Danny Roane: First Time Director:
You know Andy Dick - for a variety of insubstantial reasons, the same reasons why you probably consider him an infamous celebrity rather than a famous talent. Outrageous public behavior, controversial statements, scandalous actions and drug and alcohol addiction can do a lot to overwhelm a promising comedy career, literally and figuratively. Danny Roane: First Time Director is Andy Dick's rather circular attempt to take control of his career again and rediscover some inroads to Hollywood.
Write what you know, they say, which goes a long way towards cluing potential viewers in to the plot of Danny Roane. A promising comedian with a highly successful network sitcom to his credit implodes his career through alcohol and drug addiction. Hoping to salvage his career, he tries his hand at writing and directing his first Feature Film. So I've written the same paragraph twice, but luckily here the stories diverge, as Andy Dick's real film is a hell of a lot funnier and actually makes sense, as opposed to the movie-within-a-movie 'ded drem.'
Despite having an actual story and a semi-redemptive (yet reversed) character arc, Danny Roane works its magic as a near stream of consciousness trip through Roane's deteriorating mind. Roane starts breaking down immediately under pressure - he can hardly handle pitching his film - but when the cast of no-talent losers sneaks real alcohol onto the set, we realize Roane has plenty of room still before hitting rock bottom. Thankfully this sets us up for many fantastic sequences of semi-improvisational, lunatic idiocy. Roane's half-baked, poorly realized scenes constantly change on drunken whims, and collapse without the benefit of a budget.
As one might expect with such an all-pervasive devil-may-care attitude, not everything thrown at the comedy wall sticks, some bits stay too long and others may be too much, (James Van Der Beek dabbing his bleeding ass, for instance) but even these misses further the often uncomfortable air of BBC The Office style comedy. Give the movie a second look and they may strike differently. But with Dick's truly warped wit and a top-notch cast of supporting comic improvisers (Ben Stiller, Bob Odenkirk, Kate Flannery, Jack Black etc.) most material will have you doing your own spit-takes.
If you're the type who enjoys laughing at the drunken clown, Danny Roane will give you reason to rejoice. By the hilarious festival premier of ded drem, the cumulative effect is devastating - ludicrous genius. Even sensitive viewers are let in, as Andy Dick makes it clear that while it's fun to mock the boozed-up fool, that poor shmoe actually needs help. But laugh while the laughing's good, and Danny Roane: First Time Director makes it real good.
Danny Roane: First Time Director is certainly a scrappy little feature, presented in a 1.78:1 ratio enhanced for 16 x 9 widescreen TVs, but revealing a low budget similar to its fictional counterpart. Grotty, sometimes poorly lit scenes benefit the atmosphere with their grainy grubbiness. This is not a movie to challenge HDTVs and might even be better suited to an old CRT monitor. But of course awesomely sharp resolution isn't the point here, so at the risk of being an enabler, let's just say that Danny Roane looks just fine as it is.
The film is presented in Dolby Digital English 2.0 Audio. The sound design is not complex, but features many songs, both satirical and serious. Everything sounds fine, neither state-of-the-art nor cruddy. Dialogue is clear, except when the actors are slurring, which is often. Pay special attention to Dick's compositions peppered throughout the film, super-funny but weirdly recorded - you might want the subtitles to catch all the lyrics.
English Closed Captions, English and Spanish Subtitles and five Previews for other goofball releases are the pedestrian extras. Ten minutes of Outtakes show actors mostly breaking each other up, and don't read very differently from the feature. Twenty-one-minutes of Extended Interview Scenes are just more to love with a slightly lower hit-to-miss ratio than from the feature. Not the greatest selection of extras, scanty even, but funny, surely funny.
A veritable endless stream of jokes, questionable, taboo and tasteless - to name a few attributes - can't possibly all work, but with this bounty, who's complaining? Danny Roane: First Time Director is an admittedly rough film, but as it piles on the lunacy nothing else seems to matter. Some of the bits - especially Roane's finished product - are so weird and funny they'll stick with you for days. Dangerous comedy fans will gobble up Andy Dick's Feature Debut, a scurrilous riot that begs repeated viewings. If you liked Kentucky Fried Movie or Shakes The Clown, sign right up. Dick has room to improve, but he's surely on the right track. Definitely Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com