It's time to say hello again to Mr. Rock N' Roll Detective in what may be the best value available on DVD right now.
Shunned by audiences and panned by most critics upon its release in 1990, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane has gained a cult status over the years, thanks partially to strong word of mouth from fans of the film – but mostly because, as first-time viewers will quickly note, this happens to be a darn entertaining movie.
When the film came out in 1990, it pretty much pushed the envelope on how raunchy dialogue could get in a theatrical release. Today, the movie has lost much of its "bite", but it still retains all of its charm. Andrew Dice Clay, who has never quite been able to make the jump to mainstream success, is near perfect in his portrayal of Fairlane – hitting all the right notes and providing plenty of genuine laughs. If this proves to be the only major movie role in his career, it is one for which he should be awfully proud.
The story here is kind of inconsequential – as it merely serves as a basis for the comedy, but it revolves around Fairlane trying to track down a missing girl, solve the death of the lead singer of a heavy metal band, and match wits with the likes of Robert Englund, Ed O'Neill, Priscilla Presley and Wayne Newton.
Director Renny Harlin helmed The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and he does so with such pizzazz and flair, that the movie has almost a kind of pulp comic book look and feel to it. Ford Fairlane may ultimately be a comedy, but cinematically it has the appearance of Harlin's other big-budget thrillers. As a result, the movie turns out to be a feast for both the eyes and the ears.
While Side A of this double-sided disc gives us the full-frame version of the film, Side B offers up a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen version, that looks about the same in quality as the old laserdisc release. Some grain and occasional dirt is apparent on the print, and there is an overall lack of sharpness to many scenes. However, the transfer still retains the vibrant colors of the film – so overall, the quality of the picture is about average for a DVD release of a movie that's about 14 years old.
No 5.1 or DTS track here, but viewers do get a pretty nice sounding 2.0 Dolby Track, as well as the option of listening in Spanish or French Mono.
For such a reasonably priced DVD (retail is $9.98, but most online sites and stores will offer it for much less), Fox has done a commendable job with the bonus material.
Both sides of the disc include a brand-new Feature Length Commentary Track with director Renny Harlin. When I first read the specs on the box cover, I feared that this might be the same director's commentary that Harlin recorded back when the movie was released on laserdisc. But to my pleasant surprise, I'm happy to report to fans that this is a totally new track that was recorded recently. Harlin does a great job with his commentary – never wasting time stating the obvious, but going into stories about the shoot, the actors and ways he felt he could have made the film better.
On Side A only is the Theatrical Trailer for the film, which is anamorphic, plus a full frame version of Billy Idol's Cradle of Love Music Video. On Side B only is a roughly six-minute Featurette that was made during the time of filming to promote the movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Though it's still not recommended for anyone under the age of 16, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane is one of those great films from the last decade that never really got the attention or praise it deserved. Those who have already seen and enjoyed it have probably already picked up their copies, but for those who haven't checked it out – it's a movie worth adding to your collection. As Ford himself would say, "This movie is so terrific, it has its own toll-free number: 1-800-UNBELIEVABLE!"