Run Ronnie Run - seriously, let's put this thing to bed. Better yet, let's kill it as it sleeps peacefully. If any situation called for an act of euthanasia, this is it. Both Bob and I agree that all in all, the movie is not that great. While it definitely has some very funny moments, the current cut of the movie that is out there being screened and traded on the internet, just isn't that good. There are very specific notes for a different cut (that Troy Miller, the director is enthusiastic about) ready to be input, which we all feel would make the movie, tighter, funnier, and generally more enjoyable all around. And I truly believe that the drama around New Line's decision to not release it (which Bob and I have unfortunately contributed far to much too) has only served to heighten expectations to a level that the current cut of movie cannot live up to.
So, please everybody, let's put our petty differences behind us for once, and let us all band together for a common good. Please stop wanting to see the movie, asking about it, or online chatting about it. Perhaps the sooner we put this national nightmare behind us, the sooner Bob and I can get working on our next project (Hooray For America - The Movie?) Let's kill Run Ronnie Run once and for all.
Bob and Danny
I tend to be cautious when a movie is perpetually delayed; considering how dismal the dreck that winds up in theaters frequently is, the stuff that the studios embarrassedly sweep under the rug must be really bad. The principal talent railing against their own movie is rarely a hallmark of quality either. Run Ronnie Run!, the fabled Mr. Show movie, has languished on New Line's shelves, collecting dust for nearly two years. Perhaps spurred on by the sales of the television series' DVD sets from corporate sibling HBO, New Line is bringing Run Ronnie Run! directly to home video several years after principal photography wrapped. Despite its troubled history, Run Ronnie Run! is a pretty funny movie, certainly superior to many comedies that wind up playing on a couple thousand screens, though not as consistently entertaining as the better moments of its small-screen incarnation.
Run Ronnie Run! is a feature-length take on Ronnie Dobbs, one of Mr. Show's most memorable characters. The mullet-draped, beer-swillin' Ronnie is among the most arrested men this side of the Mississip', constantly trying to weasel away from the authorities as he solicits hookers and swipes oversized porcine promos. Ronnie's constant appearances on the cop reality show "Fuzz" eventually catch the eye of Terry Twillstein, an inventor who peddles his useless and occasionally fatal wares on late-night infomericals. Terry's concept is to have Ronnie arrested in a different city each week, and his star's alcohol-fueled antics net them millions of dollars and nationwide notoriety. Despite piles of cash and the opportunity to bed his cardboard cut-out dream gal, all Ronnie really wants is :sniffles: is another chance to marry his ex-wife back home for a fourth and hopefully final time.
It's better than that synopsis sounds. Really. The good news is that Run Ronnie Run! is every bit as funny as an episode of Mr. Show. That's kind of the bad news as well, since Run Ronnie Run! at 77 minutes is three times the length of an average episode, spreading the laughs over a much longer period of time. Despite its slim runtime, Run Ronnie Run! plods along at times, and there's just not a feature film worth of material here. The clever segues were one of my favorite aspects of the TV series, and when Run Ronnie Run! shifts gears and tosses in Three Times One Minus One or Jack Black in a brilliantly obscene spoof of Mary Poppins, those abrupt turns almost seem like filler. Those moments are some of the movie's most memorable bits, but several of them seem as if they'd been added in after the fact to up the laugh quotient a notch or two rather than coming across as an integral part of the film. Some of the gags about Ronnie's rise to infamy are lifted directly from the series, losing a little something after the fifth or sixth viewing. Still others -- such as Tom Kenny's recurring character as a newscaster who constantly stumbles over his words -- are bafflingly unfunny. The jabs at reality shows have gotten stale in the lengthy time between filming and its belated release. On one of the commentaries on HBO's first Mr. Show DVD release, David noted how dificult it was to put together a TV show that met their standards of quality, a process of seemingly endless refinement. I just don't get the impression that much care was taken here, as the rock-steady pacing and consistently brilliant writing that set Mr. Show apart from the rest are noticeably absent.
...but when Run Ronnie Run! hits the mark, it's absolutely hysterical. Easily my favorite part of the film pairs Ronnie up with Chow-Chow, a young boy whose enormous feet keep him bound to a wheelchair. Chow-Chow, dubbed by David Cross with his best Asian kid stereotype, is regaled by Ronnie prattling on about a gold-painted, diamond crystal speedboat and "spendin' money like a chimp in a beat-off contest". Ronnie doesn't even appear in the climax, which has the governor's tubby son whipping out moves from "Dead or Alive 2" with that sort of Charlie's Angels-ish gradually-sped-up slow-motion, dash-delimited wire-fu. The over-the-top obscenity of the musical interludes -- one by R&B crooners Three Times One Minus One and the other by Jack Black as an animation-accompanied chimney sweep -- are other stand-outs. Portions like those, along with the 'gay conspiracy' sequence, rarely have anything to do with the meat of the story, seeming to indicate that Bob, David, and company should have taken a similarly less conventional approach with the rest of the film.
