Lionsgate // 2003 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 20th, 2004
"That's crazy!" -- Brian Fellow
The self-described "other black guy" gets a "Best of" treatment with this disc, spotlighting 75 minutes of what SNL's producers have deemed his finest material.
For seven years (1996-2003), Tracy Morgan shifted in and out of obscurity on Saturday Night Live, eventually scoring major points with some hit recurring characters. It was a tough first few years, though, as the actor's visibility was, to say the least, limited.
But onward he trucked, and ultimately revealed himself -- in this humble judge's opinion -- as one of the funnier cast members on the show. With characters like Brian Fellow (one of my favorites), Woodrow the homeless man, Dominican Lou, Astronaut Jones, and his legendary portrayal of Star Jones, Tracy Morgan became a valuable quantity on SNL.
An explosion of these "Best of" collections have recently come out. The selection includes some interesting choices. For example Will Ferrell gets another volume, and Christopher Walken, who isn't even a cast member, gets a disc.
Despite my confessed affinity for Morgan, I probably wouldn't classify him as one of the most wildly popular Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players. As such, it would surprise me if there was a humongous fan contingent clamoring for a compilation of his stuff.
Well, screw them. I'm glad this disc exists. But is it worth your mad coin?
In a nutshell -- and when I think about it, I don't even know what that means -- The Best of Tracy Morgan plays just like a normal episode of Saturday Night Live. That is, it starts out strong, with some very funny sketches, then slowly loses steam, eventually reaching the back end, which kind of just blows.
The program opens with Morgan's most famous character, Brian Fellow, and his Safari Planet. I can't get enough of this sketch. Seriously, these Fellow sketches are, at their core, ridiculous; but laugh I do. This iteration, featuring The Rock, is the first of two Brian Fellow sketches; the latter being my favorite, with Matt Damon. The second sketch, unfortunately, has the dubious distinction of heralding the tailspin in quality of succeeding bits...but we'll get to that later.
These two sketches are great, in my opinion. Two more sketches featuring "Astronaut Jones" are equally funny, and the Hardball parody where Morgan plays Harry Belafonte is absolutely hilarious. From then on things get uneven, ranging from "fairly amusing" to "laugh-free."
I was never a real fan of the Woodrow character, feeling the skits were too drawn out, and the Woodrow offering here is no different. Some of the stinkers include "The Pimp Show," where Morgan and Tim Meadows jaw in the back of a limo, decked out in pimp costumes (wow. hilarious.), a skit where Morgan and Jim Breuer play ex-porn stars in an office setting -- a set-up that sounds funny, but is executed pathetically, and then a really dumb sketch about King Kong's erection. No thanks.
I would say the disc is about fifty-fifty: half of it is good, half of it sucks. Again -- just like your typical SNL show.
The full-frame picture is solid. The stereo mix won't leave you floored, but it will get the job done. NBC does a good job with these discs; I especially dig the interface and menu system. The ability to skip through sketches is also appreciated.
The extras on this disc are pretty interesting. A dress rehearsal sketch (which had been cut from the live show) is actually fairly okay, and light years better than some of the crap that (amazingly) made the feature. Also there's a blooper reel, which shows Morgan stumbling over his lines; the actor's audition (almost surprising he was hired in the first place!); a photo gallery; and two appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
For Tracy Morgan fans only. The inconsistency of the sketches deep-six an across-the-board recommendation.
Guilty of putting together a hit-and-miss affair, the accused will have its sentence suspended for including some winners that almost make the disc worth the price.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Dress Rehearsal Footage
* TV Appearances
* Photo Gallery
* Gag Reel
* SNL Official Site