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Chester is a salesman looking for a little respect... and a big job promotion. To impress his boss, Chester becomes the coach of the company-sponsored girls' soccer team, the Ladybugs. But when Chester and his assistant coach see their woefully unskilled players, they realize the Ladybugs are going to get squashed! Chester decides the team needs a girl who plays like a boy, so he secretly enlists his fiancée's son, Matthew, to become Martha, the Ladybugs' newest member.
For more about Ladybugs and the Ladybugs Blu-ray release, see Ladybugs Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on July 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rodney Dangerfield, Jonathan Brandis, Vinessa Shaw
Director: Sidney J. Furie
» See full cast & crew
Ladybugs Blu-ray Review
It's pretty difficult to gain respect when coaching a grade school soccer team...
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, July 21, 2010
Considering the polarizing effect of Rodney Dangerfield as a stand-up comedian, it's not terribly surprising to discover his film career followed the same path. After reasonable box office success with films such as Caddyshack, Easy Money, and Back to School, Dangerfield returned to the silver screen for his last starring performance in the film Ladybugs. Grossing a mere 14 million at the American box office, the film was largely considered a financial flop, and resulted in a remaining acting career that exclusively consisted of supporting roles. From a personal standpoint, I can't say I've ever been much of a Rodney Dangerfield fan, so I'd encourage you to qualify my assessment of Ladybugs with that in mind (after all, nobody enjoys receiving hate mail). After all, we can all admit most hilarious films are built around a starring comedian and require a certain appreciation for his or her particular brand of comedy from the outset. I can name plenty of personal acquaintances that find Adam Sandler's early films either appealing or appalling, and the same can be said of Jim Carrey. If you don't like the comedy style, chances are good you'll hate the films.
Unable to scrape together enough cash to marry his girlfriend, Chester (Rodney Dangerfield) approaches his boss about a long overdue promotion. Bumbling uncomfortably through the meeting, he soon grows desperate and winds up in the middle of an irreversible lie over his history with the sport of soccer. This results in his placement as coach of the Ladybug soccer team, the all-female team that's sponsored by his greedy, competitive boss. Promised a lucrative promotion if he can lead the team to victory in the upcoming season, Chester sets to work on learning the game of soccer. Unfortunately, the make-shift team is far from the trophy-winning squad Chester expected, leaving him floundering without a plan and in danger of losing his job. Desperate for help, he turns to his girlfriend's son Mathew (Jonathan Brandis) who has plenty of free time on his hands, but isn't a huge fan of Chester's involvement with his mother. Despite Mathew's reservations about getting involved with the team or Chester, he soon agrees to help Chester by donning a blonde wig to become the newest member of the Ladybugs. This presents a myriad of problems as Mathew attempts to switch back and forth between Martha and his own identity without letting his mother find out. Can Mathew and Chester turn this crew of misfits into a championship caliber team, or will Chester lose everything in the midst of his dangerous coaching gamble.
As mentioned above, Ladybugs is a film that requires a core appreciation for Dangerfield's work as a comedian. Many of his lines are built directly around his self-deprecating comedy style, and you quickly gain the sense that he's ad-libbing at least half of his dialog. To his fan-base, this will be seen as one of the film's greatest strengths, but to all others the lengthy clockwork delivery of his set-ups and punch-lines can quickly grow stale. A good example of this can be found early on in the film, during the scene where he's bantering with the elderly secretary of his boss. The dialog within that encounter is laced with innuendo that grows more and more extreme as Chester continues, until we hit a point where everything that follows just feels uncomfortable. It doesn't help that Dangerfield's patented delivery style often has him bouncing uncontrollably up and down, as if he's a musician desperately attempting to keep the beat.
Moving beyond the hit or miss comedy of Dangerfield, Ladybugs is fairly generic among the sports comedy genre. The set-ups that generate the most chuckles often revolve around Mathew attempting to pull off the transition between himself and Martha, which often leave Chester mistaken for a pedophile. These scenarios combined with the sexual innuendo found throughout the film make us question what age group the producers were targeting with this venture, since most of the humor seems inappropriate for a young audience. When you place the shoe on the other foot, we're forced to ask how many adults might be attracted to a film about young girls playing soccer, especially given the juvenile antics that contribute to the bulk of the film. It's almost as if Slap Shot and The Mighty Ducks were put in a blender, removing the charm of the children's production and the edgy hilarity of the adult affair.
