Comedian Bob Saget (TV’s Full House) makes his feature film directorial debut with Dirty Work featuring cameos from Saturday Night Live alums Chris Farley, Chevy Chase and Adam Sandler. Dirty Work is written for the screen by Frank Sebastiano (Beer League), Norm MacDonald (TV’s Norm, Saturday Night Live) and Fred Wolf (Grown Ups). It stars MacDonald, Artie Lange (Madtv, Elf), Jack Warden (12 Angry Men, All the President’s Men), Traylor Howard (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Monk) and Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore, Requiem for a Dream). Its one of my personal favorite comedies from the 90s and I was very happy to see Olive Films picking it up to put onto Blu-ray!
Best friends Mitch and Sam have come up with a business that can’t fail – a “revenge” service that’ll take on the Dirty Work of “getting even,” handling those unpleasant things in life that people can’t or won’t take care of on their own. But when the guys butt heads with shady property developer Travis Cole, they may have met their match. Or have they? This time revenge will not only be sweet, but hilarious, when the Dirty Work really begins.
Norm MacDonald is my all-time favorite Weekend Update anchor and one of my favorite Saturday Night Live cast members of all time. His humor during his era was a little ahead of its time, and you sort of had to get on the same page as him. It’s very dry, bitter and relentless. So, when his first feature film came a knocking in the summer of 1998, I was all over it. I was hoping that this would launch Norm into some greater stardom. I mean, they were putting his movie out in the summer, they had high expectations.
And I knew right away from seeing Dirty Work opening night to a mostly empty theater, that this one wasn’t going to take off at all. It managed to hit the top 10 in the #9 spot and then fell off all together totaling ten million dollars in its theatrical run. Norm would get another lead in a film, and some shots at sitcoms before relegating things to personal projects and then now becoming THE Colonel Sanders for KFC’s current ad campaign.
Regardless of the film’s success, I really loved it. And I still think its very funny today. I never realized how damn short it was until this review (just over 75 minutes before the credits start rolling). It featured Norm’s schtick and gags woven into a movie about getting revenge through heinous pranks on people. His punchline deliveries were there and he carried over his tape recorder “Note to Self:” bit into the movie as well. It was Norm MacDonald humor on a big scale and I enjoyed every second of it.
They actually beefed this movie up with his co-stars and also cameos. Bob Saget also made his directorial debut on the film, and his humor and Norm’s are both along the same level (Surprisingly this was kept at a PG-13 rating). Artie Lange makes for a good pairing with MacDonald as they share some good chemistry with one another. Chevy Chase and Chris Farley also have small roles, both bringing the best of what they can do. Chevy actually feels like he got to just run with his humor here and it kills in some parts. Jack Warden classes up the joint, and remember Traylor Howard? She was a thing during this time in the 90s, and she’s absolutely adorable here. Then there’s the other McDonald, and if you want a villain in a comedy in the 90s, there’s no better than he.
As someone who loved this movie and the comedic actor it was trying to promote, it still held up for me quite well. I don’t know the ins and outs as to whether this became a cult classic or not, but most people I know that have seen it tended to enjoy it to varying degrees. I was excited to revisit this one and notch it into my Blu-ray collection and with how short it is, I’ll definitely be giving it frequent spins.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Clarity/Detail: Dirty Work’s video transfer comes a bit messy, with some scenes and shots that do manage to impress, but overall this looks a bit disappointing. The contrast looks to be blasted and has some colors looking way too vivid. The image is a bit soft and seems to have some edge enhancement in places. There is some decent to good overall detail that shines through, but overall, the picture could have been a lot better looking.
Depth: Flat picture for the most part. Movements look good, there are areas that do pick up the slack, but for the most part its not too big on its dimensional work.
Black Levels: Blacks are deep and do feature some crushing and hidden detail.
Color Reproduction: Colors get to be a little too outrageous. Some reds, oranges and yellows are far too vibrant and bleed like crazy, hiding plenty of detail. Look no further than pretty much most of the solid color shirts Artie Lange wears in the film.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and pretty much stay that way throughout. Close-up shots features some decent amounts of detail on wrinkles, dimples, pores and the like.
Noise/Artifacts: Some grain and dirt. There is some slight aliasing present.
Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
Dynamics: Dirty Work sports a pretty average audio track. It gets the job done, but isn’t going to really wow. Some more action moments do feature some nicely rounded effects, but overall the vocals, effects and score are sort of stagnant and not too loose from one another.
Low Frequency Extension: N/A
Surround Sound Presentation: N/A
Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is a little low at times, but clean and clear.
Trailer (HD, 1:26)
I’m a big fan of Dirty Work and have always loved the comedy of Norm MacDonald. This Blu-ray release had me excited, but the picture quality on it didn’t seem to translate over very well (Or it could have, just who’s going to spend money to remaster or clean it up? I don’t blame Olive Films for not). You do get the trailer for the film, but that’s it when it comes to extras. Fans of the film should snag it up for the right price, but just set your expectations accordingly when it comes to the presentation.