Comedy Central // 2003 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 1st, 2004
Denis Leary is an a**hole and proud of it.
Denis Leary and his signature I'm-a-bastard-and-screw-the-world comedy have been around for a while. He's one of those actors that pops up here and there in features, but never quite broke completely through the Hollywood ranks. Over the years his movie roles have been relatively varied (his nifty turn as a detective in The Thomas Crown Affair) and then not-so-much (playing "Denis Leary" in Demolition Man). He's currently anchoring another well-received original drama on the FX network called Rescue Me, a show I've watched intermittently and can attest to its quality. Leary is excellent in it, able to slough of some of that d***head persona he wields so effectively.
But at this roast, oh, it's a different matter entirely. Comedy Central has stuck Leary on the spit, and called his friends to come and take turns putting the flame to him. Among the assembled harpooners are comedians Mario Cantone, Larry Clark, Colin Quinn, Jeff Garlin, Dane Cook, Nick DiPaolo, Jim Breuer, and Adam Ferrara, along with notables such as Michael J. Fox, Conan O'Brien, Christopher Walken, Jon Stewart, Gina Gershon, Peter Gallagher, Joe Mantegna, Rene Russo, and Ed Lover and Dr. Dre. The network truly put together a solid lineup of stars, and, most importantly actual friends of Denis's.
This latter fact goes a long way. Previous roasts I had seen featured the roastee being skewered by people he didn't know (ahem, Chevy Chase) or random Comedy Central personalities (Hugh Hefner's BBQ). But when these guys go at Leary, you can sense the familiarity here. They're all friends and they all love to rip on each other. When Denis lets loose with his rebuttal, he mainly tells true stories of his experiences with some of the characters that just spent fifty minutes laying into him. The camaraderie is apparent.
And, thankfully, so is the comedy. I'd say 75% of the program is funny. A couple of the presenters lob a few bombs, but for the most part everyone is amusing. Stand-outs include Nick Depaolo (who was the first to open fire and was absolutely hilarious), Colin Quinn (especially with his tirade about Ed Lover and Dr. Dre: "When your daughter is wearing just a Trailblazers jersey and eating Froot Loops with Rasheed Wallace, thank these guys"), and Christopher Walken (offering typically deranged insight into Denis's proclivities toward hand makeup).
Some of the more lackluster performances came courtesy of a bizarre song-and-dance routine by Gina Gershon, a surprisingly ho-hum performance from Dane Cook, and Mario Cantone, who seemed to resort to merely screaming a lot.
When it came time for Leary to hammer back, he was his typical profane self, but he was definitely radiating a smarmy kind of affection towards his pals. Taken as a whole, I'd definitely recommend sneaking a peek at his profanity-strewn offering by Comedy Central. Any slow parts are overwhelmed by the gut-busting hilarity of some of the better jokes, and the whole atmosphere of the event just seemed damn fun. And as an added bonus, Kiefer Sutherland attended and received a few Lost Boys jokes. Not bad, huh?
The bonus features are primarily cut footage and some red carpet interviews. It would have made more sense maybe to just lump it all together in one uncut, uncensored disc, but whatever. The deleted footage as it turns out though was deleted for a reason, and includes a painfully unfunny impersonation of Ruben Studdard by Patrice O'Neal, the extended cut of the semi-okay bit Ed Lover and Dr. Dre threw together about Denis's movies, and the uncut version of Leary's rebuttal.
Nothing special technically -- full screen and stereo, the norm for this kind of presentation.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Footage
* Red Carpet Interviews
* Comedy Central Quickies