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Click above to purchase "The Animal: Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

The Animal
Special Edition

review by David Manning Zach B.

 

Rated PG-13

Running Time: 83 minutes

Starring Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley, Guy Torry and Edward Asner

Screenplay by Tom Brady & Rob Schneider
Story by Tom Brady

Directed by Luke Greenfield

 

Studio: Columbia/Tristar

Retail Price: $27.95

Features: Audio Commentary with Rob Schneider and Producer John Schneider, Audio Commentary with Director Luke Greenfield, Badger Delivery, Comedy Central Reel Comedy: The Animal, "Animal Instincts", What's In Marvin? Filmographies, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)

Released: October 30th, 2001

I happen to enjoy stupid comedies. Sure they're not favored by critics, but the audiences enjoy them, and that's what's important. While "The Animal" wasn't adored by critics, it was a modest success at the box office and even caused a little bit of controversy with our little fake reviewer friend David Manning. Despite it all, "The Animal" re-teams executive producer Adam Sandler with SNL cohort Rob Schneider for another comedic movie outing. While I missed "The Animal" in theaters, let's see what the film cooks up...

The premise of "The Animal" is a pretty good idea. We start out by meeting Marvin Mange (Rob Schneider), an evidence clerk at the local police department. He wants to be a cop and live up to his now deceased father who died while in the line of duty. Poor Marvin his picked on and treated badly by almost everyone at the department. Yet, Marvin's destiny changes when he picks up a 911 call and decides to show he can help out. But on the way to the scene of the crime, he gets into a car accident. A few days later, Marvin awakens and soon has some incredible abilities and makes the cut as a cop. Marvin soon finds out why he has so many great abilities: someone rescued him from the car crash and put animal parts in him. Marvin does not believe it, but he soon comes to realize it. Sometimes, however, Marvin has some urges due to this. Basically, it's up to Marvin to win the heart of Rianna and stop the public from hunting him down after he goes on some crazy escapades due to his new skills.

I thought "The Animal" started out great, a movie you can just sit back and laugh at, but it slowly loses its way. The movie is really predictable (as expected), and it can be fun. But I found it to be a bit of a mess. Tom Brady and Schneider wrote the script, which is pretty decent. It has some laughs, but as far as telling the story, it could have been better and expanded more on some plot points. It felt even, I just felt there needed to be a little more depth to it. But this is a comedy, and some good, fun comedies have no depth at all. I give them credit for making a fairly decent story here, but the movie needed some bigger laughs I thought. But what I did enjoy were the various abilities Marvin did gain and how they were used, and how they did cause problems for Marvin.

Luke Greenfield, who has directed some short stuff before, makes his feature film debut here and does a rather good job. The movie is a pretty painless experience, probably since it lasts a little over an hour and has a nice flow to it. The score from Teddy Castelucci is pretty good and again, this is a movie that you can kill time with.

The acting in the film is pretty noteworthy if I say so myself. Schneider is perfect in the role he more or less co-molded and proves once again that he is a strong comedic talent with his likable, goofy charm and comedic timing. The always reliable John C. McGinley, a fine character actor, is good as Marvin's rival, while supporting performances from Edward Asner and Guy Torry are fine. Oh, and there's "Survivor"'s own Colleen Haskel, who surprisingly does hold her own and is strong as Marvin's love interest. Haskel has good chemistry with her co-stars and is rather good for the role. Oh, and there's some fun cameos by Norm MacDonald and Adam Sandler as well.

While "The Animal" disappointed me, it does have some genuine laughs and a fine premise. If the writing was a bit stronger and the execution was a bit more on target, this would have been a new comedy favorite for me. While it does fall a bit short, it's worth checking out for some laughs.

 

Columbia/Tri-Star has presented "The Animal" in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, complete in anamorphic widescreen. This transfer is near perfection, and I'd say it's a great demo disc to show off live-action transfers. It may not seem like it, but the transfer is that good! Columbia/Tri-Star has hit the mark this time quite nicely. I didn't notice any scratches, pieces of dirt or blemishes on the print, while the only distractions I really saw were shimmering and noise which popped up now and then for short periods of time. Everything else here is fantastic. Colors and fleshtones are rich and bold; they are really saturated nicely. Black levels are rock solid and detail is pretty incredible. This transfer really stands out and is really crisp. I was really surprised how good this all looked, and you should be too.

 

The 5.1 Dolby Digital English mix is one fine mix, especially for a comedy. There's some wonderful surround use throughout the movie. Whether its people speaking or the various animal sounds, the film delivers with a rather strong track. Dialogue is clean and all the sounds are crisp, while other sounds do not interfere with other elements. There are some action scenes that bring activity to the mix, such as the finale and car crash scene. Music tends to light the channels up as well, while .1 LFE is good too. Dynamic range and fidelity is fine. Overall, this is a pretty impressive mix. Also included are French and English Dolby Surround tracks, plus subtitles in those languages and English closed captions.

 

This is a nice special edition, as we are treated to a lot of stuff. First off, we have two audio commentary tracks. The Audio Commentary with Rob Schneider and Producer John Schneider (perhaps they're related) is pretty good. They're some fun improvised moments here that I laughed out loud at, but basically they talk about stuff that's specific on screen. Thoughts, actors, music, the production... it's straight forward. I'm not a big fan of commentaries where they talk about what's going on screen, and while it seems like that, they share a lot good tidbits about the production. I absorbed a good amount here.

The Audio Commentary with Director Luke Greenfield is also pretty good. Greenfield has a nice, soft spoken attitude and seems very grateful he got to direct the movie. This is a nice track and worth the listen to since "The Animal," as mentioned, is Greenfield's first feature length film. He talks about ideas, challenges he faced during the production and as a first time director and more. He does a lot of praising. Pretty cool stuff here.

Badger Delivery is your standard "click the icon while watching the movie" to see a deleted scene that was supposed to fit there. Luckily for you, there's a separate section for them under the heading Deleted Scenes. These scenes were either cut are extended and they pretty good, as they probably could be fitted back into the movie. They're enjoyable, but it's too bad they're non-anamorphic, have two channel mixes and the quality is a bit shoddy.

Comedy Central's Reel Comedy: The Animal is their usual featurette that airs on the network to promote a movie that's a comedy. Filled with movie clips, sketches made for the special, this is a decent watch. It's pretty fun, and has interviews with Sandler, Schneider, Haskel and others.

"Animal Instincts" is a near nine minute featurette with interviews from Greenfield and Schneider, clips from the movie and behind the scenes footage. It's more serious in a sense, but still has some fun moments.

What's In Marvin? is a deleted scene that should have been included originally if you ask me explaining what Marvin has inside in him. Then choose a seal, a lion or a dog and you're treated to a poor quality film clip of Marvin in that animal role. Why didn't they use a clip right from the transfer?

Rounding the package out are some Filmographies and Theatrical Trailers for "The Animal," "Joe Dirt," "Big Daddy" and "The Cable Guy."

I felt "The Animal" could have been better, but the movie is pretty entertaining. The presentation is great and the extras are rather substantial. This is a nice special edition, so if you're into the movie, do check it out.

(3/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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