Special edition re-releases of DVDs often cause controversy on various forums. On one hand, you’ll frequently hear a clamor to see movie “X” reissued in a new, deluxe package with all the trimmings. However, when this actually occurs, inevitably a chorus arises that complains about how the studios are ripping everyone off with this “double-dipping”.
I find most of these complaints to be a bit silly. While I understand the frustration of someone who spent his money on a DVD just to find a superior copy emerge, it’s not as if this person must get the new disc; if the reissue didn’t exist, that person would still have his old DVD, so why gripe because another option appears?
That said, some validity accompanies a few of the complaints. Anyone who gripes about the continuing series of re-releases done by Columbia-Tristar (CTS) needs to get a life. In almost every case, they’ve replaced DVDs that came out during the early days of the format and the new packages have been superior; from Legends of the Fall to Cliffhanger to Jumanji, CTS have steadily tried to bring much of their back catalog up to snuff, and I applaud these efforts.
However, some reissued DVDs seem to be created in a more cynical light, and those cause me more concern. Buena Vista earned a great deal of consumer contempt back in 1999 when they released fairly basic DVDs of some titles but announced deluxe Criterion Collection versions soon after those simpler discs hit the shelves; the special editions of Armageddon and Rushmore appeared in such a climate. The 2-DVD set of A Bug’s Life wasn’t announced until a few months after the release of the original disc, but that instance also cheesed off a lot of people.
Happily, BV seemed to learn their lesson. Now when they produce a 2-DVD special edition of an animated flick, it’s announced simultaneously along with the more basic version. Even some early odd behavior has been eliminated. For example, although both the basic and the “Collector’s Edition” versions of Tarzan were announced simultaneously, the single-disc package hit the streets a couple of months ahead of the other one, a tactic that seemed to prey upon the impulsive. Now Disney issue both sets at the same time, so even that minor nuisance has been eliminated.
Without Disney to kick around any more, the folks who fret about DVD re-issues have turned toward the practices of Universal. That studio has never shown a reluctance to release multiple versions of the same film; for instance, there are actually six different ways to buy Jurassic Park. However, they’d not jumped on the re-release train until recently. To promote the theatrical appearance of The Mummy Returns, Universal put out a 2-DVD “Ultimate Edition” of 1999’s The Mummy. While the new set was a terrific affair, this decision seemed somewhat odd since the original DVD was very solid. This wasn’t an example of the replacement of an outdated, basic old disc; the “Ultimate Edition” expanded on the original release but didn’t go far beyond it.
Some saw this as a cynical attempt to wring a few more dollars out of “gotta have it all!” collectors. The negative attitude toward the studio’s release patterns increased when they announced a new DVD version of last year’s Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. After all, the original disc just came out five months ago, and it included a very solid complement of extras in addition to fine picture and sound; what possible need could there be for a new disc?
That’s a good question. This DVD is touted as the “Uncensored Director’s Cut”. According to the case, we’ll find “outrageous new scenes and never-before-seen footage”, and that’s true. However, don’t expect a radically different experience, as the movie remains essentially the same. The new shots add only three minutes to the flick’s running time, and they don’t create a new tone for the story.
Honestly, I usually was not very certain which segments were new and which weren’t. I only saw the theatrical cut of Klumps once, so I can’t claim terrific intimate knowledge of the material. To be certain, I clearly recognized that some scenes didn’t appear in the original. Sherman makes an extra crude remark during the mariachi bit, and Granny’s discussion of her lust for Stone Philips is more explicit. Otherwise, I wasn’t terribly sure where the original stopped and the “uncensored” cut began.
According to an essay by director Peter Segal, the material added into the new version was omitted from the theatrical edition due to ratings concerns; the movie would have gotten an “R” had they remained. As I watched this DVD, I got the impression that the MPAA’s representatives probably had more of a problem with the amount of material rather than the actual content of the removed bits. The reinstated footage seemed fairly similar in tone to the shots from the theatrical release; you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that stands out from the original pieces. The MPAA likely took issue with the quantity of the raunchy gags, so some of them had to go to bring it down to “PG-13” standards.
Is the “uncensored” cut of Klumps any funnier than the original? I don’t think so. I gave a thorough summary of my opinion of the theatrical cut in my review of that DVD, so please consult it if you’d like to check out the details. To summarize, I thought that Klumps was an erratic but surprisingly entertaining and funny piece; it easily surpassed my expectations.
