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Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40(TV) (2010)
Poking fun at his much-publicized brouhaha with Southwest Airlines, writer, director, actor and ardent podcaster Kevin Smith declares himself too fat for his 40th birthday in a hilarious show before his rabidly loyal fans. Filmed at the Count Basie Theatre in Smith's hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey, this two-hour comedy special spotlights not only Smith's self-deprecating sense of humor, but also his fondness (and true gift) for spinning a good yarn. Tracking the turbulent year in his life in which he was tossed from the sky, Smith makes with the funny but still manages to ask the hard questions - like "Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?". Originally airing as a two-hour special, this deluxe 2-disc edition includes the uncut three-and-a-half-hour Q&A, as well as hours of exclusive bonus features!
For more about Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 and the Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray release, see Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 13, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kevin Smith (I)
Narrator: Kevin Smith (I)
Directors: Joey Figueroa, Zak Knutson
» See full cast & crew
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray Review
'Too Fat' is too good to pass up.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 13, 2011
Not too fat to be loved.
Filmmaker extraordinaire Kevin Smith -- he of Clerks and Chasing Amy fame (never mind the out-of-his-style, bigger Hollywood-like Cop Out) -- turns his (then) ample girth to another form of entertainment in Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40, a hilariously revealing and from-the-beginning intoxicating stand up routine featuring the director revealing yet another one of his many talents. Smith's life and times and thoughts and profuse sweating are all on display in this three-plus hour spectacle of raw first person entertainment. For a guy who's made a living making movies -- his early ones in particular -- that are more cultish under-the-radar than they are multiplex door busters, he's morphed into a worldwide sensation, and not simply because of the spotlight he rightly or wrongly fell under when Southwest Airlines made a big-to-do about his big size. Fortunately, that incident yielded Too Fat For 40, and no matter the personal impact on Smith or the bottom line impact on Southwest, the end result is no doubt a net positive for fans of the filmmaker or just plain old good standup storytelling.
Kevin Smith talks up a myriad of topics in Too Fat For 40, his fourth standup routine and question-and-answer chat with fans following the wildly successful ventures An Evening with Kevin Smith, An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, and Sold Out: A Threevening with Kevin Smith. Inspired by and named for his infamous run-in with Southwest Airlines and his ultimate ejection from a flight due to his size, Too Fat For 40 covers anything and everything that crosses Smith's mind in response to questions, and yes, he does tend to meander (understatement of the decade?). Topics include his gay friend Malcolm, transition to ground transportation, becoming a "stoner" at age 38, smoking joints, his thoughts while on the toilet, working with Bruce Willis, the success of his films, the layout of his house, his passion for hockey and comics, and pretty much anything and everything else that could possibly be considered a part of the Kevin Smith universe. And it never gets old, never gets dull.
Indeed, part of what makes Too Fat For 40 such an entertaining journey into the mind of Kevin Smith is the man's ability to captivate an audience no matter the subject matter, no matter how far off track he veers. The man loves to talk, it's something he's very good at, and despite how far away from the topic at hand he ventures, the transitions are seamless and the anecdotes are undeniably funny and welcome additions to the show. His ability to maintain flow and energy seems unparalleled considering the time on stage, the steadiness of the delivery, and the quality of the content. Smith's stories, whether the result of a tangential ramble or not, prove engrossing and often uproariously funny, even if humor isn't necessarily the end goal. The real goal, as Smith alludes to several times, is his eagerness to speak, to interact with his fans, to lay his heart on the table and discuss what it is that drives him, something he started with Clerks and, because of his successes in film, that he can now do on stage. For something as untraditional as this, it sure does work, and it will certainly satisfy longtime Kevin Smith fans and bring new ones into the fold, too.
From a technical perspective, Too Fat For 40 is as straightforward as they come, unlike the wandering, twisty-turny narrative of the show's star. There's a handful of repetitive angles that show Smith from a few different perspectives, including a glistening close-up of his sweaty face that breaks up the monotony of the standard front-center, side, and overhead angles that dominate the show. Fortunately, the limited and, bluntly, bland camera work is made into a non-factor by Smith's engaging narratives. The show would work just as well were the camera stationary and distant, as if a member of the crowd. Smith dominates the show to a degree that anything outside of his monologues is icing on the cake (and extra icing never hurt anything but the old waistline!). That's the sign of a strong entertainer; this is as minimalist as it comes, with a background that features a few Kevin Smith-specific signs and whatnot, but for as visually bland as the whole thing may be, the show proves as engrossing in its last ten minutes as in its first thanks to Smith's raw ability as an entertainer.
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 arrives on Blu-ray with a consistent 1080i, 1.78:1-framed transfer. The animation that begins the film is some kind of rough, with soft, low details and jagged edges aplenty. Fortunately, the live-action material, which makes up the vast majority of the feature, offers good detailing and fair colors across the board. Overhead shots of the stage reveal in some detail the scuffs on the floor, and close-ups of Kevin Smith show both the glistening sweat on this face and intricacies of the mesh material that makes up his hockey jersey. Colors are limited by the nature of the show. The background is drab and lifeless -- save for a few brighter set decorations -- but Smith's blue and orange jersey looks all right, though the harsh stage lighting tends to blow it out, particularly the orange. Blacks border on crush; there's very little in terms of shadow detail in darker corners and back up into the crowd. Background blocking is a regular occurrence, but not to a grossly distracting level. This isn't the world's best video transfer, but it's serviceable at worst and very watchable at best.
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 features an energetic but shaky LPCM 2.0 lossless soundtrack. Frankly, this release doesn't necessarily need anything bigger or wider; it's basically three-plus hours of standup monologue, with ambient crowd noise the only real supportive element. Smith's voice comes through clearly enough, with a bit of heft and a slight sense of reverberation. Applause and the like coming from the depths of the crowd never engulfs the listener, but it's suitably spaced and does a fair job of recreating a sense of realism to the proceedings. The music accompanying the animated opening intro enjoys thunderous volume but only so-so clarity. That's pretty much all there is to this one; it's a decent enough presentation of material that's quite limited to begin with.
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Both of Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40's supplements may be found on the included DVD disc. There's Full Encore Q&A (49:27), which is basically a lengthy addition to the show; and The Secret Behind the Scenes Stash (7:24), a short feature that shows Smith touring his comic book store, followed by a behind-the-scenes look at Too Fat For 40.
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 is an enthralling three-plus hours of raw entertainment. Who knew listening to someone just talk about whatever floats his boat could be so fascinating? The show is visually bland, but Smith more than makes up for any technical shortcomings through his catchy narratives and storytelling ability. Longtime Kevin Smith fans will immediately fall in love, and there's a good chance that newcomers will be digging through his filmography and other Q&A releases posthaste. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of Kevin Smith: Too Fat For 40 features decent video and audio to go along with a few extras. Recommended on the strength of the program.
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