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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
MGM // PG // December 4, 2001
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 7, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Far better than director Frank Oz's more recent pairing with Steve Martin ("Bowfinger"), but not offering a performance quite as perfect as Kevin Kline's similar effort in "French Kiss", "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" still stands up as a terrifically entertaining picture, helped by the inspired pairing of Michael Caine and Martin.

Caine stars as Lawrence Jamieson, a French con artist who is regal and elegant enough to make tourists believe whatever he tells them about his background. He's generally pleased with his current situation and has staked out his own territory, which is why his view of Freddy Benson (Martin) trying to work his way onto his turf dismays him - at first.

When the two can't seem to get rid of one another, they find that - well, if you can't beat them, join them. The two start an uneasy partnership that includes teaching Freddy ways to be more refined in his attempts to present himself as something he's not. Eventually, the two make a wager to try and attempt to scam a visiting starlet (Glenne Headley). The first one to scam her wins, while the loser must leave the area.

The film boasts terrific performances from Caine, who subtly delivers his dialogue and provides superior timing and Martin, who offers the physical comedy, but restrains himself from going over-the-top. Neither are quite as perfect as Kevin Kline's similar character in Lawrence Kasdan's "French Kiss", but the ability to have both of them play off each other in this picture makes it worthwhile and more enjoyable.

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is a rare picture; one that's a little edgy, smart and very funny without adding any cursing or other elements to drive it over a PG rating. Personally, it's one of those pictures I can watch and be entertained by again and again; it doesn't lose any of its charm or humor upon repeat viewings.


The DVD

VIDEO: MGM presents "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. More often than not, this is a very pleasant transfer that will please fans of the picture. Michael Ballhaus's cinematography is particularly beautiful and captures the locations wonderfully. Sharpness and detail are quite good and the picture remains well-defined and crisp throughout.

As expected, there are a few little flaws here and there throughout the presentation but thankfully, nothing that takes the attention away greatly. Print flaws are about the only concern to contend with, as some minor specks and the occasional mark are seen. While there was no pixelation spotted, a few tiny traces of edge enhancement were noticed.

Colors still appeared particularly rich and vibrant throughout the film, with no smearing or other problems. Flesh tones also looked natural and accurate. While not without some minor blemishes here and there, I thought this was generally very nice work.

SOUND: The film's new Dolby Digital 5.1 is an appreciated effort, but as this is a comedy, it really doesn't make a great deal of difference, anyways. Surrounds kicked in some minor reinforcement of music, but this was so limited that it was hardly noticable; the majority of the audio from the film stayed firmly in the front speakers. Dialogue-driven most of the way, both the minor score and dialogue came through clearly.

MENUS:: MGM seems to be trying to include animated menus on a more consistent basis; although the ones I've seen lately for some of the catalog titles are rather basic, it's still nicer than being greeted with a rather cold, basic still image.

EXTRAS::

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Frank Oz. As with Oz's other new commentary (for "The Score"), I was suprised with how well the director (in this case, alone) was able to recall about the production. Not only does the director do a fine job covering all the bases regarding this film (specific scene analysis, working with the actors, stories from the set), he also gives some of his general feelings about working with the genre. It's quite a good track and well worth a listen.

Trailers: The film's theatrical trailer and the film's teaser trailer (the teaser trailer has optional commentary from director Frank Oz).

Also: An occasionally quite funny, but often quite fluffy, 6 minute/45 second featurette from around the film's production.

Final Thoughts: "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is one of director Oz's best works; a movie that's both intelligent and often very funny. MGM's DVD presentation boasts fine audio/video and a few decent supplements. Recommended.

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