The “uncensored” version continues to be witty and watchable. While the new material doesn’t really add anything to the experience, it doesn’t detract from it either. Frankly, I have no preference between the two cuts; they both work equally well.
So is there any reason for someone who owns the original DVD of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps to pursue the new disc? Is it preferable for anyone who possesses neither package? Do I think Universal really hosed the consumer when it came to this new release? All of those opinions will come in due time after I assess the quality of the DVD itself; for the impatient, my thoughts on those matters will appear at the end of this review.
Nutty Professor II: The Klumps 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. As a whole, this picture strongly resembled that of the original disc; a few small differences existed, but not many.
For the most part, sharpness seemed crisp and detailed. Some mild softness crept into a few wider shots, but these instances were rare. Most of the film looked well-defined and accurate. I detected no examples of moiré effects or jagged edges, which was one change from my viewing of the original DVD. However, I must note that I now have a new TV, and since my WEGA allows me to watch 16X9-enhanced movies without any downconversion, I’ve stopped seeing quite so many problems of that sort.
Print flaws remained very minor, though I saw some I didn’t notice during my screening of the old DVD. I detected a few speckles of grit here and there. There was nothing major, and the vast majority of the movie appeared clean and fresh, but since I didn’t witness any defects the first time around, I thought I should mention these.
Throughout the film, colors came across as warm and natural. Hues seemed accurate and solid and showed no bleeding, noise or other problems. Frankly, the movie provided some absolutely lovely and lush colors that were a delight to watch. Black levels were also nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail was terrific. All low-light scenes looked clear and appropriately-opaque without any excessive thickness. Ultimately, the movie presented a fine image that was consistently satisfying.
Restored footage almost always integrated cleanly with the original material. This isn’t always the case; for example, as I watched the director’s cut of Reindeer Games, I saw small “jumps” whenever added clips appeared. That didn’t happen during Klumps. Really, the only potential problems I witnessed during the reinstated clips related to the scene in which Granny talks about Stone Philips; one or two or those shots looked a little faded and bland. Nonetheless, this wasn’t enough to affect my rating of the picture; all in all, I thought the movie looked quite solid.
One additional difference between the old Klumps DVD and this new one applies to its soundtracks. On the original, we found only a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The “uncensored” DVD includes both that track and a DTS 5.1 mix. If any differences exist between the two audio versions, I certainly couldn’t detect them; I thought both sounded virtually identical. The DTS track may have provided slightly deeper bass, but these differences seemed to be exceedingly minor, as both mixes sounded very good.
As is typical of comedies, the soundfield stayed pretty firmly in the forward spectrum, but it spread nicely within those limitations. Music dominated the track and the songs provided positive stereo separation. Otherwise the mix generally stuck with appropriate but unspectacular ambiance. The rears contributed audio that usually came from that model, though a few scenes appeared livelier. For example, one segment in which a thunderstorm occurred brought the surrounds to life, and another that depicted an explosion also was nicely encompassing. We also heard the voices of the “internal Buddy” come from all around, which was an effective touch.
Audio quality appeared consistently solid. Dialogue seemed natural and crisp with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was clear and smooth and presented the songs in an appropriate manner. Effects appeared clean and realistic and offered some strong dynamics. Bass response was often very good; for example, the roars of the giant hamster seemed deep and rich. All together, the audio for Klumps appeared fine and it seemed appropriate for a movie of this sort.
One correction I found on the new DVD: the subtitles now call Papa Klump “Cletus”. During the old disc, they consistently referred to him as “Clesius”, but that error has been rectified.
The Klumps DVD includes a bunch of extras, many of which return from the original disc. To differentiate, new supplements will be indicated with an asterisk. Once I’ve gone through all of them, I’ll recap the pieces of the old DVD that don’t show up here.
We start with a running audio commentary from director Peter Segal. As a whole, this is a fairly interesting piece. A lot of the information can also be heard elsewhere, but Segal nicely illustrates a variety of different subjects. Most compelling to me were his remarks about all of the changes through which the script went; I enjoyed these looks at the ways the story was altered. Ultimately, it’s an above-average but not spectacular commentary. (Note that since this was the same commentary we found on the old DVD, we hear nothing about the added footage.)
Next we find a three minute and 50 second *Featurette. As you can tell from the brief length of the piece, you won’t find a lot of depth to this program, but for such a short offering, it was entertaining. The show takes a minor look at the process used to let Murphy interact with himself on film. It doesn’t give us a lot of information, but it was watchable.