Oh, and then there are the cameos. One scene has Dave Foley, Andy Richter, and Sarah Silverman in a room with Bob and David, and for a brief, shimmering moment, I thought I'd attained some sort of comedy-geek nirvana. R. Lee Ermey, Nikki Cox, David Koechner, Jeff Goldblum, Kathy Griffin, Scott Ian, Laura Kightlinger, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mandy Patinkin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, John Stamos, Garry Shandling, Ben Stiller, Patrick Warburton, and Scott Thompson (the latter responsible for one of the movie's best moments), among a handful of others I didn't instantly recognize, also put in appearances.
I wouldn't expect Run Ronnie Run! to hold much mainstream appeal, but Mr. Show devotees will still find Run Ronnie Run! to be well-worth a look, even if it doesn't live up to its source material as well as it probably should. The movie also hasn't gotten the mindless dump on DVD that some fans were expecting. Despite having contributed commentaries to each and every episode from the first three seasons of Mr. Show, Bob and David don't rear their heads on this DVD's selection of supplements, though an assortment of deleted scenes and a few other video extras have been tacked on. Run Ronnie Run! also sports solid anamorphic widescreen video and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
Video: Some reviewers seem to grade on a curve when it comes to low-budget flicks, but like Super Troopers before it, Run Ronnie Run!'s 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is proof positive that a modestly budgeted film can look every bit as great as a movie with tens of millions of dollars more tossed at the screen. Run Ronnie Run! looks stellar, boasting a detailed, razor-sharp appearance and a remarkably vivid palette. Some mild grain does creep in intermittently, but not to any particularly intrusive level, and almost certainly nothing beyond what could be spotted during its very limited screenings at Sundance and the like. Print flaws such as speckling and wear are completely absent. The shot-on-tape TV sequences obviously don't look quite as nice as the rest of the film, but by design, and presumably the same could be said for the softer, noisier Three Times One Minus One interlude. It's a really nice presentations, and fans who have suffered through low-resolution, grainy MPEG files downloaded over the Internet ought to be astonished by the difference.
Audio: For much of the movie, Run Ronnie Run!'s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (448Kbps) is yer usual comedy mix: dialogue up front, rears reinforcing the score and providing general ambiance, and the subwoofer's low-end wallop limited mostly to music scattered throughout. Run Ronnie Run! doesn't diverge from that expected formula often, but it sounds great when it veers off towards a different path. In one sequence from "Fuzz", a cameraman and a gaggle of cops chase Ronnie through a house, and the placement of sounds in each individual speaker and pans as they dash around really take advantage of the six channels at its disposal. The Three Times One Minus One musical interlude summons a hellish amount of bass, and nearly every second of the hostage showdown, including the power being flipped off and a series of shotgun blasts, is accompanied by a low-frequency boom. The mix does a respectable job throughout and really impresses when given the opportunity.
This DVD also includes a stereo surround track (192Kbps), English subtitles, and closed captions.
Supplements: Run Ronnie Run has an "All Access Pass" (still possibly the weakest title ever for an extras menu) with a few supplements. First up is a gallery of eight alternate and deleted scenes, running a little over fifteen minutes total. There's a sequence where Terry first meets Tammy, Ronnie's continued trail of destruction at a bowling alley, another series pitched to the suits at the network, Bob and David breaking the fourth wall, an extended take on Jack Black's "The Golden Rule Song", and the Mop Mania of a quasi-alternate ending. It's pretty easy to see why most of them were cut out, though the Mop Mania bit has a couple of laughs. My two favorite snippets of footage were the shortest ones: a 'children's film' with a mutilated bird and a spoof on teen flicks with Breckin Meyer and Jamie Kennedy.
There's also a video for Three Times One Minus One's "The Greatest Love in History", different than the interlude in the film. It's also one of the only 16x9-enhanced music videos I've seen plopped on a DVD, alongside the unwatchable two-line song on the Jack Frost 2: Return of the Mutant Killer Snowman disc. Both the excised footage and the music video sports Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio (192Kbps).
Rounding out the extras is an anamorphic widescreen trailer (2:21), presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (448Kbps). There are also seven and a half minutes of trailers for other New Line films, similarly 16x9-enhanced and with six-channel Dolby Digital audio. These previews include Highwaymen, Will Ferrell's Elf, A Man Apart, and The Real Cancun.
I don't have the final packaging for Run Ronnie Run! on-hand, although presumably it's like New Line's recent DVD output and comes in a keepcase of some sort. The disc features a set of animated 16x9-enhanced menus, and the movie has been divided into seventeen chapters.
Conclusion: Run Ronnie Run! is essential viewing for even the most casual fans of Mr. Show, though I wouldn't suggest it as a starting point for the uninitiated. Recommended.
Related Links: DVD Talk also has reviews of HBO's Mr. Show DVD sets. The official Run Ronnie Run site doesn't have much of interest, but maybe that'll change between now and street date.