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Case Number 02852: Small Claims Court

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Elephant Parts

Anchor Bay // 1981 // 62 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 3rd, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Winner of the very first Grammy Award for video!

The Case

It's the weird, wacky world of Michael Nesmith, better known as one-fourth of the rock group "The Monkees." In Nesmith's strange extended video Elephant Parts, viewers experience such enlightening moments as Nesmith singing '50s inspired rock tunes and hauntingly cheesy ballads. But that's not all! Act now, and you'll also get a buttload of skits ranging from learning the pirate alphabet (Rrrrrr, Iiiiiiiiii and Ooooooo), commercials for musical food processing products (i.e., a Nesmith album that also moonlights as a veggie dicer), and silly horror movie parodies (Coming soon! A slasher flick featuring a guy in a yellow smiley face mask and it's called "Have a Nice Day!"). It's a virtual cornucopia of comedic soup as Michael and his cast dish out some of the strangest parodies this side of the nuthouse!

For sheer goofy entertainment, you just couldn't beat The Monkee's TV show. Though it was juvenile and as thought-provoking as a canned ham, the show nonetheless retained a quirky quality that is still enjoyed by TV fans today. In 1981, Michael Nesmith decided to branch his comedic abilities into a new style and uprooted a Saturday Night Live-like movie that has become a cult classic. To watch Elephant Parts in 2003 is a somewhat disarming experience—in a way it's like being transported back to the (somewhat) innocence of the early 1980s. There are a few of gags that are still pretty funny (the bit with the Elvis Drugs is particularly amusing), though a lot of the material falls flat on its face. The placid nature of many of the skits is due mostly in part to the fact that times have changed and so has the country's sense of what is funny. Whereas a Marines skit featuring an effeminate gay man with a lisp was hysterical in 1981, today it's just downright un-PC (though I will admit I did let out a minor giggle…after all, I'm only human). As for the musical numbers, they're standard video stuff with Nesmith playing a few funny characters, like a smooth lounge singer or a smitten '50s rock and roller. Chiming in at around an hour, the film's often blandly obnoxious nature ends just as you're ready to pull the plug. While this isn't fall down funny TV, it does have its charming moments that will work best with nostalgia fans and those who think big game hunters shooting supermarket vegetables is fascinating entertainment. Otherwise, stick with Mr. Nesmith's original TV effort.

Elephant Parts is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame television format. Alas, this isn't a great looking print—due to the video medium and the film's age, this picture often sports fuzzy images, muddled colors, and small amounts of grain and dirt. However, the fault doesn't lie with Anchor Bay—the company has put forth a solid effort and come up with what is most likely the best looking print of this video/film/TV special. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. While the sound mix certainly fares better than the video presentation, overall this isn't the most exciting of soundtracks. While the dialogue, music, and effects are mostly clear, a small amount of distortion still lingers in the mix. Otherwise, this track works well with the film its supporting sans any directional effects. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this disc.

It's no real shock that Elephant Parts wasn't given the full blown special edition status. However, fans of the film will be happy to note that a production gallery of images from behind-the-scenes has been included on this disc, as well as a commentary track by Michael Nesmith. The commentary track is packed with a fair amount of information, as well as some amusing moments of Nesmith talking to a few of the characters on the screen. Nesmith also throws out a few funny asides that make this track above average. Since the film is only a little over an hour long, this track is actually worth listening to.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 71

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 62 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Concerts and Musicals
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary by Writer/Producer/Actor Michael Nesmith
• Production Still Gallery


• IMDb

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