The Conversation with Director Peter Segal and Producer Brian Grazer is really a mini audio commentary. The two men interact as they watch 25 minutes and 35 seconds worth of scenes from the film. It’s an odd piece; I wonder if they tried to record a full commentary but the results were dull so we got an edited piece instead. In any case, the remarks heard here are generally interesting as they discuss some of the film’s main issues (Janet Jackson’s casting, the hardships endured by Eddie to play so many roles). There’s little new or especially compelling, but it’s an entertaining enough listen.
The Storyboard to Film Comparison takes a look at four different scenes and lasts a total of about nine and a half minutes. The presentation is traditional, with the board on the top half of the screen and the finished film on the bottom. These were moderately interesting but didn’t do a lot for me, mainly because the boards and the movie were very similar; storyboards are fun mostly when they differ from the final product.
After that we get the *Original Sherman Klump Make-up Test completed by Rick Baker for the original 1996 Nutty Professor. The one minute and 55 second clip shows Murphy as he cracks wise and bounces around in his new fat suit. It’s a fun piece to watch; not only does it show the basics of the character’s look, but Murphy provides enough amusing comments to make it much more enjoyable than the average test footage.
We also find a 40 second *Janet Jackson Wardrobe Test. This snippet shows Janet in Mama Klump’s wedding dress; these shots appear in the top of the frame while the finished scene shows up in the bottom corner. There’s not much to see here; the costume seems to have stayed the same for the final film, and the movie’s audio plays over the sequence, which means we can’t hear any of the sound from the test itself. It’s not a totally pointless addition, but it’s close.
Something old and something new can be found in the Music Video area. First up is the clip for Janet’s “Doesn’t Really Matter”. It’s not a great clip, but at least it varies from the usual lip-synch/film snippet formula as Janet romps around with some girlfriends in a futuristic setting. The piece is happily free of many shots from the movie; we see a few, but it pretty much stands on its own.
In addition to that video, we get a clip for Sisqo’s *”Thong Song”. Though this piece integrates a few shots from the film, for the most part it simply shows Sisqo as he wades through acres of hoochie mamas. Annoying song, annoying video, annoying performer; Sisqo gotta go!
Matters get worse with Jay-Z’s *“Hey Papi”. The tune’s even more grating than “Thong” and the video’s a total bust. It tosses in a few shots from the movie, but mostly it’s the usual rap clip conglomeration of lip-synching amidst fancy cars, bottles of champagne and scantily-clad women. I don’t follow the rap scene closely, but didn’t every video from 1997 look just like this? Haven’t they changed at all over that span?
Guess not, but the final video at least is a small step up from the prior two. Musiq’s *”Just Friends” attempts a modest story in which Musiq meets some babe but doesn’t pressure her to have sex; he’s happy to just be friends! Yeah, whatever. The video mixes a few film clips with a lot of lip-synching as Musiq and his lady friend get to know each other. I thought the song was amateurish, but it’s still preferable to the junk from Jay-Z and Sisqo. Still, the only video I’d rewatch is Janet’s; she’s the sole member of this group that has real talent.
Cast and Crew includes brief biographies of Murphy, Jackson, actor Larry Miller, director Segal, and producer Grazer. Within this area, we can get a trailer for the 1996 Nutty Professor. That same clip also appears in the “Recommendations” area. Production Notes give us some decent text about the making of the film. Most of this information has been heard elsewhere - the same five stories are told repeatedly throughout these supplements - but they synopsize the production neatly. An *essay within the DVD’s booklet also briefly discusses the director’s cut of the film; Peter Segal relates why this material didn’t appear in the theatrical version.
Klumps adds some DVD-ROM content. “The Family” gives us additional biographies, most entertainingly for the Klumps themselves. There’s also a “Family Album” with a few photographs.
“The Story” offers a variety of extra material. “Makin’ It Happen” includes some brief interview clips from Murphy, Jackson, Miller, director Segal and make-up artist Rick Baker. “Soundtrack” just tells us what’s on the album and also links to the Def Jam website. “Music Video” grants us another opportunity to see Janet’s clip for “Doesn’t Really Matter”, while “Filmmakers” adds some biographies not found on the main supplemental area. “Dirty Laundry” gives us some “interviews” with Sherman and Granny. “Misteaks” includes some addition outtakes.
