WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
World renowned for playing uppity British stiffs, John Cleese (of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame) finally gets a movie all to himself in Clockwise, a sometimes humorous but ultimately mediocre comedy that depends far too much on the old Cleese persona.
Brian Stimpson (Cleese) is the pompous headmaster of a British private school. He is a man obsessed with punctuality and order. He has been elected chairman of the Headmaster's Conference and is scheduled to deliver a speech at the University of Norwich in a matter of hours. Naturally, everything goes awry. His frantic personality and his dithery attention span—stunted by his obsession to time—lead him deeper and deeper into trouble, as he races across the British countryside in the company of one of his students. Their journey encompasses petty theft, crazed grannies, fender benders, mudbaths, harried old girlfriends, a monastery, and a suit stolen from a Porsche driver. Unfortunately, I think I've made it sound funnier than it really is.
Although Clockwise contains some sequences that will tickle your funny bone, those sequences are largely due to Cleese. The screenplay is of the type that was probably funnier in concept than in execution. The movie suffers from long humorless passages, lazy editing, and an ending that is a serious letdown. Whereas typical comedies feature a nice build-up to a climax that pays off in increased laughter, the ending of Clockwise is more of a long, bored groan. Even Cleese can't provide sufficient histrionics to hold it all together.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Anchor Bay presents Clockwise in an anamorphic-widescreen presentation of the film's original 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Picture quality is generally soft, although I noticed very few blemishes or flaws. And although background detail (and sometimes even foreground detail) is wanting, the digital transfer shows little to no artifacting. Colors are muted, perhaps an element of the original dreary British color palette.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The DVD offers only a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. This soundtrack gets the job done—and no more. Surround activity is, of course, non-existent. However, dialog comes across cleanly, with little loss in fidelity.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
A nice surprise on this disc is the inclusion of a 13-minute anamorphic-widescreen featurette called Clockwatching with Mr. Cleese. Mr. Cleese (looking pretty long in the tooth) talks fondly of his career and of his experiences making this film. This is a nicely produced little interview that left me as satisfied as anything else on the disc. Also included is a relatively extensive text biography of Cleese, but unfortunately no other cast or crew information. An anamorphic-widescreen trailer rounds out the disc's extras.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
Clockwise is at times agreeably humorous, thanks to the presence of Cleese. If not for that icon of British humor, though, this comedy would be awfully stale indeed.