Bowfinger appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While parts of the movie looked fine, too many problems came along for the ride.
For the most part, sharpness was good. I noticed mild edge enhancement through the film, and some shots tended to be a little iffy. However, most of the flick showed solid delineation. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, but source flaws were surprisingly prominent. Given that the DVD debuted about five months after the flick hit the big screen, I’d expect a clean presentation. Unfortunately, quite a few examples of marks, specks, nicks and spots appeared. These weren’t heavy, but they created a lot more distractions than I anticipated.
Colors usually appeared positive. The movie went with a warm, natural palette that mostly satisfied. On a few occasions, I thought the hues became a bit too intense, but the colors generally looked nice. Blacks were reasonably dark and deep, and shadows tended to be acceptably clear, though a few shots were somewhat dense. The inconsistent elements combined with the print flaws made this a “C” presentation.
While not an ambitious mix, the 5.1 audio of Bowfinger suited the film quite nicely. Both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks appeared on this DVD. I flipped between them as I watched the movie and also rewatched many segments to attempt to detect a difference.
What'd I hear? Not much discrepancy. In fact, the only noticeable difference stemmed from the fact that the DTS track was decidedly louder than the Dolby mix; eliminate that factor and I think the two would sound virtually identical.
Bowfinger boasted a fairly decent front soundstage and created an overall three-dimensional ambience that's quite good. This wasn't Saving Private Ryan, so there's little bombast, but the mix utilized the five discrete channels well and provided a pretty realistic atmosphere. The best scenes were those such as the one in which Jiff had to cross the crowded highway; traffic noises whizzed past you effectively.
The quality of the audio seemed fine. Although I occasionally noticed a slightly harsh edge to the speech, dialogue seemed clear and natural; I must note that sometimes speech did appear to get a little lost in the mix, though not with great frequency.
Music seemed a little trebly but featured some strong bass and appeared generally well-reproduced. Ironically, effects were probably the most consistently strong aspect of the audio; these always appeared realistic and provided a surprising impact. Bowfinger won't win any awards for sound design, but it's a perfectly competent complement to the onscreen action.
When we head to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Frank Oz. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that looks at story issues and editing, sets and locations, cast and performances, set design and cinematography, and a few other topics.
When I first listened to this track back in early 2000, I didn’t care for it. Maybe I’ve just heard more than my fair share of truly crummy commentaries over the last 15 years, but now I can’t figure out why I disliked Oz’s chat.
Sure, he indulges in some of the usual happy talk, but he also gives us many nice insights into the production. I especially like his notes about cut scenes and improvised bits. This turns into a generally satisfying discussion.
Next up is a 23-minute promotional documentary about the film called Spotlight On Location. As with many studio-produced pieces, this one largely serves to tell us how terrific the movie is. It offers interview snippets from all the main actors and Oz and intercuts these with film scenes and some on-the-set shots.
“Spotlight” lacks any kind of real "making of..." emphasis and reveals very little about the creative processes behind the film. Still, it's pleasant and entertaining and seems to be a more substantial piece than most of these featurettes; it ain't great, but it's worth a watch.
Two deleted scenes fill about five and a half minutes. One offers an alternate version of the bit in which Bowfinger tells his friends about the project, and the other is an unused piece in which Bowfinger searches for Kit's address. The latter is pretty funny, actually, and the former is good but a bit lengthy. Oz refers to many other deleted scenes in his commentary, so it's strange this is all we find. Nonetheless, I enjoyed being able to see them.
The DVD also contains about three minutes of outtakes. I despise the usual "Whoops! I blew my line! Ha ha ha!" outtakes that dominate this genre, but these were better than most. That's because mixed in with the goofs are some unused takes of scenes that are quite amusing; Murphy tosses in a line to describe Jiff's "encounter" with Daisy that's absolutely hilarious – and one I plan to steal for my own use, thank you very much! As such, these outtakes are much more entertaining than most.
We also find many promos. Not only does the DVD include the trialer for Bowfinger, but also get ads for The Hurricane (in the "Universal Showcase" section) plus clips for Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, and EdTV (all in the "Recommendations" area).
Finally, the DVD features mediocre biographies for six of the actors and for Oz, and there are production notes on the disc as well; I found those to be mildly interesting but not more than that.
We’ve seen plenty of Hollywood parodies over the years, but few amuse as well as Bowfinger. It doesn’t reinvent any wheels, but it uses excellent performances from a terrific cast to turn into a consistently enjoyable flick. The DVD suffers from erratic picture quality but comes with pretty good audio and supplements highlighted by a good commentary and some fun cut footage. This never turns into a terrific release, but the movie is so memorable that it still earns my recommendation.