap." I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking that, since the show was off the air soon after that. In fact, it's possible the show was already off the air.

Then, like many of those same nay sayers, I caught the show as part of the [ adult swim ] lineup. Perhaps the late hour was an influence, giving me a pair of bleary eyes through which the squiggly animation didn't look so bad, but I found myself truly enjoying the show. Here in this expectation-less spot, the show found it's cult niche and grew in confidence and quality, becoming one of the most consistent half-hours of animated comedy on TV. It's amazing how first impressions can be so wrong.

Because of the show's growth, it is disappointing that this set represents the end of the road for the show. There are no new adventures for Brendon and company. Coach McGuirk's been on his last drunken bender. Paula Small has made her last bad judgment call. And worst of all, Walter and Perry can no longer cause confusion with their unusually close and likely homoerotic relationship. So for fans, these final episodes are a chance to say good-bye to characters they have grown to love. What better way is there to do that then to watch McGuirk's pectoral muscles explode into large, lovely lady lumps?

Though he was ever-present in previous seasons, the episodes in this season have a definite focus on the drunken man-child who coaches the kids' soccer team. Thankfully, they benefit from this direction, as his experiences in the woods with a cult of crying, hugging men, his attempts to cheat on his driving test and his pathetic attempt to pick-up a diner waitress make for some of the best episodes this season offers.

The circle draws a bit tighter in this run, with the number of characters reduced to a small handful, keeping the spotlight firmly on the most popular characters. For example, while Brendon's grandfather does make a hilarious appearance, he's only a small part of the episode, whereas previous seasons have spent entire shows on such plots. Here, the kids are the show's raison d'etre, especially Brendon. In fact, I'm tempted to say that Jason got cheated this season, only truly shining in small bits, unlike showcases such as "Bad Influences" or "Four's Company."

If asked to pick the best of the bunch, the choice is not very easy. Though "Curses" has a lot of fun with the idea of swearing and bleeping, and "Those Bitches Tried to Cheat Me" features wonderful runs with Walter and Perry and Coach and Melissa, the best of the series is probably "Camp" which is equally ridiculous and funny, and has an excellent subplot with McGuirk that might be the most memorably one in the series.

The DVDs
The 13 fourth-season episodes of "Home Movies" come on three DVDs, with four episodes on the first two discs and five on the final DVD. Also included in the package is a fourth bonus disc. The main menu features the same full-frame design as the previous sets, with a "Play All" option, episode selections and a special features choice. All of the menus have animated transitions when selections are made, with each option activating a different action. When selecting episodes, any available commentary tracks or episode-specific bonus features are displayed, along with the episode's original airdate. The discs come packaged in three clear ThinPaks with double-sided covers, housed in a cardboard slipcase. Thankfully, the complete series will look nice on your shelf.

The Quality
Nothing has really changed since the previous season, which means this set's full-frame transfers look great. The color is solid and everything is clean and stable, though some pixilization is evident in places, as is often the case with traditional black-outline animation. It's interesting to see when in "Focus Grill," Brendon looks over the movies the trio has created, which includes some of the original squigglevision scenes. It's incredible how far the series came in four short seasons in terms of the quality.

Like the video, the audio, presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, is nice and clean, with distortion-free dialogue and properly deployed music. This set recreates the TV experience as you remember it, which is all one could really ask for.

The Extras
There's a rather extensive collection of supplementary material here, mostly in the form of an incredible 24 audio commentaries, from a wide variety of sources. The best part is the outreach made to include not just the cast and crew but fans, including the bands Modest Mouse and The Shins, the staff of The Onion and a "SuperFan."

The commentaries can be divided into four types: the creators (Loren Bouchard and Small and guests), the supporting cast (Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky and friends), the executives (Bill Braudis, Jack Ferraiolo and Keith Law) and the special guests. Of the four, the creators tracks provide the best balance between entertainment and information, while the supporting cast is the most fun, and the executives provides the most insight, thanks in part to the SuperFan's questions.

