Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I don't think it would be giving away any secrets to tell you that Mrs. B has a thing for mindless action movies. The sound you are now hearing is the collective thud of all the jaws of the married men out there hitting the floor. How did you do it, they are all saying, catch a woman who is not only an aerobics instructor, but who likes mindless action flicks?? Two words, my friends: Bass. Guitar. Go and learn.
Anyway, so while it is no secret that she goes for this genre, it may be less well-known that she has a special place in her heart for Jason Statham. It's easy to see why she likes the bald, built, British bloke. He's fun to watch, and even guys can enjoy his films without feeling too threatened. He's had supporting parts in a number of films, but first really grabbed our attention with The Transporter, easily one of Mrs. B's favorite films. Personally, I think the best part of that picture is the awesome soundtrack by Stanley Clarke, which can best be described as two parts bass and one part car horn.
So when we heard that Statham's latest movie, Crank, was coming out on DVD, it was a no-brainer. She returned from one of her aerobics classes with DVD in hand, having passed Blockbuster on the way home. Of course, we knew absolutely nothing about the film. But what was there to know? It's Jason Statham! The guy just has to stand still and strike that Bruce Lee pose, and everybody has a good time!
And the DVD case certainly wasn't going to give anything away. Nope, try as we might, we could get absolutely no idea of what the movie was about by looking at or reading the box. Fair enough. What did grab Mrs. B's attention was the very prominent notation that this DVD featured a "Family-Friendly Audio Mode."
Now, take a few moments, and imagine exactly what that could mean.
When we got our first DVD player, way back in 1999, and brought home our first DVD, and saw that it was capable of offering a choice of soundtracks, offering the ability to have different scenes, even different cuts of a film on one disk, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Finally, I thought. I can have the option to watch a kid-friendly version of some of my favorite films!
Because there are tons of great movies out there that would be fine to watch when the kids are up, except for the peppering of four-letter words, or the five-second obligatory topless scene, that basically relegates the film to be hidden away somewhere and watched only after the kids are safely tucked into bed. Which works when the kids are small. The problem is, kids get bigger. And they stay up later. And pretty soon there's no time to watch a film with naughty words that kids might blunder into.
So I said to Mrs. B, Wow, wouldn't it be great if they used this new DVD technology for goodness, to offer us a choice to watch a safe-for-TV version of our favorite films (and of course, leave the regular version intact for late-night goodness)? But they did not. Instead, they used it for rottenness. To give us our choice of different Stereo configurations, Spanish, French, or even worse, a bunch of commentaries from the second assistant gaffer for those evenings when we had trouble falling asleep on our own. (Actually, I like the commentaries). But in 9 years of DVD releases I had yet to see a movie come out that allowed parents to watch it in the living room without fear.
Until now, when Crank came out with its "Family-Friendly Audio Mode." Why, I almost did a little dance when she read this to me. I can't believe somebody listened! I was so excited.
So, we went down to the basement to watch the flick on the HDTV. This really is a nice DVD to show off your new set. However, family mode or not, this is not a nice DVD to show to your family.
I can only conclude that "Family-Friendly Audio Mode" was offered up as some kind of weird, inside joke. Actually, it's pretty funny, when you think about it. It's funny to have a soundtrack where they replace all the F-bombs (which make up...oh...60 percent of all the words in the script) with variations of the word "freak" and replace sh*t (that's the other 40 percent there) with "stuff", as in "Yo, man, that freakin' stuff ain't free," while at the same time leaving in the graphic violence (a hand gets chopped off by a meat cleaver, for example), scenes of drug use (actually, drug use is seen as very positive in terms of propelling the plot), nudity, and several sex scenes.
It really lends new meaning to the term "Family-Friendly." Maybe if your family is the Mansons. Fortunately, Mrs. B and I were fairly unfriendly to our children in that we kicked them out of the basement before watching this thing. Thank goodness for that.
I still hold out hope for the whole "Family-Friendly" viewing experience. I would like to see more (appropriate) films get the treatment. There are, as I said, plenty of films that would be just fine if a scene or two could be skipped, and a few words replaced. Better yet, and this may be a revolutionary thought, maybe just omit those parts altogether when making the film, since in my experience, they add nothing to its enjoyment, just jack up the rating.
Oh, and Mr. Statham...you can do better than this.