Warner Bros. // 2006 // 519 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // October 27th, 2008
"What's the worst that can happen? So he blows it. It's a life lesson, and we get a donut machine." -- Charlie Harper on Alan's son Jake winning money at the track.
The fourth season of Two and a Half Men continues its tradition of offensively comedic material, and I can't stop watching.
Jingle writer and confirmed bachelor Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen, Platoon) lives in his beach house with his live-in brother, Alan (Jon Cryer, Hiding Out) and Alan's part-time son Jake (Angus T. Jones, The Rookie), when he's not staying with Alan's ex-wife.
Charlie and Alan's personalities, as you might guess, are completely opposite. Alan's the straight-laced, iron-your-jeans kind of guy, and Charlie's the "this rum is good, what day is it?" womanizer. Jake is well, as Charlie says to Jake one particular morning over breakfast, "I don't think of you as a kid, I think of you as a kind of gassy dwarf."
Two and a Half Men is harmless fun, a little raunchier than you'd expect before 10 p.m., but several times I found myself laughing out loud. Most connoisseurs of comedy know that the funniest funny is in awkward situations. Between Charlie and Alan, there's plenty of that.
Now, with Jake getting older, it's even better because he's an unwitting part of the jokes, though they are presumably intended to go over his head. For example, in one episode, Alan is complaining of insomnia. Both Jake and Charlie suggest he take a sleeping pill, something Alan doesn't agree with. "Can't sleep? Take a pill," he says. "Can't wake up? Take a pill. Feeling sad? Take a pill. Can't get it up? Take a pill." Jake's response is of course, "Can't get what up?" His character I believe is 10 years old, but in actuality, he just turned 15. I'm not sure how long they think they'll be able to get away with his age.
The writing is top notch. Sure, there are times when it seems innuendos are a little overdone, especially with Charlie (and with the way he acts as well, I feel like I should hear a rim-shot after some dialogue). The acting is pretty good, but overwhelmingly, the draw of this show is Jon Cryer. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jon Cryer is Alan Harper. I can't imagine him any other way. For goodness sakes, Cryer graduated from The Bronx High School of Science, a specialized school with one common goal: "To advance the self and society," according to the school's Web site. I'm sure they handed out pocket protectors in the welcome packet. The interesting thing is that it doesn't matter. Cryer's a funny guy playing a believable lonely single father who on occasion loses his best judgment around women in fear that he'll never have another opportunity to have sex again. And, he's very neat and clean.
Now for the dirty and wholly obnoxious, there's Charlie. There's a part of me that believes that Charlie Sheen and his character are also one in the same. His acting feels a bit forced at times, like he's just reading words on a page. But part of me also thinks that he really likes what he's doing and is trying to do it to the best of his ability. But really, maybe he's just rusty. After all, the last good TV show he did was a part on Spin City in 2002, a year before Two and a Half Men began. And before that, the last good movie he was in was what, Major League II in 1994? Was that even good? I don't remember. Perhaps gossip of his private life has tainted my opinion of him. The other possibility: He just plays his part really well, and it makes me think ill of him. Please to read the extras in which he also has a small role.
Season Four of the series features 24 episodes over four discs; seven episodes on three discs, and the fourth disc holds the remainder and any extras, of which there are few. But really, who'd want commentaries on every episode? The special features go like this:
Disc three includes a commentary on the episode, "Tucked, Taped, and Gorgeous," with co-creators of the show Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn. For 21 minutes and change, the duo "reminisces," and that's exactly how they introduce the commentary. This particular episode is one where both Charlie and Alan question their sexual identities. The two joke about their oh-so-subtle Freudian slips, like when a friend of Alan's who happens to be gay gives Charlie a cigar and says, "Here you go. One of those Cuban fellas you like puffin' on." In this commentary, we find out that the titles of the episodes are just lines in the script. How else could they come up with one episode titled "Mr. McGlue's Feedbag."
Disc four features a commentary on that particular episode, "Mr. McGlue's Feedbag," which Cryer directed, with the series' three headlining cast members: Cryer, Sheen, and Jones. Since Cryer directed, he talks to that a bit, but it's a very nice, basic conversation between the three. They all ask each other questions and honestly seem to care about the answers, even Sheen. Jones asks Sheen about whether or not he likes the couch on the set next to the kitchen where the two of them often share some time. It appears as if Jones already knows the answer, but Sheen's response is pretty funny. He says he can never get comfortable on it, because most of the time, his feet don't touch the floor. Sheen also reveals that he hates phone monologues. I can understand. I even hate talking on the phone when there's someone on the other line. Since a lot of episode time takes place in the kitchen, Cryer talked briefly about the stuff that he drinks on the show, including some green juice, which he says "is really good, but it doesn't sit well when you drink gallons. It's got penicillin or polysporin, or spirulina. Yes, spirulina!" There's that Bronx School of Science kicking in.
Also included on disc four is the eight-minute gag reel that's just so-so funny. It's kind of cute to see Jones crack up on some lines. His eyes disappear when he laughs.
Lastly is the 13-minute "Two Men Talking About Two and a Half Men." Clever title. This is Lorre and Aronsohn talking about the series, how it came about, and what they try to accomplish each episode. On offensiveness: "Anyone who is offended by the show has long ago stopped watching." One thing's for sure, I'll certainly keep watching -- at least on DVD.
If Sheen could soften his acting a bit and make it more natural, that might help. And add some more extras next go round, because this series shows no signs of slowing down. So if fans are going to keep purchasing the DVDs, the network needs to make it worth their while.
Hardly anything is offensive to me. If it's written right, I could care less about the subject material. As the creators say in one of the extras on dialogue that they include in the show: "It doesn't just get put in because it's funny. It has to be laugh-out-loud funny." And a lot of it is. Although the show may not be appropriate for young kids, it's perfect for whacked out adults like me. If you're unsure about the comedy, the show's been nominated and won several Emmys, and you can always test it out by watching full episodes on the CBS Web site.
Not guilty. But because of Charlie Harper's womanizing qualities, I feel guilty saying that.
Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Portuguese)
Running Time: 519 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Selected Episode Commentary
* Show Creator Discussion
* Gag Reel
* Official Site
* Wikipedia: Two and a Half Men