Paramount Home Video
Cast: Bam Margera, Phil Margera
Reality television has taken over. Cameras seem to be everywhere nowadays to capture every aspect of daily living from a variety of people. MTV seems to really love airing these moments of raw comedy. What most people recognize as the beginning of a new generation of practical jokes and crazy stunts, "Jackass" paved the way for a new breed of comedy. These no holds barred clips were edited together to show the world how a group of twentysomethings could mold immaturity into fame and fortune. "CKY" merged into "Jackass", and now "Jackass" has spun off into "Viva La Bam". With professional skateboarder Bam Margera leading the way, some of the "Jackass" crew has banded together for a new style of pranks and misbehaving. The primary target is Bam's family as he tests how unconditional their love is with a series of hilarious destruction. Sony's PSP brings six episodes from the debut season to the UMD format with "Viva La Bam: Volume 1".
"Viva La Bam" takes place in a more controlled environment than "Jackass". Random victims on the street are replaced by Phil and April Margera in their home. Bam manages to destroy sections of the house and turn it into a skate park, force a food ban on his father, and build a moat and drawbridge around their home. Uncle Don Vito gets caught up in the mayhem occasionally as well. He is present when April gets her revenge by turning the tables on her creative son by leaving him stranded on an island with his posse. He also gets a makeover when the group is in Las Vegas. Some of the episodes even manage to be heartwarming in a warped kind of way. "Viva Las Vegas" is Bam's unique anniversary gift to his parents. The episodes run just over twenty minutes each and are easy to access from the main menu. Just make sure you have a strong stomach before watching "Don't Feed Phil". What starts out as a relatively innocent episode ends on a vile note. I never want to see a toe on television again.
Considering the variety of ways the show is shot, the 1.33:1 full frame presentation is pretty good. Night vision, hidden cameras, and regular digital video are mixed edited together to give a clear look at the chaos created by Bam and his friends. Colors and details look fine for the most part, only suffering when a lower quality recording format is used. Being that the intended full frame ratio is used, there will be black bars on both sides of the PSP screen. Even with the shortened screen, the show is still easy to watch from a comfortable distance.
There could easily have been problems with the audio for "Viva La Bam". The shots are not always set, so the preparation for a strong audio feed is rarely an option. Despite the obstacles, the sound is very clear for the most part. On the occasions where the conversations may not be up to par, subtitles will help viewers keep up with the mumbles and whispers. This is the uncensored version, so the beeps from the MTV version are replaced with profanity.
The only extras on the disc are previews for other MTV releases. The "Viva La Bam: Complete Seasons 2 & 3" is already available on DVD. "Jackass – The Box Set" is scheduled for a December 6, 2005 release date. It will contain the first three volumes of "Jackass", deleted footage, a commentary track, and various featurettes.
"Viva La Bam" is a fun show and certainly worth checking out. With six episodes at about twenty minutes each, this UMD is ideal for traveling. A quick episode can easily make a wait in line at the theater take no time at all. The menu is easy to navigate, providing instant access to each episode or for previews of other MTV releases. The audio and visual presentation is great. With only two episodes missing from the first season I wish Paramount would have utilized the dual-layered UMD to complete the season. Another option would be to add a second UMD like the upcoming "Entourage" series. The extra disc could add the missing episodes and possible port over some of the extra features from the DVD. Either way, fans of "Viva La Bam" should be pleased with the UMD. Remember kids!! Don't try this at home!!!