Unfortunately, the special guest tracks are the least enjoyable. As they didn't work on the show, they don't have anything to share, and for the most part, they are watching the show with you. Of the selections, The Shins' commentary is the best, as they are actually into it, and aren't trying too hard, unlike some other commentators.

Disc One
The first four episodes of Season Four are accompanied by nine episode-length audio commentaries:

"Camp"

  • Loren Bouchard and Brendon Small
  • Isaac Brock and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse

    "Bye, Bye Greasy"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small, Ron Lynch
  • Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky, Eugene Mirman, Loren Bouchard
  • Bill Braudis (writer), Jack Ferraiolo (producer), Keith Law (superfan)

    "The Heart Smashers"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small, Ron Lynch
  • Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky, Sam Seder

    "Everybody's Entitled to My Opinion"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small, Ron Lynch
  • Fans from the staff of "The Onion": Joe Garden, John Krewson, Chris Karkowski

    The disc also has full animatics for "Camp," so you can see how the show came together, and the 23-minute "The Beginning of the Genesis of the Origin of 'Home Movies' - The Very First Sessions with Loren Bouchard." Though it's a bit crude in its execution, it's a great look at the development of the show, as seen through the original recordings done for the show. Bouchard walks you through tons of clips from the series' early history, in a piece that will be interesting to not only the show's fans, but to viewers into television and animation production as well.

    Disc Two
    There's a few less audio commentaries this time, with the second four episodes rating just seven tracks.

    "The Wizard's Baker"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small
  • Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky, Sam Seder, Eugene Mirman

    "Psycho-Delicate"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small
  • Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky, Todd Barry
  • Fans from the staff of "The Onion": Joe Garden, John Krewson, Chris Karkowski

    "Curses"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small

    "Honkey Magoo"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small

    In addition to a full-length set of animatics for "The Wizard's Maker," the second disc has the "'Home Movies' Audio Outtakes Jukebox," which allows you to randomly call up unused moments from the show's recording sessions. It's a cute way to present this material, but it's not as entertaining as the extras found on the previous releases.

    Disc Three
    The final fice episodes are blessed with just eight audio commentaries, a meager serving compared to the other platters.:

    "Those Bitches Tried to Cheat Me"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small
  • Bill Braudis (writer), Jack Ferraiolo (producer), Keith Law (superfan)

    "The Adventures of Cho and Amy Lee"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small

    "Definite Possible Murder"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small

    "Temporary Blindness"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small
  • Marty Crandall, James Mercer of The Shins

    "Focus Grill"

  • Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small
  • Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky, Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small, Eugene Mirman

    The third DVD also has animatics for "Those Bitches Tried to Cheat Me."

    Also found in the set is a fourth disc, but it's not a DVD. It's a CD containing 52 tracks of music Brendon Small wrote for the show. I believe it contains everything he did, but that could be wrong. Admittedly, it might be a bit much for anyone but the most diehard "Home Movies" fan, but some of the tracks are actually pretty good, especially if you're a metalhead, while some of them are entertaining simply because they remind you of the hilarious moments in the series.

    On The Hunt
    As has become tradition for the "Home Movies" DVDs, the first disc features an Easter Egg, found in the same spot as before. It's a pretty significant inclusion, and one that will appeal mainly to the core audience.

    The Bottom Line
    A solid finish to a great series, the fourth season of "Home Movies" doesn't present a show running out of gas, as there are episodes here that are among the series' best. But on the other hand, there's no "Renaissance"-level episode here, as the series just maintains its already high level of quality instead of raising it. It also ends with a very appropriate bit of closure that fits the tone of the show, is poignant and not at all cloying.

    The set looks and sounds as good as it has before, and really gets the job done with the commentaries, providing hours of additional entertainment. Though there's no more "Home Movies" to look forward to, it's a pretty safe bet that some more impressive DVDs still to come from this crew.


    Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

    Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow


    *The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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