Do you think that farts are the funniest thing people can do? I count myself among
the legions of those who will laugh at almost anything involving farts. So, when
the chance to review Fartacular featuring Le Petomane arose, I
immediately jumped at the opportunity. What lies within this DVD could possibly
be the largest collection of fart jokes ever assembled on DVD. However, it's not
at all the greatest collection
of fart jokes ever assembled.
The main attraction is the 30-minute short film, Le Petomane: Parti Avec le Vent,
written and directed by comedian Steve Ochs. The story is based on the real life
of Moulin Rouge entertainer Joseph Pujol (Ben Wise) who was better known as Le Petomane.
As a kid, Joseph Pujol discovers that he can suck up water through his butt when
he falls into a fountain. A doctor examines him and finds nothing wrong. As an adult,
Pujol then discovers that he can suck up air through his butt and fart at will--similar
to how people burp by swallowing air.
What follows is a hilariously disturbing examination by Dr. Baudouin (Kevin Scott
Allen) where the doctor is completely infatuated with this new specimen. This kicks
off a subplot where the doctor becomes obsessed with examining Pujol's butt, but
Pujol will not let him continue all the weird experiments. That does not
dissuade Dr. Baudouin who will stop at nothing to carry on with the examinations. Pujol
takes his new farting talent to the stage where he is met by a confused and unimpressed
audience. Undeterred, he refines his act to the point where he can make animal sounds,
smoke cigarettes, and play the flute with his butt. As Le Petomane, Pujol eventually
rises in fame and becomes a star attraction at the Moulin Rouge.
Le Petomane is just long enough to maintain interest and not become boring, but just barely. The
subplot about a Dr. Baudouin's obsession with examining Joseph Pujol is comical
at first, but wears out its welcome when you realize that the doctor is around for
the long haul. Then it just becomes weird. More of Le Petomane's act and less of
the obsessed doctor would have made for a funnier film. In fact, if Dr. Baudouin
just disappeared after his great first scene, not much would have been lost. A story
about a man who learns to harness the power of farting to the point where he can
play the flute with his butt is compelling enough without needing a tacked-on antagonist.
The ending was bizarre, but somehow fit in with the weirdly funny vibe of the movie.
A minor issue with this film is that some of the French accents are very thick.
There's nothing wrong with some authenticity, but this is a film designed for English-speaking
audiences. The only way to be truly authentic is to film the movie in French with
English subtitles--anything less than that needs to be as discernable for American
audiences as possible. It's a struggle in a few scenes to make out what is being
said and it becomes frustrating to watch. Then somebody farts, you laugh, and all
Joseph Pujol's story, as told by Steve Ochs is an amusing tale of life, love, and
flatulence. Pujol had a superpower--the ability to fart at will--that he used for
the forces of good and entertained the masses. Overall, the short film is funny
in parts and contained a few laugh out loud moments, but it's not quite as funny
as the DVD cover leads you to believe. Le Petomane is not long, but still manages
to cover a lot of material. It will give you some laughs if you never
outgrew fart jokes. And really, who ever did?
Sound: The audio is encoded in 5.1 surround sound. Le Petomane is mostly dialogue
based, so the majority of the action is in the front speakers. The surrounds are
used mainly for ambient sounds such as fart echoes and clapping. There is a "THX
Fart" around the 24-minute mark that could make a great demo of your surround system.
Video: The video is presented in nonanamorphic widescreen. There is some line noise
and pixelization present. On my Toshiba HD-DVD player, this disc appeared to be
missing every other line of resolution. On my Samsung Blu-ray player, the issue
was less apparent, but still visible in some scenes. The source material looks as
if it would appear fantastic, especially for a low budget short film, but unfortunately,
the video transfer is subpar for a DVD release.
Extras: This DVD is loaded with extras such as cartoons and short films--all about
farting. The sheer, overwhelming amount of fart clips and short films is just sick.
The breadth of the material is appreciated, but the quality is terrible. Many of
the extras are just
not funny at all, especially the "Wacky Fartoons," which originated as computer
animated web shorts. I said at the beginning of the review that I laugh at almost
anything involving farts. These cartoons were a rare exception. The Celebrity Fart
Challenges are completely unwatchable. They feature bad impressions of celebrities
such as Howard Stern and Anna Nichole Smith facing off in a fart battle that is
very amateur and not at all funny. Other "Wacky Fartoons" include the agonizingly
long Act Harder and the mercifully shorter Circus of the Farts Part 1 and 2.
The "Selected Sharts" are a little better than the cartoons. One is a parody of the trailer for The Departed
called The Defarted. Another short, called The Fart Match, features a couple facing
off in a tennis-like farting duel. There is one part in the middle that had me in
tears laughing, but it should have ended at that point instead of continuing for
another few minutes. The other two, Timeowl and Fart Train, are barely watchable.
The last two special features are a Director's Commentary and
a Behind the Scenes of Le Petomane. The commentary features director/writer Steve
Ochs, cinematographer Bengt Jonsson, and production designer Oana Bogdan. It is
an interesting commentary if you enjoyed the film, with Steve Ochs doing most of the talking, while the
others chime in. It provides a lot of background on how they set up the scenes and
explanations on some inside jokes with very little dead time. The Behind the Scenes
featurette runs 21 minutes and features various faces behind the movie. It has a
musical montage featuring videos of storyboarding and creating sets and then becomes
a video diary about the filming process and opening day.
Final Thoughts: Le Petomane is a somewhat amusing 30-minute fart joke disguised as a period
piece. The extras are mostly a miss, especially the "Wacky Fartoons." There are a few chuckles to be
found in the collection of "Selected Sharts," but there are some duds in there as well. If you're to type who finds yourself
in stitches when somebody lets one rip, then
the short feature, Le Petomane, is worth a look. I'm just sure that I'll
never watch it again. Rent
Bobby is a programmer by trade and a wannabe writer. Check out his other reviews here. You can also check out his blog about harmless nonsense or follow him on Twitter