The Ron White Show
Sony Pictures // Unrated // $14.94 // June 6, 2006
Review by Bill Gibron | posted June 2, 2006
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The Product:
It was bound to happen. You can't have the kind of success that the Blue Collar Comedy boys have experienced and not see a sudden influx of cash-in attempts. While Larry the Cable Guy somehow managed to get himself into a solo starring vehicle (the hilarious if half-assed Health Inspector) and, even more perplexing, some voice-over work with Pixar (he's a redneck truck in Cars), the others have stuck mostly to stage work. Indeed, Ron White has released a couple of in-concert DVDs as part of his continuing rise to glory. Now, comes a real retail quandary, something from Sony entitled The Ron White Show. From all outward appearances, what we have here is a failed variety show pilot featuring the scotch-infused NASCAR dandy. At a mere 22 minutes, and with no other added content offered, the rationale behind this release is suspect at best. White is usually a funny guy, but the flop sweat on this thing is so pervasive that you'll need to towel off after a single viewing.

The Plot:
Taking the stage in Sin City, Las Vegas, White introduces several sketches, some featuring a few prominent C-list guest stars. First up, White determines that what his series needs is showgirls, and so we get a music montage piece where the comic rides around town, picking up the statuesque gals at various unlikely locales (gun range, Laundromat). Next we see an animated version of White as he explores the comic possibilities of mixing his cornpone wisecracks with cartooning. Dr. Phil shows up to broker a truce between feuding buddies White and…Dave Attel? Another swing into pen and ink land, and we get the show's set-piece, a real life wedding between two fans. Once again, the musical montages gears up, with White supplying both the bachelor AND bachelorette parties. Add in a couple of minutes of stand-up and you've filled out the mandated 22 minute time frame. BFD.

The DVD:
Call it a special or a junked attempt at a weekly TV gig, but The Ron White Show is really nothing more than 22 minutes of mindless crap comedy. Frankly, this smart, savvy stand up deserves better. His is a humor based in defeat and humiliation, 20 years of trying to break into the big time and sudden, sensationalized success. If this was the reward he was aiming for, the final prize after decades of struggling, he should have quit while he was a failure. This is a depressingly bad piece of garbage, a watered down version of what White truly stands for. Sure, he plays the party boy persona for all its worth. It has always been his performance bread and butter. But to reduce him to a bumpkin Dean Martin, an inebriated son of the soil staining the big city with his liquored up lunacy is really not fair. White loves to use this notion to knock preconceptions and attack archetypes. Sure, he may seem like a drunken good old boy, but there is an impish glint in his eyes that suggests a higher knowledge and purpose. None of that is evident here. Instead, we get monkey jokes, animated nudity, and the standard Vegas variables of cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women. Everything is then filtered through a demographic homogenizer to guarantee that all wit, cleverness and intelligence is weeded out.

The result is worse than bad – it's BORING. White usually has a punchline or two that transcends his inbred hick shtick, but this entire show suffers from an incestual need to be everything to everyone. Take the showgirl opening. White runs around Vegas like a moron, stopping off at obvious obscure places to pick up his gals. They are all fetching enough, but the only truly comic moment comes when they all sit down to one of those notoriously cheap Vegas lobster and prime rib dinners. Here, instead of standing around showing off their cleavage, the gals dig into their meals, chowing down with unbridled gusto. It would be a great moment, if only The Ron White Show knew what to do with it. Similarly, the wedding could have broken stereotypes instead of resorting to strippers (both female AND male) to sell the bit. Much of the guest star material is groan inducing. Dr. Phil once again proves that he's a better therapist than thespian (and that's not saying much) while Dave Attel looks lost among this conservative comic shell. While it seems silly to lambaste a show for failing to capitalize on a comedian's inherent skills, The Ron White Show is different. It doesn't even try to work within White's abilities. It just sticks him in a standard variety void and hopes for the best. It gets bunk instead.

The Video:
Presented in a pristine 1.33:1 full screen image, The Ron White Show looks good. The glamour of Vegas really comes across in the transfer's neon shuffle, and there are no video issues like flaring, ghosting or bleeding to worry about. Even the animated segments show a level of presentation professionalism that the writing staff obviously lacks.

The Audio:
Standard Stereo, that's all. No indication of a Dolby Digital dimension, and from a review of the playback, it's hard to tell if this is true two speaker or mono mixed to fill both channels. In any event, the sonic dynamics are fine, with easily discernible dialogue and a crisp, clean sense of spatial ambience. While it's nothing spectacular, it does the job.

The Extras:
Unless you consider trailers for Monty Python and the Holy Grail (???) and other non-related product proper DVD bonus features, this is a bare bones release, from the miniscule running time of the disc itself (22 minutes, remember) to the lack of anything complementing White's efforts. In fact, it needs to be said again. White deserves better.

Final Thoughts:
This is an easy one. Skip It. Avoid It. Unless you are a White completist who must see everything this man has ever done in the name of comedy, reach for something like They Call Me Tater Salad or You Can't Fix Stupid. There are more laughs in the first 30 seconds of each of those titles than in the entirety of this sloppy solo showcase. Granted, it's got to be tough finding something that fits White's unusual persona. He's not a trailer trash titan like Larry or a Grand Old Opry oddity like a certain Mr. Foxworthy. He's like old Southern money gone very, very bad. As a result, he doesn't fit into the standard formulaic funny business. Sadly, that's all The Ron White Show has to offer. It's a humor handout that should instantly be rejected.

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