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In this hilarious and outrageous, marital arts comedy, Rob Schneider stars as Stan Minton a two bit con man that is found guilty of cheating mostly elderly women out of their retirement saving on fraudulent vacation properties. With the help of his crooked lawyer, Lew Popper (M. Emmet Walsh), Stan is able to postpone his jail sentence for six months in order to tidy up his affairs. Stan quickly goes into a depression that not even his gorgeous and bubbly wife, Mindy (Jennifer Morrison), can pull him out of. However, when Stan receives news from an ex-prison inmate that his frail and weak body will be targeted and "loved" by all of the large men in jail, Stan realized his "tender parts" are on the line and as a last ditch effort he enlists the help of a mysterious martial arts guru know only as The Master (David Carradine).
Over the course of the remaining months, The Master transforms Stan into a lean and mean fighting machine much to the dismay of Mindy who cannot see past The Master's other "abilities" such as eating Scorpions at the dinner table and smoking a hundred cigarettes a day.
Stan is finally shipped off to jail and he soon realizes that prison is not at all like he imagined it's worse! Thankfully Stan has been trained well and he soon brings the warring gangs together and establishes peace inside the prison walls. This is much to the disgust of the prisons Warden Gasque (Scott Wilson) who has been hatching an evil plan to shut the prison down and sell off the land to a Vietnamese development company that he just so happens to be a silent partner in. Gasque offers Stan a deal that will get him out of prison far ahead of schedule if he'll help him with his diabolical plan. With the clock ticking, Stan must decide between his own freedom and protecting the lives of the inmates that he has grown to respect.
For more about Big Stan and the Big Stan Blu-ray release, see Big Stan Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 30, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Rob Schneider, David Carradine, Salvator Xuereb, Buddy Lewis, Scott Wilson, Randy Couture
Director: Rob Schneider
» See full cast & crew
Big Stan Blu-ray Review
And the hits just keep on hitting...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 30, 2009
Schneidees assemble! Deny it all you want, but I know you're out there; the faithful few who trot out to the video store with grins and giggles to pick up the latest Rob Schneider masterwork. You lay awake at night praying that the Deuce Bigalow series will become a trilogy, you scour IMDB looking for any news that might confirm a followup to The Animal is on its way, and you sit patiently through every Adam Sandler comedy just to witness that singular defining moment when Schneider appears and scores a well-earned laugh. But most of all, you work hard to tolerate people like me; hardened cynics who shake their heads at the SNL alum's every expression and scoff at his desperate attempts to reinvigorate a once promising career.
In his latest cinematic hemorrhage, Schneider plays Stan Minton, a scheming conman sentenced to a three-year prison term after being convicted of fraud. Fearing all manner of rape and abuse, the insecure weakling hires a martial-arts guru called The Master (David Carradine) to whip him into shape before he begins his sentence. As luck would have it, Stan realizes he stumbled upon the right man for the job when his transformation quickly allows him to establish himself among his fellow inmates as someone to be feared and respected. However, the prison's equally-conniving warden (Scott Wilson) decides to take advantage of the situation. With a legion of faithful followers, his intellect, and his newfound martial-arts prowess, Stan is faced with several tough choices that pits him against the corrupt penal system.
After reading my introduction, you might think I sat through Big Stan without cracking a single smile, but I actually chuckled quite a few times. Sure, the script is entangled with cliches, familiar gags, and flimsy characters, but the story and its setup are strong enough to make some of the film's more inspired scenes sizzle. Considering the countless production mishaps and budgetary restraints this straight-to-video mess had to endure over the last four years, I'm surprised I enjoyed as much of Schneider's directorial debut as I did. Even so, the strains such troubles had on the man as a producer, director, and star are obvious -- he looks frazzled and lost at times; his eyes wide and lively one moment, dead and weary the next. The supporting cast seems at a loss as well, spitting out their lines with trepidation and failing to nail the sort of effortless timing the best comedies are blessed with. Their on-screen chemistry is limp and their interactions often consist of cue-card-esque deliveries. It doesn't help that they don't have much to work with. Josh Lieb's screenplay doesn't offer the bite or wit of his work on The Daily Show; his one-liners fall flat, his situational comedy is too contrived, and his pacing is all over the place.
