Windy City Heat

Windy City Heat (2003)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Perry Caravello, Tony Barbieri, Don Barris, Bobcat Goldthwait, Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla, Dane Cook, Carson Daly
Extras: Audio/Video Commentary, Deleted and Extended Scenes, "The Reveal," "Classic Big Three Moments"

Originally airing on Comedy Central and blurring the line between fiction and reality, "Windy City Heat" is a supposed prank on an unfortunate "actor/comedian" by the name of "Scary "Perry Caravello. Whether or not Perry is in on the joke is debatable, but regardless, the results are excruciatingly funny. You see, Perry has been struggling to break into the big time for over a decade and the determined schlub finally gets his chance with a starring role as "Stone Fury, Sports Private Eye" in a gritty action film. What Perry doesn't know is that the film is a ruse and everybody has set the poor guy up. An elaborate prank is conceived, with every imaginable on-set disaster perfectly executed. During an accelerated eight-day shooting schedule, Perry is subjected to countless hours of undermining and dignity-stripping scenarios (if the man had any dignity).

Short, pudgy and denser than a sack of rocks, Perry was genetically engineered to be a dupe. Although one might find the whole experiment to be mean-spirited, Perry is such an insufferable jackass that this softens many of the cringe-worthy blows. More delusional than a hippie after ingesting a carafe of LSD, Perry has convinced himself that he has the acting chops of a young Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro. In actuality, the man has the range of an amoeba. Part of the fun lies in the astronomical confidence he displays, which is never backed up by anything resembling talent, charisma or charm. Constricting his efforts are two of his friends (and the masterminds behind this fiasco), a pair of numbskulls named "Mole" (Tony Barbieri) and Don (who, together with Perry, have dubbed themselves the "Big Three; a Three Stooges for the new Millennium"). These two pranksters consistently deflate Perry's oversize ego, getting the poor schmuck into a myriad of uncomfortable situations.

Similar to the episodic nature of "This Is Spinal Tap," "Windy City Heat" piles on mishap after mishap with the eternally clueless Perry always in the center of the storm. Surrounding him are a surplus of colorful characters, most of them named after notable pop culture icons and historical figures (like Susan B. Anthony, Roman Polanski, Ansel Adams, Burt Ward, John Quincy Adams and Travis Bickle) and Perry never bats an eye or questions why everybody around him has such bizarre monikers. Filling out the production are amusing cameos by the likes of Carson Daly, Adam Carolla, Dane Cook and Jimmy Kimmel. As the Director of the film, Bobcat Goldthwait provides some laughs by prodding Perry to shoot scenes no rational person would agree to do, all while speaking through a megaphone that never leaves his lips. Also, keep an eye out for the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants (Tom Kenny) as a gay wardrobe dresser who unwittingly fits Perry with a pair of thong underwear and leather chaps for a production of "Oklahomo." This is just one of the numerous acts of wackiness that Perry encounters during his big screen debut. He also has to deal with an obese, copulating stunt double, has an unfortunate encounter with dairy products and has to put up with a pestering personal assistant who is always bringing him unwanted plates of food. Like an extended version of the television show "Punk'd," "Windy City Heat" mines humor from the knowledge that everything is false and everybody (except the prankee) is in on the joke. By the end of the film I still wasn't sure if I had been duped or if Perry was actually this dense, but I experienced so many big laughs that it didn't really matter.

Paramount Home Video presents "Windy City Heat" in its original Full Frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Since the movie utilized up to fifteen cameras throughout the shoot (most of them hidden), the image quality veers significantly from shot to shot. Sometimes the picture is grainy and hazy, while other times the picture looks too soft. Still, there are moments where everything is clear as can be. With that said, there are some instances of edge enhancement and the colors never really pop out with much vibrancy. No doubt this is due to the available lighting and the improvisational aspect of the shoot. Since this all adds to the charm of the movie, none of this is really a problem.

Sound is provided with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. This is just about as unremarkable as the picture quality. Not much was expected and that's what I got. There's not too much to complain about though, since there aren't too many scenes that really require an overly active sound mix. A majority of the movie is dialogue driven and vocals appear natural. There were no auditory mistakes, but the whole mix came off a bit flat, even when music was featured. For those hoping to read one of Perry's tirades when he gets his blood boiling due to one of Don or Mole's idiotic mistakes, you're out of luck since the disc comes sans subtitles.

For Special Features, we first have "Perry's Corner: An Audio/Video Commentary from Perry." Recorded two years after the completion of the film, this extra displays a small window at the bottom of the screen, showing Perry recording his commentary and, at times, we get a full screen version of this (with "Windy City Heat" playing on the small screen). Also appearing during this commentary is Perry's befuddled and abused personal assistant "Burt Ward," who once again assails Perry with plates of food. Most of the time, Perry regales us with observations about how great an actor he is (because he's "real") and to sing the praises of Spanish Fly, while also displaying his racist and homophobic tendencies. Once you get pass the hackneyed Sam Kinison impression Perry is overly fond of doing, this commentary proves to be entertaining. If you're looking for answers as to whether or not this whole experiment is real, look elsewhere. Perry never gives any consistent responses. Sometimes he'll admit to not knowing what is going on and at other times he'll admit to knowing exactly what is going on. By the end, we're still not sure whether or not Perry has grasped the concept that the whole thing was a prank.

Next we have "The Reveal: Perry Watches the Film For the First Time," a nineteen-minute featurette where Don and Mole join Perry in his apartment to catch "Windy City Heat" on his television. Infuriating Perry to no end, Don and Mole proceed to disrupt the viewing by puking in Perry's bathroom, trashing everything in sight and wrestling with each other. In-between all the chaos, there are some quiet moments where Perry is able to enjoy the film, showing his appreciation through laughter and even shedding some tears during the final minutes. Don and Mole's annoying shenanigans and Perry's outbursts make this a humorous inclusion.

Coming up next is a nineteen-minute montage of "Deleted and Extended Scenes." Included are Perry's seemingly uncontrollable and never-ending burping and flatulent skills, as well as a practical joke he and Burt play on Mole by toilet papering his trailer (with, of course, wacky results). Continuing the practical joke theme, Don cajoles Perry into dipping a sleeping Mole's hand into a cup of hot water, with disastrous and litigious results. Also, we get to see an extended version of the "protein shake" scene, where Perry inhales two monstrous helpings of a nasty blended drink (containing such ingredients as pizza, beer, donuts, eggs and chop suey), which soon leads to some digestive problems.

Following these scenes is the "Classic Big Three Moments: 1992 – Present" Special Feature. Containing thirteen-minutes of clips from Perry's public access show, most of the compilation involves Don and Mole annoying Perry, which is pretty much the theme of the whole disc. Some of the clips are funny, while others go nowhere fast. Although not especially exciting, it is interesting to see some of the older material (and I use the term "material" very loosely), especially when Jimmy Kimmel inexplicably shows up.

Finally, we have the requisite "Comedy Central Quickies," featuring "The Colbert Report," "Mind of Mencia" and "South Park" and a smattering of "DVD Previews."

"Windy City Heat" is an elaborate prank on a none-too-bright guy and, although this experiment could have come off as mean-spirited, Perry qualms these reservations by being a conceited, delusional jackass. Although some might judge this as being cruel exploitation of the terminally gullible, one cannot fault the comedic results. While still unclear as to whether or not the audience is the one being jerked around, I came away with enough laughs to not particularly care. Without a doubt, this release has all the makings of a cult hit. Check out "Windy City Heat" and judge for yourself.