Ladybugs Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 28Mpbs), Ladybugs kicks its way onto Blu-ray with a transfer that never looks exceptional, but still appears decent for a low-budget comedy (that's rapidly approaching its 20th anniversary). Fine object detail demonstrates limitations in the display of textures in the foreground from time to time (especially age lines or other facial features), but the depth of the image is surprisingly strong thanks to the upgrade to 1080p. Initially, I had some worries concerning the use of DNR to wipe film grain from the surface of the transfer, but eventually arrived at the conclusion that the diminished textures are due to the soft-focus film style, and not over-manipulation on the part of the video engineers. Turning to the color palette of the film, I was a bit distracted by the dominance of reds in the spectrum, which take their toll on facial tones and often lend the appearance of a slight sunburn. Despite this tendency, the rest of the image sports wonderful color accuracy with orange uniforms that stand out against a lush green backdrop, and splashes of color seen on the billboards circling the soccer field. Black levels aren't the greatest, but considering the majority of the film was shot during the daytime, it doesn't present much of a concern. Finally, I never noticed any digital anomalies during the course of the film, but you'll likely detect occasional moments of print damage (specks, dust blobs, etc.) that present a minor distraction.
Ladybugs Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If I hadn't read the back of the packaging and confirmed it for myself (on my PS3 display), I'd laugh at the suggestion that this is 5.1 surround mix. As most of you know, low budget comedies of this sort don't rely on immersive audio effects to deliver the goods, so it should come as no surprise to find an excessively front-heavy mix on Ladybugs. Dialog, wacky effects, and the goofy musical score all register with equal weight across the front three speakers, without one particular element overwhelming another. Clarity is more than adequate to meet the needs of the subject matter, but I wouldn't go so far as to suggest it rivals the clarity of many other lossless presentations on the market. Adding to the ho-hum nature of the track, several of the audio elements register on the bright side, leaving the LFE portion of the audio experience to wither outside in the cold, while subsequently generating a dated feel to the sound design. This diminished quality also extends into instances of high volume static, which never manifest during the musical numbers, but dominate Dangerfield's yelling sessions. It's entirely possible this was present in the source material and not something Lionsgate could do anything about (without remastering the track), but it adds to the shrill nature of the sound spectrum within the film.
The negative aspects of the audio track likely paint a fairly poor picture of the overall audio experience, but you should keep in mind this is a comparison with the best Blu-ray has to offer. A film of this nature and vintage simply can't keep up with the proficiency of a newly produced action offering, making it a tough uphill battle for Ladybugs. Most fans of the film recognize this from the outset, but I felt I should at least clarify the basis for my harsh assessment.
Ladybugs Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only supplement included on the disc is a trailer collection for other films in the Lionsgate library.
Ladybugs Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ladybugs is the type of comedy that's built a cult following among fans of nostalgic memories over true substance. It requires a core appreciation for Dangerfield's stand-up work, an ability to find entertainment value in juvenile and adult humor, as well as a thick skin for bad acting. I'd wager most viewers with an interest in Ladybugs are either card-carrying members of the Rodney Dangerfield fan-club, or simply recall the grin produced at a young age when they first realized their parents had been duped into thinking this was suitable for children. Either way, I'm not here to dissuade long-time fans from purchasing this reasonably priced Blu-ray upgrade, since the technical merits offer adequate justification for you to take the leap.
Ladybugs Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Jimmy Hollywood, Ladybugs Blu-ray in July - April 13, 2010
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced two comedy titles (originally from the Paramount library) for release on Blu-ray on July 6: Jimmy Hollywood, starring Joe Pesci and Christian Slater; and Ladybugs, starring Rodney Dangerfield. Both will be presented with ...
Ladybugs Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Ladybugs Blu-ray Screenshots
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