Friday, December 25, 2015

Dirty Work

Merry Christmas my dear readers! My gift to you is a blog on my all time favorite comedy film that finally came out on BluRay a few months ago with 1998’s Dirty Work (trailer). Why did it take so long to come out on BluRay you ask? In 1998 the DVD format was only a year old and Dirty Work was there with a DVD release and it became one of the very first DVDs I owned. Many film companies have put out their biggest hits on BluRay since that format arrived in 2006 and it still has a noticeable presence on retail shelves. However, the ubiquity of online streaming media like Netflix and Hulu combined with the surprising staying power of DVD sales resulted in BluRay not taking off as fast as DVDs.

BluRay still splits about 50% of home video shelf space with the aging DVD format at most retailers nearly 10 years after the debut of the BluRay. Compare that to the advent of DVDs where five years after the debut of DVDs in 2002 and the VHS format was about a year away from being gone on retail shelves all together. I am giving that little aside as a reason why some film studios are taking their time putting out their back catalog that were not originally massive hits on BluRay. This past year I finally got three of my favorite comedies in the form of The Replacements, UHF and finally here with Dirty Work making their long overdue release on BluRay.

Enough history, onto the film! Dirty Work stars Norm MacDonald as down-on-his-luck Mitch Weaver. The film opens with a nice montage of Mitch and his friend Sam (Artie Lange) growing up not taking crap from bullies and always getting the last laugh. Fast forward to the present and it is a complete 180 as Mitch just lost his girlfriend and his latest job, so he moves in with Sam and his father, Pops (Jack Warden). All is not well though as Pops has a heart attack and his doctor-turned-compulsive-gambler (Chevy Chase) reveals he needs a new heart transplant to live, and will bump him to the top of a transplant list if they give him $50,000 to pay off his bookies. So Sam & Mitch do the only reasonable thing and go back to their mischievous ways and open up a revenge-for-hire business with is aptly named Dirty Work in hopes of raising the cash.

While some of you may recognize Norm MacDonald now as the new KFC mascot and for his random live Twitter sports play-by-play tweets, back in 1998 Norm was riding high coming off a hot run on the long running Saturday Night Live satire news segment, Weekend Update. Norm added a unique twist to his take on Weekend Update by busting out a tape recorder and recording future notes to self so he can learn from the mistakes of others making headlines. Norm’s tape recorder bit was a hit with fans that it made its way into Dirty Work and plays a vital role in Norm overcoming this film’s antagonist Travis Cole, played by one Christopher McDonald who is fresh off as evil golfer Shooter McGavin from the Adam Sandler megahit, Happy Gilmore.

There are also a few other noteworthy cast members worth mentioning. Traylor Howard plays Norms love interest, Kathy. Adam Sandler, Gary Coleman, Ken Norton and John Goodman all have brief, but memorable cameos. Don Rickles and David Koechner have small roles as evil bosses early on that are on the receiving end of Mitch & Sam’s revenge business. Dirty Work also will go down as being Chris Farley’s final role (Farley is not in the official credits for reasons beyond me) as he plays a small supporting role in the film as ‘that guy’ in the bar in only a few vintage Farley-quality scenes, with his most memorable when he plays the wrong song on the jukebox in preparation for a bar fight. Finally I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Mr. Full House himself, Bob Saget took one of his few trips to the director’s chair in his career to oversee this production.

Dirty Work is about as slapstick as it gets, as you can nearly predict how the film plays out right from the beginning. The journey there is worth it however as the film is filled with countless great quotes and moments throughout. Trust me after seeing this film, you will think about used car dealerships and other films like Men in Black in a whole different light. Some of the jokes may not hit for all as the film has its fair share of dry humor moments peppered throughout, especially from Chevy Chase which I thought they were a fine balance to the many off-the-wall antics from Sam & Mitch.

MGM did nothing special for BluRay release. The original DVD release only had a trailer, and that is all we get on the BluRay. Somehow MGM found a way to take away bonus content as the original DVD menus had the Dirty Work theme in the background, and it is absent on the BluRay menu. The DVD also had a little two page insert with production notes and quotes from the cast and crew on what was the closest we got to a behind-the-scenes feature of the film, and sadly that is not included with the BluRay either. Yes, I had to be the guy who made sure to save my DVD insert and enclose it with my BluRay copy. The lack of extras is a bummer, as I imagined it could not have been that difficult to track down Norm MacDonald, Artie Lange and Bob Saget for a couple hours to record a commentary at the very least.

I am probably overhyping this film a bit by proclaiming it as one of my favorite comedies ever when I doubt this will be on many lists if you search Google for ‘best ever comedy films.’ Dirty Work came out at the right time for me, and the jokes and moments still hold up today for me. The film perfectly captures Norm MacDonald’s style of comedy he brought to SNL, and if you were a fan of that then you know what you are in for. If you were completely unfamiliar with Dirty Work before and stumble across it in the cheap movie bin or while browsing across a streaming service, I hope you give it a chance as it is a very quick watch right at an hour and a half and I guarantee it will at least get a few unconventional laughs out of you, if not many more.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

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