While "Airheads" will never be considered an equal to "This Is Spinal Tap", it at least proves to be a consistently amusing comedy that's livened by the talented comedic skills of its three main leads. Brendan Fraser ("The Mummy"), Steve Buscemi ("Fargo") and Adam Sandler ("Happy Gilmore") star as "The Lone Rangers" a metal band whose success just isn't happening, yet.
One day, the band walks into a radio station attempting to get their latest song played. With their limited combined IQ, they believe that this will be an easy task. Of course, the DJ (Joe Mantegna) and manager (Michael McKean) are reluctant to play the music, until one of them brings out a gun - the three then decide that they have no choice but to take the station hostage. An attempt to get the demo played goes wrong as the ancient machine melts the demo tape.
The only problem is that the group aren't holding real guns, they're holding water pistols. The majority of the movie has the band turning the radio station around, while hostage negotatiors and fans await them outside. A few decent performances of note come from Michael Richards as a station exec who is constantly crawling through the station's ducts and spying on the situation, Ernie Hudson as the head of the police force outside and Chris Farley as a rookie cop. There's even a quick performance from director/actor Harold Ramis as a record exec who makes the band a recording contract offer to end the hostage situation.
Although the screenplay by Rich Wilkes(who also wrote such pictures as "Stoned Age", "Jerky Boys" and "Beer Money") does have a few good jokes here and there as well as a handful of slightly clever comments about the recording industry, one gets the feeling that without the cast, the film wouldn't have been as entertaining. Director Michael Lehmann ("Heathers", "Hudson Hawk") really brought together a talented cast. Buscemi, Sandler and Fraser have the ability to work with the screenplay and bring laughs out of the material and strengthen some gags that may have otherwise come across weaker in the hands of other actors.
In other words, "Airheads" isn't great, but has its own "Dumb and Dumber"-ish charms and respectable performances from the three leads.
VIDEO: I usually expect excellent quality from 20th Century Fox in terms of image quality, whether catalog titles or recent major releases. Aside from a few titles, Fox really often delivers in fine fashion and "Airheads" looks terrific (believe it or not). Although a comedy, "Airheads" was at least filmed with some visual style by cinematographer John Schwartzman (more widely known for his work with Michael Bay). Sharpness and detail are generally strong throughout; the film has a bit of slight softness here and there, but the film maintained a nice, consistently crisp look.
I also noticed very few flaws during the film. The picture was free of irritating edge enhancement and I didn't even see a trace of pixelation. What was equally remarkable was the fact that the print used seemed to be in almost perfect condition. I noticed one or two extremely tiny speckles, but that was it. The presentation showed no signs of further wear, not even marks and certainly no scratches.
Colors looked beautiful throughout the picture, appearing bright, bold and vibrant. Colors looked well-saturated and clean with no instances of smearing or other problems. Black level was generally solid and flesh tones appeared accurate and natural. This really isn't reference quality, but it's still a very nice effort from Fox. It also includes one of the earliest layer changes I think I've ever seen, at 32:59.
SOUND: Looking at the back of the box, I was suprised that "Airheads" is only presented in Dolby Digital 4.0. Looking at the IMDB, apparently the film was not presented in 5.1 in theaters, either. The film presents what one could likely consider a "comedy" mix; there really isn't anything that receives the audio's focus in many of the scenes besides dialogue. The music is the one element that opens things up - the heavy metal songs that populated the soundtrack really had a nice presence when they arrived, sounding respectably bold and bringing some fairly strong power behind them. Some infrequent sound effects are placed in the surrounds, but nothing major. Dialogue generally sounded clear and easily understood, but there were a few instances where it sounded rather unnatural. Nothing remarkable, but a nice sound presentation that's a a step or two above the usual "comedy sound".
MENUS:: Although menus are static, they are nicely designed with film-themed images.
Airheads Special Report: This is a 14 1/2 minute "making of" disguised as a news report. The presentation is purely promotional and simply discusses the film's story, although doing it as a news report is mildly amusing.
Music Videos: "Born To Raise Hell", with ICE-T, Whitfield Crane and Motorhead and "Feed The Gods" by White Zombie.
Trailers/TV Spots: The film's theatrical trailer, as well as a TV spot and international TV spot. Trailers for "Bedazzled", "Monkeybone" and "The Scout" are also included.
Final Thoughts: "Airheads" isn't marvelous, but it is an entertainingly goofy comedy with a few solid jokes and a few good rips on the music industry. It does have a fan base and those folks will likely be pleased with Fox's DVD release, which offers good audio/video quality, but few supplements. The DVD's also nicely priced at $19.99.