Monday, March 8, 2010

Funny Farm/Spies Like Us Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 32.7 GB
Spies Like Us Film Size: 16.4 GB
Funny Farm Film Size: 16.2 GB
Film Ratings: PG
Region: ABC

The Video
Funny Farm and Spies Like Us debut on Blu-ray with 1080p VC-1 video presentations on one BD-50 Blu-ray disc. The results are certainly a mixed bag, but I would not blame the transfers themselves. Believe it or not, both high-def transfers blow away their previous DVD releases. You may not believe it at first as the prints are quite unspectacular at times, but a quick comparison and you may think differently.

Both films are quite grainy and quite soft. Detail is never particular impressive, but there are some good moments of detail to be had. There is a very good improvement in overall clarity from DVD, everything is much sharper and easier to appreciate.

Grain haters may find themselves hating these transfers, but it is part of both films and luckily Warner Bros. reframed from scrubbing all the grain away as we could have definitely been in for a much worse experience had they chosen to do so.

To be honest, I think many viewers will likely find themselves a bit disappointed upfront, I’ve noticed a couple of people saying this is one of the weaker high-def releases they have seen. Those with DVD versions of this film should quickly appreciate the upgrade though as this is the first time these movies have been released in their original widescreen aspect ratio.

Colors are a bit stronger on Spies Like Us, they just have more life and add a lot to the high-def transfer. Funny Farm is certainly the softer of the two films and colors at times can be quite unspectacular, but even they are improved from DVD. Black levels were fine on both transfers, but I wish they were a bit inkier particularly on Spies Like Us.

Despite Funny Farm being the softer of the films, Funny Farm features the biggest upgrade of both titles. The DVD is a terrible mess and the Blu-ray while far from perfect improves everything greatly. Neither transfer will blow away any viewer, but there are plenty of reasons to upgrade to this affordable high-def double feature of films.

Both high-def encodes are quite healthy and are free of any serious issues. Let’s be honest, neither film will ever get a cleanup which they could use at times, but this is easily the best either film has looked and I think many will enjoy for that reason alone. 6.5/10.

The Audio
A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for both films and both are as expected, unspectacular. These are comedies, which are typically known to be less impressive audio-wise on Blu-ray (although we have some nice surprises from time to time). Add the fact that both films were released in the 80’s and you can certainly get a solid idea of what to expect.

Both mixes of course are extremely front heavy and everything is presented front and center. Dialogue is generally easy to understand despite some hiss present at times. The film’s sound effects also come through the front and are also easy to understand and get the job done.

I do have to commend Warner Bros. for finally stepping up their game on Blu-ray, two years ago and even last year, the chances of a mono track receiving the lossless treatment would at times be too much to expect from the studio. There are some unforgivable lossy releases, but at least the trend is not continuing, and I am hoping this is the case for all future releases.

The tracks are definitely as good as I think they will ever be. Neither was ever impressive and neither will ever be impressive. The films could get a 5.1 mix in the future, but who is to say either film will ever get a rerelease on Blu-ray.

Overall I think both audio experiences are fine and present everything about as clear as one could expect. Neither audio track is very impressive to be honest and there are certainly better tracks from the 80’s on Blu-ray, but I am quite pleased by the results and think most viewers will as well. 6/10.

The Extras
Like almost all of the Warner Bros. Double Features, extras are not included on this release. 0/10.

The Movies
Funny Farm and Spies Like Us are now available on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. in one of their new Double Feature Blu-ray releases. Both films are included on one BD-50 Blu-ray disc and I have to say I am definitely embracing these high-def releases.

I do think we will get a lot of titles this way that would likely otherwise not come to Blu-ray for years if at all due to the quality of certain films in high-definition. Let’s face it, as much as I would love everything to be crystal clear and looking like a new release, it’s just not going to happen and not every film could even come close with a proper cleanup.

I don’t think video or audio quality is sacrificed on these Blu-ray releases as Warner Bros. always tends to be smaller encodes regardless of disc size or film release. Had they been released separately, I do believe this is the same encodes we would see on individual discs, only BD25 Blu-ray discs instead.

Funny Farm stars the very funny and very talented Chevy Chase, a man who needs no introduction when it comes to some of the greatest comedies from the 80’s and 90’s in particular. In Funny Farm, Chevy Chase plays a Manhattan sports-writer who moves to a rural life with his wife, but little did they know what to expect.

The film is directed by George Roy Hill who is known for movies such as Slap Shot, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Period of Adjustment. Funny Farm was the last film he directed before he retired. He passed away on December 27th, 2002.

Dan Akroyd joins Chevy Chase in Spies Like Us, another man who also needs no introduction due to his extensive list of comedies. Spies Like Us is about two government desk jockeys who became U.S. spies but are used as decoys rather than the men getting the job done.

Spies Like Us was directed by John Landis, a man who has made some fantastic films but also faced some serious controversy with ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie’ and the deadly accident which killed actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen in such tragic ways.

Regardless of the accident and what people may think of him, he has made some amazing films and music videos that will never be forgotten. The man did direct Michael Jackson’s infamous “Thriller” music video, something that will always be considered one of the best music videos ever created.

Both films are great classic comedies from the 80’s that I think many viewers will absolutely love to revisit. The films are still very funny and I really give a lot of credit to Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd who were given funny material to work with, but ultimately made it theirs. Neither film is necessarily among the best comedies of the time, but they are both very funny and hold up surprisingly well. 7.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Funny Farm and Spies Like Us are currently available exclusively at Best Buy stores in the U.S. and are available throughout Canada as well. Both films on one BD-50 Blu-ray disc for a great price make this one release that will be hard for fans to resist.

The video presentations of both are accurate to the source as are the audio mixes. Extras are not to be found on this release, but hardly a loss in this situation. Overall this Double Feature is 'Recommended' to fans and 'Worth A Look' to all others.

Additional Screenshots:

This Double Feature is available exclusively at Best Buy.

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