Sony // 2001 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 15th, 2002
The most outer spaced-put comedy every!
I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Is Leslie Nielsen still alive? And making movies? Apparently so. After appearing in Airplane! and The Naked Gun series, as well as a few flops like Wrongfully Accused and kiddie fare Mr. Magoo, Neilson seemed to drop off of comedy watchers' radars. However, a peek at the Internet Movie Database shows that Neilson has been quite busy making movies -- only they're B-grade flicks or low-budget slapstick flicks for kids. In between his busy schedule of making crap, Neilson suited once more as Lt. Frank Drebin...err, I mean International Security Force officer Marshal Dix in the wacky 2001: A Space Travesty. Also starring a bunch of ugly Martians, a few boob gags, and lots of poop jokes, 2001: A Space Travesty comes crashing down on DVD care of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.
Great Spock! President Bill Clinton (Damien Mason) has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by a clone, and only one man can save him: Marshal Dix! Shot to the planet Vegan with a sexy assistant named Cassandra Menage (the luscious yet empty Ophelie Winter), Dix is on a quest to find out who's behind the kidnapping and get the President back home safe and sound. Of course, Dix is going to run into all kinds of trouble, including whacked out space cops and an alien that takes a bowel movement once every year! (If you don't see where that joke is headed, you are an official moron). Dix finds his nemesis in Dr. Griffin Pratt (Peter Egan), a snarling bad guy who wants nothing but complete world domination...or something like that. What's it matter? The plot isn't the issue here. The only reason folks will be watching 2001: A Space Travesty is to see Neilson do his usual shtick and possibly to discover how an alien takes his yearly mega-dump.
What can you say about a movie that rips off not only Airplane's star (Neilson) and genre, but also its THEME music. I'm sure that this observation has already been made, but let me make it again: 2001: A Space Travesty lives up to its name: a travesty. Here is a movie that is unfunny in almost every way. It's not that it's offense or rude (though there are some tasteless terrorist jokes, and some of the humor is pretty crass). No, the problem is that almost every joke in this movie has been done before, and done to much better effect. When Neilson is working with the Zucker brothers he strikes gold (and let's face it, that was QUITE a while ago). When he's elsewhere, he sinks faster than Mariah Carey's career (for those of you who want to know what I'm talking about, head on over and read my review of Carey's shiver-inducing Glitter).
Here are a few sample jokes from the movie: A woman appears to be giving a man oral sex, but when she turns around (with white stuff on her face, no less), she is actually drinking a foamy latte near his crotch; Neilson disguises himself as an opera singer complete with a beard that has CONDOMS clinging off it for no other reason than to be funny; Aliens on Vegan have learned to speak English from American movies and now talk like Arnold Schwarzenegger; and so on, and so on. Does any of this sound funny? If so, you will pee your pants watching 2001: A Space Travesty. As for me, I nodded off about a dozen or so times during its 98-minute running time.
I've noticed with straight-to-DVD comedies that the cast usually seems to be trying way too hard to make the audience laugh. 2001: A Space Travesty is no different. Neilson does his usual deadpan style (in all honesty Dix is just an outer space version of his much more funny Lt. Drebin) and also mugs for all he's worth when applicable. His sidekick Ophelie Winter is complete eye candy from one scene to the next. In fact, I can't even imagine that she had to audition for her role. I'm guessing the producer just saw her headshot and hired her on the spot. The most annoying of the cast members is a little French man named Ezio Greggio. Like Roberto Benigni's creepy brother, Greggio flops around and makes about as many goofy faces as he can muster. After ten minutes of this guy's antics it made me long for the more subtle days of Jerry Lewis.
I don't want to say that I had high hopes for 2001: A Space Travesty, but I thought I would be lucky enough to find a few things funny in the movie. You know you're in trouble when the only laughs come at the very end credits which include some humorous fart gags. If only the producers would have put this in the very beginning, it would have saved me a lot of time. You can thank me for informing you ahead of time. As for the movie, pass it like a gall stone.
2001: A Space Travesty is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. Deceptively, the back of the package reads that 2001: A Space Travesty is presented in "anamorphic video." Don't be fooled, for this is actually a cropped pan and scan version of the film. Otherwise, the picture looks passable with the colors appearing bright and bold and black levels well saturated. A small amount of grain and dirt shows up in the image (as well as some halo effect), but it's never overly intrusive to the viewing.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English. Surprisingly, this is a very bombastic soundtrack the often utilizes both the front and rear speakers. Explosions, slapstick sound effects, and music are all cued around the viewer which makes for a spacious and well mixed soundtrack. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music are free and clear of any distortion. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
The only extra features available on this disc are some bonus trailers for other Columbia DVD comedies, though the 2001: A Space Travesty trailer is conspicuously missing.
2001: A Space Travesty is the bottom feeder of the Zucker brothers brand of humor. Comedy is subjective, and now that I've been subjected to this I feel like a need a classic comedy, like Ski Patrol or The Return Of The Killer Tomatoes (okay, maybe those aren't classic, but they are compared to this stinker).
Why this film is rated R is beyond me. While there are some crude jokes along the way, the language is very clean and any sex and violence nearly absent. I'd say that this is fine entertainment for kids 12 and up.
2001: A Space Travesty is found guilty of making me wait until after the end credits for the funny part. Boo! Hiss! Columbia is slapped with a hefty fine for their misprint of the video presentation on the packaging. Case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailers