RV appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A release from Blu-ray’s earliest days, and it could show its age.
That said, I’ve certainly seen worse circa 2006 BDs. This one showed some issues, but it remained wholly watchable.
Sharpness was a bit erratic. Most shots displayed good definition, but more than a few exceptions occurred, as some wide shots appeared somewhat soft and unfocused.
I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but a little edge enhancement was visible. I saw no signs of source flaws, but digital artifacts gave the image an awkward look..
Colors veered blue a lot of the time, though they shifted to amber for daytime shots when the family got out west. The aforementioned digital artifacts impacted these hues, so they were adequate but less vivid than I’d expect.
Blacks seemed fairly deep and dense, but shadows tended to appear slightly thick. Low-light shots were acceptably visible but not as smooth as I’d expect. Ultimately, this led to a passable but up and down transfer.
The PCM 5.1 soundtrack of RV seemed more consistently pleasing, though. While the soundfield maintained an emphasis on the forward channels, it broadened the spectrum nicely and opened up the proceedings well.
In the front, music displayed fine stereo imaging, while effects blended cleanly and showed good spatial delineation. Elements appeared appropriately placed and moved convincingly across the domain.
Surround activity didn’t seem heavy, but I felt impressed with the rear support given the genre in which the film fell; most comedies barely use those speakers. Despite its forward emphasis, RV often made solid use of the surrounds, especially as the movie progressed.
Lots of shots from the road broadened matters in an effective way; various elements zoomed around the spectrum and created a solid setting.
Audio quality appeared strong as well. Dialogue sounded natural and distinct, and I discerned no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed bright and bold and showed nice clarity and dynamic range.
Effects came across as accurate and lively, and they packed a surprising wallop. The film featured a lot of deep bass, and those tones sounded deep and tight.
Ultimately, the soundfield of RV seemed just a little too passive to earn more than a “B+”, but it still provided a strong auditory experience.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless PCM audio offered a bit more kick compared to the DVD’s lossy track.
As for visuals, they boasted mildly superior clarity and accuracy. This wasn’t a major upgrade over the DVD – and it could use a modern update – but the image stayed perfectly decent.
As we move to the package’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld. He presents a running, screen-specific discussion.
Actually, Sonnenfeld offers a “telestrator commentary”, which means that he occasionally doodles on the screen to illustrate his points. This added a cute but inconsequential part of the track. It didn’t harm anything, but it didn’t help either, so feel free to ignore the telestrator parts and just listen to the piece.
During his chat, Sonnenfeld discusses sets and locations, the film’s RVs, inspirations and autobiographical elements, visual design and camerawork, actors and performances, music and visual effects. Like prior Sonnenfeld commentaries, the director infuses the piece with a fair amount of humor, though some of his bits fall flat. His allusions to the Columbia logo’s resemblance to Annette Bening for the umpteenth time – I think he did this with his Men in Black pieces – and his constant references to his own cameos in the flick get tedious.
Add to that a bit of dead air and this commentary doesn’t quite excel. Nonetheless, it covers the basics pretty well and gives us more than a few nice insights. Though flawed, Sonnenfeld’s commentary merits a listen.
A series of five featurettes follows, and Barry Sonnenfeld: The Kosher Cowboy lasts nine minutes, 14 seconds. We hear from Sonnenfeld, wife Susan “Sweetie” Ringo, producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher, and actors Cheryl Hines, Robin Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, Chloe Sonnenfeld and Jeff Daniels.
“Cowboy” presents reflections on Sonnenfeld. He discusses his affection for cowboy gear, his cameo in the flick, his neuroses, his visual style and his tone on the set. The material can be fluffy, but more than a few fun moments appear, mainly due to the footage from the shoot. This is a pleasant little program.
For a look at the movie’s teen idol, we go to the four-minute, 55-second JoJo: The Pop Princess. It includes remarks from Levesque, Wick, Fisher, Williams, and actors Hunter Parrish and Josh Hutcherson.
We learn about Levesque’s casting and her performance. The inevitable puffery occurs as folks tell us how great JoJo is, but the actress presents some decent notes about her experiences.
We learn about recreational vehicles in RV Nation: The Culture of Road Warriors. It goes for 11 minutes, 34 seconds and features Sonnenfeld, Williams, Hines, Daniels, Chenoweth, Wick, Fisher, Hutcherson and picture car coordinator Rick Rasmussen.
The filmmakers talk about their youthful car travel experiences and family vacations as well as thoughts about RVs. This is reasonably interesting, though I’d prefer more details about RVs, maybe a history of them and specifics about various models. It’d also be good to learn more about the RVs used in the flick.
Another actor spotlight comes with the five-minute, 15-second Robin Williams: A Family Affair. The featurette presents notes from Williams, Sonnenfeld, Wick, Hines, Fisher, Daniels, Chenoweth, Parrish, Levesque and Hutcherson.
We learn about Williams’ casting and his performance. Not a lot of information appears, but we see lots of amusing ad-libs from Williams. That makes it worth a look.
For the final featurette, we get The Scoop on Poop. It goes for three minutes, 49 seconds and offers comments from Sonnenfeld, Williams, Wick and assistant special effects Rae Reedyk. “Scoop” looks at the film’s sewage removal scene.
We see what elements went into that disgusting sequence. It’s a surprisingly interesting little glimpse behind the scenes.
Note that the Blu-ray loses a few features from the DVD. It drops outtakes, storyboard-to-film comparisons, alternate scenes, an Easter egg and previews.
I feel surprised that the Blu-ray loses any components since the format enjoys more space than a DVD would. Given what an early release this was, I guess Sony feared issues if they packed too many bonus materials.
A hit or miss comedy, RV has its moments of humor. Unfortunately, it also comes with many unfunny sequences and it never quite catches fire. The Blu-ray offers decent picture and extras plus pretty solid audio. This one might merit a rental for Robin Williams fans, but don’t expect a lot from it.
To rate this film visit the original review of RV