Bowfinger (1999)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Robert Downey Jr.
Extras: Commentary track, Featurette, Deleted scenes, Outtakes, Theatrical Trailer

Although I have to admit I did not go to watch "Bowfinger" in theaters, the trailers I saw on TV and running in front of other movies, piqued my interest for the film by all means. It seem to have been just too long that a really funny movie with Eddie Murphy came along, and at the same time it seems to have been ages that Steve Martin had a real smashing good comedy up his sleeve. Well, it may not be exactly true like this, but it definitely felt that way. Then seeing Martin’s familiar, agitated mannerisms combined with Eddie Murphy’s geeky and dimwitted appearance in the movie’s trailer, it certainly felt like a wake-up call. Here are two fabulous comedians teaming up and the result appears to be exhilarating. Now Universal is sending the DVD of "Bowfinger" our way and I finally had the chance to check this film out. I am happy to report that it is every bit as funny as it seemed!

Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is running his own production company in Hollywood but the term is in exaggeration in terms. It appears Bowfinger has never made any real movie. But it is all about to change when reads a script put together by his accountant. "Great script!" he proclaims, "A masterpiece." Immediately he goes about to find a studio that would buy into the production and with a little help from some friends he manages to cheat his way into a fancy schickeria restaurant in Hollywood to strike up a phony conversation with a studio executive (Robert Downey Jr.). The result is ridiculous to say the least, but it sparks a new idea in Bowfinger’s overactive mind. He will use Hollywood’s biggest star, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) in his little low-budget movie and hit the jackpot. It is very unfortunate that the star refuses, but who needs rights clearance or consent when you can hide a camera in the trunk of a car or the bushes on the other side of the star’s estate? Soon, a full-blown scheme is under way in which Kit Ramsey is the main attraction without knowing it. Too bad that the superstar has a case of paranoia and all these weird people in costumes coming up to him with gibberish about aliens and saving the world doesn’t improve his situation. He vanishes into solitude, but to finish his masterpiece Bowfinger needs some more shots of the star. He needs a double, especially for the more saucy scenes of his film.

"Bowfinger" is an inventive romp about Hollywood and the clichés we have all heard of. Seeing them stringed up one after another as in this film is a riot that really makes you wonder how much of it is actually true and how much of it is just a figment of writer Steve Martin’s vivid imagination. As outrageous as many scenes appear, I have no doubt that much of it has its roots in reality to some extent. The phony cars, the self-important cell-phone executives, the casting couch, and many other elements are not really that far fetched. Pacing it frantically as it is in this movie, and serving up one Tinseltown cliché after another is what makes "Bowfinger" so impressive.

It requires a special over-the-top cast to bring a movie like this to all its glory, and under the masterful direction of Frank Oz, Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy are better than they have been in years. With immaculate timing and stunning delivery of their lines and mannerisms, these two elevate "Bowfinger" over any comedy I have seen in recent times. No teenage romances, no physical comedy, no slapstick and no gross-out low blows. Nothing but a clever script with witty dialogues, a fantastic scenario and a cast that knows how to make it happen, is all that "Bowfinger" required. One can only hope that Oz, Martin and Murphy will team up in more movies given the success of this one.

But also Heather Graham as the innocent and yet not-so-innocent Daisy and Christine Baranski as the over-the-hill diva Carol are a true delight.

Universal Home Video’s DVD of "Bowfinger" contains the movie’s <$PS,widescreen> version in an <$16x9,anamorphic> transfer that presents the movie in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is perfectly clean and contains a great level of detail without any noise or grain. Every little detail of the production design has made it to this DVD presentation, making "Bowfinger" a beautiful looking DVD. The colors are strong and warm, just the way they were originally composed by cinematographer Ueli Stein, who has created a very intriguing look for the entire film. Faithfully reproduced and with natural looking fleshtones, the transfer also boasts strong hues, deep blacks and good highlights.

A few months ago, Universal Home Video started adding an <$DTS,DTS> audio track to many of their day & date releases, and "Bowfinger" is no exception. Featuring a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> soundtrack as well as a DTS track and a French <$DS,Dolby Surround> track, this disc will certainly make every audio aficionado happy. Although it is not exactly a movie that puts its emphasis on the audio part of the presentation, the DTS soundtrack is a nice addition, although differences between this and the Dolby Digital soundtrack are negligible, if not inaudible. The audio on the disc is powerful and well balanced with a wide frequency response that covers the entire spectrum form low basses to the high end, producing a very natural sounding sound field. Spatial integration and usage of the surrounds channels is also very well done, although surround effects are used tastefully and not for effects’ purposes.

"Bowfinger" contains a series of supplements, including an <$commentary,audio commentary> by director Frank Oz. As usual, Frank Oz comes across as very entertaining and his commentary is not only insightful but also lighthearted and funny. Oz points out how the final version varies from the original planned implementation and why certain changes have been applied. He also does a great job recalling the film’s production and on-set anecdotes, never running out of things to say, but at the same time never swamping the viewer with redundant information. It is a great <$commentary,commentary track> that can help immensely to understand what makes films tick, and you should not miss to check this track out.

Also on the disc is featurette, accomapnied by a number of deleted scenes and some bloopers as well as the movie’s theatrical trailer. It is rounded up by production notes and cast & crew biographies.

Without a doubt, Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy come across every bit as funny as I had hoped they would in this movie. "Bowfinger" is an inspired comedy that mocks Hollywood and much of its vain artificiality superbly. Universal has created a great DVD for this film, so make sure to give it a try next time you look for a down-and-out funny comedy that is based more on the traditional art form rather than the ultra-hip romantic comedies we have seen so many of in recent times.