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Reviewers here at DVDTalk aren't paid, but we do get to keep the free DVDs that we are sent to review. Site owner Geoff Kleinman receives promotional copies of discs, both HD and standard definition, and he puts them up on a list. Reviewers can select movies and series that they think they'd enjoy watching and those discs get mailed to them for review. Occasionally there's a disc that sits and sits and sits on the list that absolutely no one wants to review. In those cases it's up to some kind soul to volunteer to take one for the team. This time it's my turn. I felt sorry for the poor Blu-ray disc of Delta Farce that no one wanted and figured 'how bad could this movie be? Surely there must be some laughs." Well, I was wrong. Not only is this film devoid of humor, but the jokes that are in it are old, the acting strained and the movie itself is not presented with its original aspect ratio. If there was ever a disc to avoid, this is it.
Larry (Larry the Cable Guy), Bill (Bill Engvall) and Everett (DJ Qualls, who played Kyle, the skinny guy, in Road Trip) are three red-neck losers who are down on their luck. Larry's ultra-hot girl friend just broke up with him after revealing that she was pregnant and the baby wasn't his, and that caused him to lose his job. (Apparently...they mention it in the film, but that scene was cut out, so it's a bit confusing.) Bill's married to a demanding wife and has two rotten kids, and Everett has just gotten kicked out of the storage unit he was living in (with a blow up doll as a room mate.) To make matters worse, as the trio go to their Army Reserve weekend, they find that they're now under the command of Sgt. Kilgore (Keith David). The new Sgt. not only works them to near death, but ends up getting these weekend warriors sent to Iraq too.
While on the cargo plane to their new assignment, all three of them fall asleep in a Hummer. Unfortunately when rough weather hits, the vehicle and its passengers are jettisoned from the plane and land safely in Mexico. (Why they were passing over Mexico is never addressed.) Waking up the next morning, the three soldiers discover that they're in the middle of a desert, and assume that it's Iraq. Taking their Hummer across the desolate land, they eventually run across a village that's being attacked by a group of bandits lead by Carlos Santana (Danny Trejo). Assuming there're terrorists (either "Turds" or "Shit-ites") they attack and repel the bandits. They'll be back however, and in force.
Here's a quick way to see if you'll enjoy this movie: when you read the sergeant's name, Kilgore, did you laugh until your sides hurt? If you did, you'll really like this film. If, on the other hand, you thought "Kill-gore. Yeah, I get it. I've heard that before." you'll have the same reaction that I did: ennui. This is a really, really poor movie. The jokes and gags are either telegraphed way ahead of time or they are so old that they're no longer funny. A good example is the bumper sticker on the Humvee: "Gas, Grass, or Ass: No one rides for free." That was funny the first time I saw it, about 1980 or so. Now it's not. To make matters worse they make a point of showing the sticker twice! They even stoop so low as to steal the old joke about dying in your sleep: I'd rather die peacefully in my sleep like my uncle than screaming in terror like his passengers. The only thing is that they butchered the joke. The way it's presented in the film wouldn't be funny even if you've never heard it before.
The movie had a horrible sense of comedic timing too. Even my kids could spot the jokes coming from a long way off. When Everett urinates in a canteen they correctly predicted that someone would end up accidentally drinking it. Don't get me wrong, someone drinking piss is funny. Ya don't get much funnier than that, but such a broad joke has to be handled with a bit of finesse.
The actors seemed to sense that this movie had no comedic value and walked through it. Larry the Cable Guy (who was the only one who had his first name on his Army uniform) had a hard time delivering some of his lines convincingly. This was especially true of his catch-phrase, "Git-R-Done", which was forced into the script with a crowbar. In a running gag, Larry continually gets the Army's slogan wrong. After the first time its painfully obvious that he'll go through all the branches of the military before hitting on the right phrase at the end of the movie. It was almost embarrassing watching these comedians with such a bad script. Didn't anyone realize that this just wasn't going to work? (I guess Jeff Foxworthy did, since he didn't appear in the movie.)
The Blu-ray Disc:
Well, I guess it was only a matter of time. Soon after the first SD DVDs were released a decade ago, the dreaded pan and scan versions started showing up. Now reformatted images are showing up on high definition discs. Originally presented theatrically with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this BD only has a 1.78:1 image which will nicely fit a 16X9 screen. (The irony that this was done on a movie about trailer-trash red necks isn't lost on me.) The back of the case states that the film is the "16X9 widescreen version" which I suppose is now the new code for "formatted to fit your screen." While this is objectionable it isn't a huge deal. On most displays the difference between the two aspect ratios is barely noticeable, only a few scan lines. Of course this makes one wonder if the difference is so small, why alter it in the first place.
Aside from the formatting problem, the disc was pretty good over all, and very good in places. As much as I disliked the movie itself there was a very good level of detail and the image just popped of the screen in places. There were just as many spots where the image looked flat and lifeless, but it never looked bad. The colors, mainly dark greens and browns, were strong and life like and the skin tones looked fine. On the digital side of things, there was some aliasing in places, a bit more than I was expecting, but it was never distracting. (Check out the American flag on the uniform sleeves as the camera pans over it.) Posterization and blocking weren't a problem.
This Blu-ray disc offers viewers the choice of a DD EX 5.1 soundtrack or an uncompressed 7.1 PCM track. Yep, that's not a typo. Why Lions Gate decided to go whole hog with the audio on this release is a mystery, but I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. The problem is that the sound design of this film is very weak and the movie doesn't benefit from the HD audio track. The first word that comes to mind when thinking about the audio is feeble. There isn't much in the way of sound effects except in the few battle scenes that are over way too quickly. Afterwards an occasional chicken cluck is about all that's offered. (Mexican villages always have invisible hens walking around clucking.) Even the battle scenes weren't as forceful as they could. These are more problems with the film itself rather than the reproduction on the disc, just don't go into this movie expecting a very exciting soundtrack.
The bonus items start off with a very dry commentary by director CB Harding. He's directed three Blue Collar Comedy Tour specials, among other things, and you'd except that he'd have more interesting things to say about this movie. He talks about setting up the shots, and includes some behind the scene anecdotes, but overall this is a fairly dull commentary.
There are six featurettes on the disc which run between 1 and 8 minutes each. Most of these are the cast talking about their roles intercut with copious scenes from the movie. If they had left out the movie excerpts these would have run half the time. There's nothing really interesting or informative to be found in any of these. The good news is that they are all presented in 1080p.
The five deleted scenes run about four minutes and fill in some of the gaps in the film (Larry getting fired from his job for one.) The gag reel last 8 minutes which is about 7 minutes too long. Ironically entitled White People Are Funny, there's not a laugh to be had. These last two are only found on the Blu-ray release but for some odd reason they are in 480i. *sigh* So close and yet so far.
The bonus section wraps up with a photo gallery and three trailers, though the trailer for Delta Farce isn't among them.
This movie just isn't funny. At all. That is reason enough to avoid it. Though the image looks pretty good, I still have a problem with the studio reformatting the image, no matter how minor the change is. Just skip it.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.