Anchor Bay // 1977 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Harold Gervais (Retired) // June 13th, 2000
The popcorn you are eating has been pissed in. More at eleven.
From very humble beginnings comes the cult classic, The Kentucky Fried Movie.
The film started as a theater project called The Kentucky Fried Theater which brothers David & Jerry Zucker and their childhood friend Jim Abrahams (Airplane!, Top Secret!, The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!) started in Madison, Wisconsin and then moved to Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles the guys met producer Robert K. Weiss. The foursome eventually hooked up with director John Landis (Animal House, Blues Brothers, Trading Places) and the group began their quest to get this movie made.
As a series of skits, sketches and vignettes the movie has no formal plot structure and falls in the category of "go-for-broke" kind of screen comedy. One of the first of its kind, the movie functions as sort of American version of Monty Python's Flying Circus' And Now For Something Completely Different. The movie also serves as an introduction to the kind of comedy producer Lorne Micheals would bring to television a short time later with "Saturday Night Live." In other words some parts work and are flat-out funny, while others fall flat on their face. But in the tradition of the movies that would follow from the team of Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams, otherwise known as ZAZ, if you don't like one bit, just stick around because another bit will start up quickly afterwards.
To go through every sketch in The Kentucky Fried Movie would take far too much of your time. Consider this, the movie runs a mere 83 minutes but in that running time I counted 21 different bits.
Among the bits that scored big laughs were both the movie trailers, "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble" and "Cleopatra Swartz." The skit "United Appeal For The Dead" is one of the most tasteless bits of humor I have ever seen and also pretty damn funny. The movie's centerpiece sketch is the Enter The Dragon parody, "A Fistful Of Yen," and it is dead-on. It was so good it made me wonder why John Landis never tried his hand at a Kung Fu-style action comedy done on a larger scale. The comic free-for-all ends with another bright spot called "Eyewitness News" that gives new meaning to interactive television and would make me think twice about having sex with the boob tube on.
The Kentucky Fried Movie comes courtesy of my favorite little company, Anchor Bay and as always, they deliver the goods. To my knowledge this is the first time The Kentucky Fried Movie has been presented on home video in its widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and being Anchor Bay, the film is given a brand new anamorphic transfer. While there are a number of problems with the age and condition of the source material, namely the film throws off quite a bit of grain, the job done is still pretty remarkable. Colors and flesh tones are natural looking and are given great contrast. Parts of the movie were shot on videotape and while that can pose a number of problems, Anchor Bay's transfer handled them with ease. Dimly lit and nighttime footage shows off great detail with no pixelation detected.
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and it to shows some signs of its low budget heritage. There is a certain amount of background hiss and distortion but it is nothing that ever detracts from the enjoyment of the movie. Dialogue is always well heard and in this movie that is the important part.
And now for the goodies. There are enough features on the disc that if this were from another studio, oh say, Paramount, it would be called a special edition. The disc features a 8 mm home movie that was shot by the Zucker Brothers as a way to prove to their parents and friends that they were indeed making a movie in Hollywood. It runs about 20 minutes and is not in the greatest shape in the world but it is pretty entertaining. It gives a real good sense of the low budget nature of the film and the conditions that were present to get the thing made. The disc also has the original theatrical trailer which features the fictional producer Samuel L. Bronkowitz, it also is not in the best shape in the world but is still pretty funny.
The highlight of the release however is a scene specific commentary track from director John Landis, producer Robert K. Weiss and the Writing team of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker. Simply put it is one of the funniest and most entertaining commentary tracks I have yet heard. The track is in fact almost as funny as the movie itself. I got a real sense of much these guys liked each other and how much fun the movie was the make. Of the five Landis and Weiss kind of dominate the discussion with the three writings chiming in with some amusing material as well. Like the movie, the audio track is quite politically incorrect and again, funny as all get-out.
Personally I don't have any complaints with either the movie or the disc. I suppose if you are someone who is easily offended, this is not the movie for you. In The Kentucky Fried Movie nothing is held sacred with no joke or laugh being too low and the movie never wastes an opportunity to tweak some area of society. In other words, I laughed all the way through it.
With The Kentucky Fried Movie you get a funny movie, a great commentary track and some other cool extras. Additionally, Anchor Bay has transferred picture and sound with a great deal of care, making it the best this movie has looked in a long, long time.
What are you waiting for? Run out and buy this movie.
Everyone is acquitted. The Kentucky Fried Movie is a true classic and one of the funniest movies ever to appear before this bench. " I'm not wearing any pants. Film at eleven," indeed. Case dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2000 Harold Gervais; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Audio Commentary with Director John Landis, Writers David Zucker, Jim
* Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and Producer Robert K. Weiss
* Theatrical Trailer
* Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery
* On-Set Home Movies
* Talent Bios