Case Number 03137: Small Claims Court


Warner Bros. // 2002 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 29th, 2003

The Charge

A comedy with high notes.

The Case

Meet Lupo (Rodney Dangerfield), the charismatic owner of a popular Italian restaurant that features great food and even better singers. When the adorable Gina (Annabelle Gurwitch, Life with Mikey) shows up to sing her heart out, Lupo falls madly in love with both Gina's voice and her body. Unfortunately, Gina doesn't share the same sentiments as Lupo -- she insists that she will only be with a man who can sing opera music, and sing it well. Desperate, Lupo decides that he must learn to sing if he's to win Gina's heart. With the help of a sleazy con artist named Ierra (Robert Davi, The Goonies), Lupo flies to Italy to learn the art of singing from Vincenzo (Richard Libertini, Fletch Lives). However, Vincenzo is in cahoots with Ierra and they've both got plans to take advantage of the monetarily successful Lupo. As Lupu attempts to learn the trade of opera singing, he finds himself befriended by a small town family and their attractive daughter, Rosa (Anita De Simone). It's here that Lupo discovers the secret to great singing -- a specially blended wine (a family secret) that gives the drinker the voice of an angel. Will Lupo ever find true love with Gina? Can he sing his heart out with success? Only The 4th Tenor knows for sure.

For those who thought Meet Wally Sparks was the pinnacle of comedy, I'm sure you'll love The 4th Tenor. For the rest of us, however, this 2002 Rodney Dangerfield vehicle is a cinematic auto accident of epic proportions. First of all -- no disrespect to the usually funny Dangerfield -- he looks like a walking, talking corpse. Sporting more make-up than a Mary Kay cosmetics convention, the aging comedian's zingers seem to have run out of steam. The 4th Tenor, co-written by Dangerfield, is a lazy comedy that offers nothing new and never rises above mediocrity. Lame gags, boring characterization, and a plodding story makes for a very long 97 minutes. Let's face it: did anyone really think audiences were thirsting for a spoof about Italian opera singers? And even more disturbing, do we truly need to see the 80+ year old Dangerfield as a romantic lead (and chasing 30 year old coeds, nonetheless)? That's almost as disturbing as Kathy Bates' hot tub scene in last year's About Schmidt. However, Dangerfield is hardly the film's main flaw. The flatly unfunny cast -- made up of B-level actors like Robert Davi and Charles Fleischer -- seem to be puttering along in search of their paychecks. The comedy bits go something like this: a.) a woman hides man in Jacuzzi, he exhales and the man standing outside of tub thinks she's farting, b.) Dangerfield falls of a swing set, c.) endless jokes about Dangerfield wanting to get into Gina's shorts, and d.) Dangerfield crooning completely off-key just to prove he can't sing (which was already self evident). How's that for a thorough description of the film? Consider it a favor that I've shared the jokes and allowed you to skip out on this loser. While I obviously didn't enjoy The 4th Tenor, I do think Dangerfield is (was?) a funny guy. However, he's losing respect by the minute if he keeps on starring in these straight-to-DVD duds.

The 4th Tenor is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. For such a crappy little movie I gotta tell you: this is a pretty good looking transfer. Though it may not be reference quality, overall Warner has done a fine job of making sure this image is clear of any major imperfections or flaws. The colors and black levels all appear to be solid and well defined with only a small amount of edge enhancement and dirt showing up -- in short, this is far better than I anticipated. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. While there isn't a lot in this mix to write home about, overall it gets the job done. The music is the most prominent feature with all five speakers engaged during the emotional singing scenes. Otherwise, it's a fairly low key track that is mostly front heavy. All aspects of the mix are free of excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

As for extra features, there's not a lot to sing about here. All that's been included on this disc are three deleted scenes (ho-hum), a behind-the-scenes featurette which is your basic promotional fluff piece, and a theatrical trailer for the film.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 56

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Three Deleted Scenes
* Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
* Theatrical Trailer

* IMDb