Judge Aaron Bossig is confident that this DVD, detailing men's habits of drinking, cursing, and forgetting stuff, will demonstrate the brilliance of our gender.
Getting dumped has never been funnier!
I dunno about that. I got a few guffaws watching The Tao of Steve, but Robert Dubac's DVD is pretty clever too.
Facts of the Case
You know the drill, guys. She's mad at you. You don't know why. The easiest way to solve this is to have her tell you what is wrong. Of course, she's not going to. Bobby (Robert Dubac) finds himself in this classic male predicament, and the only way he can figure out what his girlfriend wants is to have a dialogue with the male and female halves of his brain, to figure out what women truly do want (and why our male intellects aren't able to process this kind of information). Robert Dubac's one-man-show is part stand-up comedy and part seminar, and according to the DVD case, he's got two hours to figure out stuff that still boggles the rest of humanity after thousands of years.
Okay men, here's the good news: when you argue with a woman, sometimes you might actually be right. Here's the bad news: even if you are, it doesn't matter.
Why is that? Well, listen to Bobby's story. Out of the clear blue sky, his girlfriend Julie leaves him, saying she'll call back in two weeks, and he is not to contact her in the meantime. If he wants any chance at getting her back, he needs to figure out what she truly wants. With only two hours left, he's still stumped. So, he opens up to the audience for help. Fact is, Bobby doesn't know what women want, because he doesn't think women have ever told us. Any man who has ever had a conversation involving the exchange "What's wrong?" and "Nothing…" will probably agree with him. Women will insist that, if we know them long enough, they shouldn't have to tell us. Men would like the chance to disagree, but we won't, because secretly, we're afraid you really did tell us and we forgot already.
That doesn't help Bobby much. All he can do is call upon both his own female side and the advice given to him by men he grew up with. These men appear in the form of costumes worn by Bobby during the show. It seems that over time, a military man explained to him the value of being honest (and mentioned that women don't make sense, and it's pointless to wonder why). A senile old man showed him how much women love a sense of humor (although he grew old alone). Bobby received his lessons about sex from the neighborhood player (who advised him to love 'em fast and leave 'em first). Yeah, in some ways, these guys had a few good points to make…but Bobby knows that listening to all their advice is what got him dumped in the first place. Balancing out his chauvinistic upbringing is the right half of his brain, his feminine side. The disembodied voice echoes the knowledge he does have but has never really used.
So, to help sort out his issues, Bobby has a troupe of flawed male role models, an invisible female guide, and a filing cabinet full of beer (don't worry, he'll fully explain the importance of alcohol on the male thought process). Pondering the advice given to him by his peers, Bobby starts to relate hysterical stories about the dumb things he and his girlfriend fought over. He'll explain how he got distracted by an old crush at a picnic and accidentally forgot his girlfriend's brother's name. Although in pure guy fashion, he covered it up by mumbling into his beer. Somehow or other, this leads to him calling Julie frigid. Naturally, the situation only escalates from there. How could he forget the guy's name? Well, as Bobby explains, "We don't forget things, because we're not listening; we can't remember things, because we know so much."
These remarks start out as jokes, but slowly, Bobby forms a very complex story about how his relationship fell apart—and what he can do to put it back together. What starts out being a punch line ends up being a measure of personal growth. Bobby's stories slowly let him transform into an ideal man: one who can listen and communicate, but who hasn't given up his tendencies to goof off or eat like a pig. Sorry, ladies, we can't give up all our bad habits; some of them are just embedded into that Y chromosome. It's not a bad thing, though. It turns out that Bobby's most positive male role model was Ronnie Cabrezzi, a Bronx native with a sharp tongue and a fighter's instinct. When it comes to women, though, his heart was pure gold. Ronnie knew how to treat women right, and he was ready to beat the tar out of anyone who didn't. He ends up being the one to show Bobby how to open his heart and reach out to someone (and also leaves us with some advice on how to get some bada-bing).
Without a doubt, the performance works. Dubac is talented and has some exceptional material here. The show lives up to its title: it does give a fairly honest look at how guys think. Oddly enough, it's also a great reference for understanding women too (admittedly a much denser topic). This review does link to the show's official website; I encourage you to try and catch a live performance, geography permitting. It's that much fun.
Backing up the great performance is some exceptional editing. Inside the Male Intellect is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, which is a great match for the stage itself and lets the camera grab quite a bit of the action. When we, the audience, need to focus on something small, like Bobby toying with a cigarette, or switching to a different character, the screen splits and wipes to direct our attention. It's extremely natural and never feels cheesy or distracting. This kind of editing takes the stage material and brings to it the benefits of DVD. There are some nice extras included too: a set of deleted scenes (mostly of unused footage from other shows) and a 15-minute prepaid phone card. This has to be one of the most unique extras I've seen in a while. Perhaps it's a little incentive to pick up the phone and practice communicating?
A disclaimer at the beginning of the DVD mentions a commentary. I have not been able to locate any separate commentary track on this disc. It seems to be an error.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Inside the Male Intellect is a live show, and as such, it works best in that venue. The editors have done a spectacular job in trying to capture the energy of the performance on a DVD, but part of the value of going to a live show is the spontaneity of it. You can feel the performer feed off the audience. This DVD is most likely spliced together from several different shows, each time using the best take of each particular scene, eliminating any mistakes. It's a perfect show, but in the real world, there is no such thing. Look at the deleted scenes included with the disc. Sure, they were deleted because they weren't perfect, but part of the actor's showmanship is in how he improvises using the unexpected. It's a talent unique to stage acting and something a DVD won't do justice to.
What bothers me more is that the ending feels a bit hollow. Throughout the whole routine, Bobby is trying to find a way to reconcile his breakup and find a way to be happy again. Without giving away too much, I can say that Bobby finds the answer he's looking for and is rewarded with a renewed relationship. However, it's undermined by a joke at the very end which kind of cancels out his victory. You start to wonder if Bobby made the right choice. In the end, his feminine half makes a mistake, just as his masculine half does. We find out that he misjudged Julie not calling. Did he misjudge anything else?
Eh, he probably did. He is a guy, after all.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek humor of the title, Inside the Male Intellect is not a total lampooning of male buffoonery. Nor is it a victory dance over women and confusing female traits. It's simply an honest look at why men and women can both try so hard to communicate and still fail miserably. The show does a decent job of explaining how guys can appear to be clueless, when we think we're being smart about things (and sometimes, we are). The female mystique is broken down into nuggets of information digestible to a male brain, and while Bobby probably isn't right about everything (hey, I'm a man, and I like cats), he's made more progress than most people out there.
Bobby has survived a breakup with a bitter woman. This court can offer no punishment that will top that.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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