It may come as a shock, but Big Stan is at its best when Schneider takes on opponent after opponent in a series of lengthy, well-choreographed fight scenes that find the conman utilizing everything from cell-made nunchaku to a prison library book. The fights themselves are fast and fierce, and the actor's face really comes alive every time he enthusiastically plants his foot in a monstrous inmate's midsection. Unfortunately, the technical artistry of the battles are regularly undermined by out-of-place slapstick nonsense, eye-rolling dialogue, and comically inept fighters. If I had to see fingers break on one more prosthetic hand, I think I would have taken my anger out on the remote. Once again, Schneider tries to force laughs when a more subtle approach would have been far more effective and efficient.
Blame it on Schneider's inexperience as a filmmaker, the weight of wearing so many hats, or any number of personal issues like heat exhaustion (as revealed in the film's documentary), but Big Stan is burdened by far too many tangential subplots, missed opportunities, and weak developments to emerge as anything but a shrug-inducing mess. Was it amusing? Sure, I even laughed out loud on a handful of occasions. Is it the worst film the actor has ever appeared in? Not by a long shot. Is it worth watching? Probably not. I certainly could have found a better way to spend an hour-and-a-half, casual fans won't remember most of it within a week, and even Schneider's most diehard loyalists are likely to stop at a rental. Schneidees may enjoy Big Stan for what it is, but everyone else should spend their time and money elsewhere.
Big Stan Blu-ray, Video Quality
Big Stan arrives on Blu-ray with a mediocre 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that comes up short in almost every regard. Colors are notably vibrant, but skintones are often flushed or bronzed, blacks are sometimes unresolved, and primaries waver from shot to shot. While outdoor exteriors look better than anything else on display, low-lit interiors and nighttime scenes are haunted by dull contrast, weak dimensionality, and bursts of distracting, intrusive noise. Moreover, spiking grain, poor delineation, and other digital clutter frequently disrupt texture clarity and fine detail -- all of which contributes to an at-times soft presentation. Object edge definition is also inconsistent, appearing crisp in some sequences and unrefined in others. Worse still, the film doesn't look that much better than it does on DVD. While the picture benefits from the inherent improvements you'd expect from a Blu-ray disc, it's a minimal upgrade that will leave most viewers disappointed and underwhelmed. I'm sure some will blame the transfer's shortcomings on the film's low budget, but it doesn't change the fact that Big Stan just doesn't cut it.
Big Stan Blu-ray, Audio Quality
HBO has granted Big Stan a solid DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, but the film's front-heavy soundfield and shallow sound design leave too much to the imagination. While dialogue is generally crisp and clear, a few too many lines are muddled, poorly prioritized, or indistinct. Likewise, LFE support is occasionally resonant and full, but often absent from the mix or too subdued to make a proper impact. Even the rear speakers only pipe up in the most chaotic scenes as they're mainly tasked with the bare minimum. Interior acoustics and environmental ambience are merely decent, dynamics are limited, and the film's soundtrack sounds better than anything else (which isn't saying much). Still, pans are satisfyingly transparent, front soundstage directionality is fairly precise, and I wasn't distracted by any other glaring technical deficiencies. As it stands, Big Stan's DTS-HD track does a suitable job of capturing the nostalgic kung-fu clangs and bangs Schneider tosses in the film, but doesn't do anything that will win an audiophile's affections or earn their respect.
Big Stan Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Big Stan offers the same limited collection of special features as its DVD counterpart. While I appreciate the fact that all of the video content is presented in high definition, the supplemental package is a relative bore saved only by the inclusion of an engrossing half-hour documentary.
Big Stan Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Big Stan is best reserved for the most ardent Rob Schneider fans as it produces little more than a trite and predictable entry in the actor's comedic canon. The Blu-ray edition isn't much better, arriving with a problematic video transfer, a rather harmless DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a slim set of lackluster supplements. Give it a rent (if for no other reason than to watch its excellent behind-the-scenes documentary), but hold off any decisions to purchase this one until you've sat through everything it has to offer.
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Big Stan Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Warner Details Big Stan Blu-ray Release - December 19, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced the special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Big Stan', which is due to hit store shelves on March 24th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Final technical specs remain unknown, but you can expect that the BD-25 will ...
• Warner Announces Big Stan for Blu-ray (UPDATED) - December 5, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the 2007 comedy 'Big Stan' to Blu-ray on March 24th, day-and-date with the DVD release. This straight-to-video release was directed and stars Rob Schneider as a weak prison inmate who gets transformed into a ...
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