Judge Clark Douglas is often accused of being a stoner. Not true. He just likes carrying around rocks.
It's the same stoned look but a whole new Breuer.
Jim Breuer has a new stand-up special on DVD? Jeez, I had almost forgotten about that guy. I wonder where he has been the past few years?
Those were the thoughts that ran through my head when I noticed this disc, and undoubtedly many of you thought the exact same thing. If the name doesn't sound familiar, you might remember Jim from the "Goat-Boy" sketches on Saturday Night Live. Or perhaps you saw him in the much-loved stoner flick Half Baked? Those are pretty much his two significant accomplishments outside of his generally well-liked stand-up work. That's a fact that the DVD packaging exploits, constantly making weed references and suggesting that fans are in for more of the "same stoned" stuff. That's actually somewhat misleading. In fact, Jim Breuer: Let's Clear the Air seems designed as a re-working of Breuer's image.
The stuff you are familiar with and would expect more of comes when you first pop in the DVD. Breuer appears on the menu, cheerfully informing you that you have the option to play the feature, look through the chapters, check out the special features or mess with the audio. Cute, right? But wait, it continues. Breuer seems determined to piddle around as long as the viewer is game. He riffs on DVD menus for a while, does the Goat-Boy act for a while, the Half-Baked character for a while, and then starts impersonating various rock stars and celebrities, all of whom are pleading variations on, "Play the darn thing!" This continues for a solid 10-15 minutes, until finally Breuer collapses and the loop starts over. An A for effort, even if the comedy isn't terribly funny.
The special begins with Breuer's name in marijuana-green letters and a puff of smoke. But the man of the hour (62 minutes, to be precise) insists that he has been misrepresented. Sure, once upon a time he would partake of a little dope from time to time, but nothing serious. "I just have a face that looks stoned all the time," he says. "That's how I got the job in Half-Baked. The bad thing is that my kids look just like me, so when we go out in public everyone thinks I'm a terrible father who must be giving weed to his kids." He spends some 20 minutes or so talking about the work he is best-known for, offering slightly amusing behind-the-scenes stories about Dave Chappelle, Norm McDonald, Tracy Morgan, and other co-workers.
Still, Breuer no longer regards himself as an active celebrity. He claims that he is a husband and father first and foremost, an entertainer second. As such, his routine quickly veers into a dissection of his family life and the sobering responsibilities that come with such a task. He offers an amusing routine on the minor trials of raising three young girls, including 6 AM pot n' pan parades, incredibly crappy children's music, and coming to the terrifying realization that no matter what you do, your children will hurt themselves at some point. "Seriously, at a certain young age, children seem to be constantly looking for ways to die. If there's an electric socket they can lick or some stairs they can attempt to navigate before they can walk, you better believe they'll try to find them."
Much of this material is familiar, but those concerned by the fact that Breuer's act is in family-friendly PG territory should know that this stuff is above Home Improvement-level banality. The observations are typical but the delivery is sharp and well-constructed. By the time the act concluded, my perception of Breuer had changed a great deal. While I once thought of his a goofy stoner, I now see him as a kind-hearted family man who seems like an extraordinarily decent guy. He's Dana Carvey by way of Bill Cosby, and Let's Clear the Air is a nice demonstration of his talent.
Video is stellar here, though honestly there isn't much to look it. It's a simple stage set-up and performance, but the whole thing is rendered with satisfactory clarity. Sound is quite solid throughout, providing a modestly immersive experience with a well-balanced level of audience laughter. Breuer has a few gags where he shouts into the mic to create an effect of distortion; thankfully the audio deals with this and never gives the viewer a reason to adjust the volume. The supplements included are pretty minimal: a photo gallery and a five-minute chat between Breuer and his foul-mouthed father (note: this section is considerably more risque than the actual special, just in case families with younger kids are watching the disc).
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
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