Swimming with Sharks: This is a Special Edition You Schmuck

Swimming with Sharks: This is a Special Edition You Schmuck (1994)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Frank Whaley, Michelle Forbes, Benicio Del Toro
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes

Kevin Spacey plays Buddy Ackerman, a studio executive who breaths new life into the term "boss from hell" as he mentors his new assistant, Guy (Frank Whaley), in the darker than dark comedy, "Swimming with Sharks". Fresh out of film school, Guy is unaware as to what awaits him at his new position as he attempts to climb the Hollywood corporate ladder. From romancing a producer, Dawn Lockard (Michelle Forbes), who is trying to get her script produced at Buddy's studio, to dealing with the abuses laid upon him, on a daily basis from Buddy, all the while dreaming of a writing career that seems out-of-reach. Filled with quick-witted writing and a keen sense of humor, "Swimming with Sharks" is a humorously-twisted take on the inner-workings of the Hollywood system, leading to a crazed revenge plot that shows what some individuals are willing to endure, to achieve success in the film business.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment presents "Swimming with Sharks" in an anamorphic widescreen transfer that is good, but suffers from some dirt elements on the source print. Blacks are decent and provide the transfer with nice detail throughout. I found the color to be slightly under-saturated, which causes the presentation to have an almost dull look, with flesh tones appearing natural, if a little pale at times. There was little to no compression artifacts present as the film displays an overall acceptable presentation.

I was surprised to see this film available with a dts track paired with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, considering this film is mostly all dialogue. The only real sound channels active are the left, center and right, with the surrounds and lower frequency channels almost mute. Voices in particular appeared to be poorly mixed, which is not acceptable for a film that is mostly focused on characters delivering generous amounts of dialogue. There were some scenes where the voice level suddenly dropped, leading me to reach for the remote to correct the situation. Overall, this soundtrack is presentable, but I truly expected a little more, especially with the inclusion of a dts track.

Extras included in this special edition consist of no less than three commentary tracks. The first one features actor Kevin Spacey, then there is a separate commentary with director George Huang, and the third track features both the director and actor Frank Whaley. Also included are featurettes titled; "Back to the Tank: Swimming 10 Years Later", "Shark Tales: Life as a Hollywood Assistant" and "Let's do Lunch: A Conversation with Colleagues," as well as some deleted scenes.

Sound and minor picture flaws aside, "Swimming with Sharks: This is a Special Edition You Schmuck" will provide fans with the option of replacing the previous non-anamorphic DVD with this new edition, which includes some nice extras to accompany the feature presentation.