Universal // 1995 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 25th, 2007
Want to touch the heiny.
This time, the film that unleashed Adam Sandler into pop culture consciousness gets the next-gen treatment.
Maybe you've heard of this movie. Adam Sandler (Click), a young actor from Saturday Night Live, stars as Billy Madison, a full-grown man masquerading as a moron who needs to return to school and complete all 12 grades of education so he can inherit his father's billion-dollar hotel company.
Standing in his way is the sniveling bad guy, Eric (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing) who looks to sabotage Billy's comeback tour so he can get his hands on the company himself. But with Pete Sampras's wife in his corner, Billy can't lose, right?!?
Love him or hate him, Adam Sandler is a major player in the world of big-screen comedy and is arguably the most successful graduate of SNL. And it was this film that set fire to his career and made funny faces, weird voices and high-pitched frat boy humor such a viable cash enterprise.
I'll be the first to admit that as uneven as it is, Billy Madison consistently makes me laugh...in spots. Those surreal "invisible penguin" moments, man, I can't get enough of them and thankfully this film boasts an impressive stockpile of truly bizarre humor. On the other hand, the slapsticky stuff and Sandler's endless voice alterations grow tedious in record time and betray the film's novelty; it was kind of cool seeing the guy bring his SNL shtick to the big screen, even though at the time we were unaware we'd see it again and again and again and again. But, hey, I like Sandler. He seems like a good dude and he makes me laugh more than the makes me irritated.
I won't torture the movie wrap-up as I severely doubt most of this site's readership has never caught enough of the film to make a judgment, but I'll toss it a thumbs-up. Some jokes tank huge, but a lot are quite good, and have achieved near classic status. That dodge ball scene? Iconic. Plus my homegirl Bridgette Wilson, who got her start on Saved by the Bell and would later hone her craft to perfection as Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat is transfixing.
Onto the real point of this review: the HD difference. Universal continues to clear its catalog, and the good news right away is that Billy Madison looks great in high-definition. This is a film that is just slathered with color, which comes across beautifully in all of its HD glory. The frequent party and classroom scenes look slick and the details are well-defined. Overall, the transfer (VC-1 encoded, 1080p) is clean and worthy of a look in high definition. But as is the case with these out-of-the-vault titles, the extras fail to take advantage of the new technology. The feature commentary from director Tamra Jones, deleted scenes and outtakes have all been recycled from the DVD release. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus audio mix is fine, though the step up from the previous mix isn't a disc-seller.
Much of this version of Billy Madison is stuff you've seen before (including the movie itself, I'm sure), but the disc has it where it counts: the video enhancement is a marked improvement.
The bench continues to lament the absence of bonus features on these catalog releases, but jeezum if this movie don't look purty!
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital Plus 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Director's Commentary
* Deleted Scenes