($*#@%!*), you ugly mother($*#@%!*)s, it's so ($*#@%!*) good to ($*#@%!*) be here in ($*#@%!*) New Orleans, I could almost ($*#@%!*) myself ($*#@%!*) silly!!
In the 1980s there were lots of stand-up comics, but maybe none as well known as the irascible Richard Pryor. Like Eddie Murphy, Pryor was not only known for his outrageous wit, but also the use of every four letter-word known (and unknown) to man. By the time Richard Pryor: Here and Now was filmed live in New Orleans, Pryor had already starred in a batch of stand-up films including Richard Pryor Live In Concert and Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip. Pryor had also become a well known actor, featured in such films as Neil Simon's California Suite, the Gene Wilder buddy picture Stir Crazy, opposite the great Jackie Gleason in The Toy, and the somewhat abysmal sequel Superman III. In 1983, Pryor took the directing reigns (with some help by executive producer Jim Brown) and out came Richard Pryor: Here and Now, now on DVD from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment!
Facts of the Case
In this 1983 concert, Pryor takes aim at everything from sex to drinking to too many women in a non-stop barrage of foul mouthed banter and obnoxious audience members! Let the mayhem begin!
When I was a kid, I can remember hearing all about Eddie Murphy Raw. In that infamous performance film, Murphy spewed forth a septic tank worth of swear words that would rival Andrew Dice Clay and Goodfellas combined as the most verbally obscene film ever produced. Pryor is known as a king in his field, ranking alongside Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, and Roseanne as one of the most famous comics to make the circuit. Battling both drugs and alcohol in his younger days, Pryor lets us all know that at this point in his life he's been free and clear of intoxicants for seven months (and how many of us are surprised he lived that lifestyle considering he was raised in a brothel?). To say the least, Pryor is a fascinating and complicated fellow.
Of course, the real question on everyone's mind: is Richard Pryor: Here and Now funny? Yes and no. I can safely say that Pryor's standup routine is not to my taste. It's not that I'm overly offended by the language (though the excessive use of the words f**k and s**t becomes a bit old). It's not that the material is extremely dated (though some pondering on Libya seems a bit stale). The reason I didn't find Pryor funny was that (and I'm getting ready for the scathing emails) I'm a white guy. NOW HOLD ON! Before you start sending me hate mail, let me say that this doesn't mean that black people aren't funny, nor that white people won't think Pryor's funny. Heck, I think Pryor's funny—just not here. There are some instances where I laughed—I don't want to give the impression that I sat sullenly in my chair for the entire hour and a half. However, I guess there are sometimes cultural differences in humor. Just as movies like Legally Blonde and Caddyshack seem to be tailor made for middle-to-upper class white folks, films like Pootie Tang, I Got The Hook Up! and Richard Pryor: Here and Now are aimed at the African American market. There are some funny things to be seen here—Pryor's discussion on going back to Africa is humorous, and hearing him rant about nuclear bombs and fallout shelters is also somewhat entertaining. However, on the whole this concert just doesn't have the wit or enthusiasm as some of Pryor's past performances (both on-stage and in films). Maybe my biggest problem with this concert is the obnoxiousness of the audience—while Pryor seems to genuinely enjoy their participation, I thought they were too rowdy and rude for their own good. Then again, I'm sure that audiences who go to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time feel the same way about people throwing toast and rice at the movie screen. Go figure.
There's not a whole lot more to be said about Richard Pryor: Here and Now. I'm sure that fans of the comedian's live routine will be more than happy to own this disc. Besides, Pryor was a mold-breaking comic who took a look at the life of both blacks and whites in a way that no one else had before him. For that, Pryor will always be a legend in his field.
Richard Pryor: Here and Now is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This image displays a very muted and worn out look that is not quite as distracting as one might think. While it's always nice to have the crispest and cleanest image possible, watching a man trounce around onstage doesn't require sharpness that rivals Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The color schemes (what there are of them) and black and blue levels (lots of 'em) all look generally well rendered and saturated. Also included on side B of this disc is a pan and scan version of the film.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono and sounds flat and uninspired. Since this is a concert, the use of a 5.1 mix wasn't really warranted (though it certainly would have been welcome). Aside of a small amount of distortion during a few scenes (especially when drunk and rude audience members start yelling things from their seats), this version of Richard Pryor: Here and Now is clear of most audio imperfections and hiss. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles.
The only extra features available on this disc are some fancy menus! SEE Richard Pryor standing by his microphone! FEEL the color blue in the background! EXPERIENCE the fact that you don't get one stinkin' extra feature on this disc!
You should be able to find Richard Pryor: Here and Now for a pretty cheap price, though I'd recommend this as a rental before a purchase. While Richard Pryor: Here and Now wasn't my cup of tea, others may bust a gut during this live concert. To each his own. Now I'm off to watch a more humorous movie, such as Return Of The Killer Tomatoes…
Richard Pryor: Here and Now is fined a minimum fee of sixty bucks for the exclusion of even one single solitary extra feature. The rest of the case has been judged a mistrial due to the fact that while I didn't like it, this movie may sit well with other people's tastes.
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