Judge Patrick Bromley's weakness is chili cheese nachos.
You'll never look at Lucky Charms the same way again.
Before launching into my diatribe on how much I enjoyed My Weakness is Strong, the second stand-up special and third album from comedian Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille), I should confess that Oswalt is my favorite comedian. His previous two albums, Feelin' Kinda Patton and Werewolves and Lollipops, are among my very favorites of the last decade; I've listened to each of them 10 times a piece, easily. I love his intelligence and his knack for combining the literary with the absurd. I love his political anger. Mostly, though, I suspect I love him because I see in him a kindred spirit of geekboy obsessiveness.
My Weakness is Strong finds the comedian growing up and maturing, meaning a good deal of the special is about being married and having his first child (who he was expecting at the time the special was taped, but since has been born). He talks about having to find a new house to live in (and interrupting an orgy while looking), about his need to get in shape (the treadmill has to audition for his attention, whereas pretzels and porn are like a "young Brando" right through the door) and admits to suffering from depression (leading to a very funny Road Warrior-inspired routine on what would happen if he stopped taking Prozac). It's the most personal material Oswalt has ever performed, centering not so much on how he sees the world (as in previous efforts) but in how he sees himself.
That change in Oswalt's approach may require an adjustment, particularly for diehard fans like myself. For the most part, politics stay out of the mix (save for a good run involving modern-day Patton traveling back in time 10 years to tell then-Patton how much has changed in a decade), which may be a bummer until you realize that Oswalt has likely said all that he needs to say on the subject—for now, at least. A lot of the comedian's frustration seems to be gone; maybe it's the Prozac talking, but he seems to be calmer and in a better place (chances are it's actually the wife and soon-to-be-baby that account for the change).
Changes like this may cause Oswalt's fans to make snap judgments about the quality of My Weakness is Strong—they'll say it's a weaker effort and not up to the impossibly high standards set by his earlier material. I'm not sure I agree with that. While Weakness may not grab you on first viewing (or listen, if you prefer your stand-up in album form as I do), I'd argue that this latest special is a more challenging work. Oswalt is growing as a comedian, and pushing his comedy in a new direction. While he's bound to lose some people along the way, it would be a shame to give up on him so easily. If you're not blown away by My Weakness is Strong the first time you see it, I'd ask you to watch it again. I can pretty much guarantee that it will grow on you once you can abandon your preconceptions and understand what Oswalt is actually doing. To me, it's another first-rate effort from a first-rate comic.
The DVD of My Weakness is Strong (which comes bundled with the CD, giving you the option of how you'd like to take it in) is presented in a fine-looking 1.78:1 transfer that's been enhanced for 16x9 playback. There's very little that's remarkable about the quality, but for a stand-up comedy performance I've got nothing to complain about. The same goes for the 5.1 audio track, which delivers all the jokes clearly and fills the sound out with just enough of the audience laughing to give you a sense of being there live without ever pushing it.
In addition to the already-mentioned full-length CD that accompanies the disc, there are a few amusing special features that accompany My Weakness is Strong. There's a pair of fake commercials, both running about three minutes each; the first is an infomercial for the album, featuring appearances from Paul F. Tompkins and Zach Galifiankis. The second is even sillier. Oswalt capitalizes on his love for the now-cult classic The Room with a fake commercial that just barely covers up what it's spoofing; Oswalt appears as a long-haired European director (with movies like The Hallway and The Bubble Bath) imploring viewers to hide their money by investing in his films. Madmen's Jon Hamm appears in a funny cameo, once again proving he's friends with a lot of cool people.
Also included is a slideshow of images that pertain to Oswalt's routines on My Weakness is Strong and a scrapped mini-movie opening about how Oswalt doesn't want to do a mini-movie as his opening. This is worth checking out just to see him singing and dancing with a bunch of puppets about making a comedy shake.
It's a sheetcake of victory.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Alternate Opening
Review content copyright © 2009 Patrick Bromley; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.