WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Oh, this is a sad state of affairs. I used to be an admiring Rodney Dangerfield fan—he absolutely busts my gut every time I watch Caddyshack, and I was impressed by his dramatic turn in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. I even have a guilty-pleasure appreciation for Back to School. Unfortunately, Dangerfield's career has experienced a slow, sad decline over the past decade, and now he elicits winces and frowns far more often than laughs. If he's not careful, he'll find himself along the same pathetic trajectory that the late 3 Stooges experienced. Or maybe he's already there, as evidenced by the disaster that is The 4th Tenor.
Dangerfield plays Lupo, unlikely owner of a popular Italian bistro that offers entertainment as well as its renowned menu. New to the restaurant is the lovely singer Gina (Annabelle Gurwitch), with whom Lupo promptly falls deeply in love. Much to Lupo's distress, this is a bitter case of unrequited love, as Gina is actively repulsed by his affections. In a desperate attempt to shrug him off, she tells him that only a fabulous opera singer can sweep her off her feet. So Lupo is on a quest to become that opera singer. The rest of the story finds Lupo traveling to Italy to fulfill that quest, encountering lots of sleazy types—such as Ierra (Robert Davi) and Vincenzo (Richard Libertini)—as well as a new potential love interest in the form of Rosa (Anita De Simone). Will Lupo discover the secret to singing opera and steal the heart of the feisty Gina?
What most saddens me about The 4th Tenor is Dangerfield's physical appearance. Admittedly, even in youth, he probably looked haggard and strange, but now he looks terrible, packing on makeup and speaking with a slur. (Reportedly, he underwent brain surgery not long after this production, and I can't help but jump to an assumption...) Dangerfield also boasts co-writing duties on the film, and the jokes only leave you shaking your head, aghast. There's an air of desperation to the film that is quite difficult to bear.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Warner presents The 4th Tenor in a pretty-good anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's 1.85:1 straight-to-video presentation. Detail is admirable, if not stunning. Colors seem accurate, if a bit too pink.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's Dolby Digital 5.1 track is nothing to shout about, but it offers a good presentation for the film. The front soundstage is relatively static, sounding rooted at the center, but surround activity is pretty good, offering ambient crowd noise such as applause. Dialog is clean and accurate.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
You get three ho-hum Deleted Scenes, a short Featurette, and the film's Trailer. I was too saddened to pay much attention.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
Let's just quietly sweep this terrible film under the rug and instead plop our trusty copies of Caddyshack into the player.