“Nutty Stuff” includes some computer-related materials. Four different “Wallpaper” photos appear, and there’s also a “Screen Saver” you can install. The “Nutty Browser” will Klumpify your Internet access, while “Download Granny” will give you a virtual grandma to skate across your screen. Lastly, the “Games” lets you make your own movie poster and you can challenge a hamster to get through a maze. Was I able to beat him? No comment.
“Nutty Features” simply offers access to all of the supplements also found on the main DVD. Finally, the DVD-ROM area provides links to: Universal DVD Newsletter; Universal DVD; Universal Home Video; Universal Pictures; and Universal Studios.
So far we’ve found only a few new features on the “uncensored” DVD: a very short featurette, a fun make-up test and a useless wardrobe test, and three music videos. Do these additional extras balance out what we lose? Nope.
The biggest omission from the original DVD was the “Spotlight On Location” featurette. That 24-minute program was a decent look at the making of the movie. I believe that the old disc’s “Outtakes” have been integrated into the new cut, but I can’t definitively state if all two minutes and 20 seconds of them appear; I think that some of them fail to show up, but I’m not positive. In any case, the special “Outtakes” section is not on the new disc.
An 80 second “Deleted Scene” in which Sherman and Denise consider buying a home is not on the “uncensored” disc. The old package’s other “Deleted Scene” also fails to appear. That was a longer version of the Klumps’ visit to the all-you-can-eat restaurant. I think some of the extra footage made it into the “uncensored” cut, but since the clip on the old disc ran for four minutes longer than the theatrical rendition of the scene, it’s clear that most of the segment stayed home.
Lastly, the new DVD loses two short make-up featurettes. On the old disc, we saw 80 seconds of Murphy’s transition to Papa and a 125 second piece in which he turned into Ernie. Neither was fantastic, but they provided a fun look at the art.
Why did Universal omit all of these extras from the new disc? I have no idea. It’d be one thing if the disc included all-new supplements, as that would be additional enticement for repurchasers. The mix of old and new seems odd. A disc in which all of the old features are replicated would make sense, and one with only fresh materials would also seem reasonable, but this strange conglomeration confuses me.
I suppose space issues may have been a concern; after all, the addition of the DTS soundtrack definitely took up some precious bits. However, the DVD loses the French Dolby Digital 5.1 mix found on the old disc; while DTS apparently uses more space than DD, the differences aren’t that major, so the omission of the French track should have balanced out the added DTS version.
As such, I really can’t figure out a compelling reason why the “uncensored” DVD drops some of the old supplements. Most of the material makes the cut, but some decent stuff is nowhere to be found, and the added features don’t compensate. Really, the only genuinely interesting new piece is the make-up test. The featurette was decent but nothing special, and the other clips were pretty much a waste of time.
Many have ascribed cynical motives to Universal’s release of the “uncensored” DVD of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, and now that I’ve checked out the package, I have trouble arguing with those positions. Why didn’t the original DVD release include the “uncensored” version? Dual releases of different cuts aren’t exactly unprecedented; Road Trip came out at the same time as the first edition of Klumps, and Universal themselves provided theatrical and “unrated” versions of American Pie.
Perhaps no one thought about this cut when the original DVD was prepped; I suppose that the director may have decided he really wanted to revisit the film, and - ala New Line’s second release of Boogie Nights - this disc may exist as a way to make a successful filmmaker happy. That seems unlikely due to the rapid turnaround between discs - five months isn’t a lot of time to reconsider the situation - but it’s a possibility.
Perhaps we’ll never know the studio’s motivations behind this second, slightly-different DVD of Klumps. All I do know is that I can’t recommend it to anyone other than those who eat, sleep and breathe the film. If you already own the original DVD, you have a fine copy that shouldn’t need to be replaced. The differences between the two packages are minor, and while it’s nice to have DTS sound, I couldn’t discern any significant improvements between that track and the Dolby Digital mix found on the original disc. The extra footage integrated into the film also was not worth a new purchase, and none of the package’s extras merited much attention.
For those who own no DVD of Klumps but would like to purchase one, I’d also recommend the original disc. It offers superior extras; they aren’t terrifically better than those found on the new package, but they’re good enough to give the old DVD the nod.
When I first reviewed Klumps last December, I thought it was a surprisingly warm and funny film, and I recommended the DVD. Both picture and sound quality were quite strong, and the extras added a fair amount of fun. My feelings haven’t changed, as I still enjoyed Klumps during my second viewing. However, the new “uncensored” version of the movie doesn’t make much of a difference. Unless you just can’t live without all the Klumps you can get, go with the original disc and leave the new one alone.