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Case Number 03848: Small Claims Court

Buy Tony Stewart: Smoke at Amazon

Tony Stewart: Smoke

Universal Music // 2003 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // January 16th, 2004

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All Rise...

The Charge

Forget what you think of Tony Stewart: The Man. Prepare yourself for Tony Stewart: Smoke!

The Case

If I only knew the man, then I could prepare myself for the smoke. Tony Stewart: Smoke is a lame puff piece masquerading as an authentic documentary. It's about as informative and insightful as those videotape bios of Hulk Hogan (believe me, Hogan, you didn't get those pythons by training, praying, and scarfing vitamins) WWF spat out in the 1980s.

To some, Tony Stewart is no doubt a fascinating figure. Often called the "Bad Boy of NASCAR," his in-your-face attitude and competitive drive make him an entertaining figure. His devotion to charitable causes is noble and praiseworthy. His ascension from small town roots in Indiana to championship driver (the 2002 Winston Cup) would make a fascinating documentary.

It's unfortunate that the filmmakers forgot to make a good documentary. It's really more of a cut and paste job, combining interviews, racing footage, and whatever else they could get their hands on, into nothing more than a pastiche. The editing is the rapid, breezy type that will get on your nerves.

Stewart is interviewed, but he isn't allowed to do what we all want him to do: talk. What good is a documentary if we don't get much insight from the man himself? What this program needed was a documentarian like Chris Smith (Home Movie), who not only would have given Stewart his due, but also would have been able to make a coherent film. As it is now, Tony Stewart: Smoke will satisfy no one. It's not detailed enough for fans. It's not coherent enough for casual viewers. Who exactly was this film made for? That question will enter the annals of such unanswered questions such as "Where is Jimmy Hoffa?"

Universal Music has done a fine job transferring this program to disc. The full frame transfer is exceptionally clean, with no defects or artifacting. Colors are rich and vivid. Edge enhancement rears its' ugly head during the racing footage, but since that doesn't occur very often, I give this transfer high marks.

Audio is a mind-numbing Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix. The sound is exceptionally sharp in the racing footage. Dialogue and music sound clear throughout the feature.

There are some extras, mainly intended for the diehard fans. The popular rock group 3 Doors Down contribute a music video, which features Stewart and fellow racer Dale Earnhardt, Jr. It's not among their best work, but it's a pleasant enough listen. You also have the option of going behind-the-scenes for the making of the video in a brief featurette. A five-question trivia game is basically foolproof. They allow you to go back again and again until you have the right answer, which means that it's idiotproof. After answering all five questions, you will unleash directions for four Easter eggs. I would have checked them out, but I decided that my brain had enough punishment for one day.

With a retail price of $19.95, only the hardest of hardcore fans will want to own this disc. Casual viewers: beware!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 8

Perp Profile

Studio: Universal Music
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Documentary
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• 3 Doors Down Music Video Featuring Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
• Making of Featurette Featuring 3 Doors Down
• Trivia Game
• Four Easter Eggs
• Previews


• Official Site

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Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Treadway; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.