Review by Michael Jacobson
Mel Brooks, Ezio Greggio, Julie Condra, Gianfranco Barra
Director: Ezio Greggio
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Studio: Columbia/Tri Star
Features: 4 Trailers, Talent Files
Length: 85 Minutes
Release Date: September 26, 2000
Screw Loose is
never boring, but only mildly funny with one or two genuine laughs along the
way. It boasts a second pairing
between Italian comic Ezio Greggio (who also directed) and American funnyman Mel
Brooks. Greggio made an appearance
in Brooksí film Dracula:
Dead and Loving It. So
now, Mel returns the favor by starring in this little diversion of a picture,
and his presence is the filmís biggest treat.
Bernardo (Greggio) is the son of a successful but
far-too-tense dairy food producer (Barra), who collapses from a heart attack one
day while screaming at him. His
dying wish? To see the American GI
who saved his life in World War II many years ago.
That man is Jake Gordon (Brooks), and Bernardo sets off to the States to
find him and bring him to his fatherís bedside. The catch? Jake
is insane, and a long time resident of a California asylum.
Breaking Jake out is only the start of Bernardoís
troubles, especially when the eccentric war hero turns out to be a bit more than
he can handle. Heís not really
dangerous, but his inability to keep quiet when he most should, along with his
passion for living, beauty and ladies and the way he spontaneously bursts into
song and dance numbers wreak much havoc along the way.
Thrown into the mix is a beautiful doctor, Barbara (Condra), whose job
depends on her ability to catch and return Jake to the asylum, despite
Bernardoís desperate attempt to do just one thing right for his father.
Iím not very familiar with Ezio Greggio, who is a popular
comic star in his native Italy, but not yet as well known over here as his more
outrageous fellow countryman Roberto Benigni.
I liked him a lot in this film. He
plays his comedy with a good mix of enthusiasm and restraint, always trying to
maintain a sense of sanity despite the craziness he sinks further and further
into. And Mel Brooks, of course, is
a delight, and more than capable of providing the craziness to Greggioís
world! Although he doesnít seem
to appear in very many movies that he didnít write and/or direct himself, he
does come to this project strictly as an actor for hire, and his energy and
comic mania are winning and pleasing. He
doesnít seem to miss a beat at his age, singing and dancing with all the gusto
of a young man, but delivering his comedy with the precision and sharpness of a
The main problem is the script itself, which is paper thin
and more an assembly of jokes and comic situations than a story, and a good bit
of it never makes it beyond simple amusement into real laugh territory.
This film is more of a showcase for its two stars than anything else, and
these men do as well as could be asked with so little to work with.
But thereís even an inherent problem there:
the movie works best when Greggio and Brooks team up on screen. They have a good chemistry and a terrific sense of rhythm and
timing between them that helps to elevate the material.
But then, partway into the story, Brooks sets out on his own, leaving
Greggio either alone or paired with the lady doctor Condra, whoís pretty, but
rather bland. The picture therefore
SERIOUSLY loses its footing for a time, until all three are finally reunited.
I am not in least bit sorry I watched this film, and under
the right circumstances, Iíd probably do so again.
As I mentioned, itís not boring, and itís certainly pleasant enough
for one eveningís entertainment. But
itís not nearly as funny as it should have been, which is a near fatal flaw.
After all, what do we watch comedies for if not to laugh?
Granted, Screw Loose isnít
the kind of picture that will take home any awards for cinematography or art
design, but does that mean CST skimps on the transfer quality?
Never! And this disc is
about all you could ask for from a DVD viewing experience.
For starters, the images are sharp and clear from start to finish, with
no softness or lack of detail, even in the few lower lit settings.
Coloring is beautiful and natural throughout, which combines with the
sharpness for maximum quality. Even
shots in deeper focus maintain a strict sense of detail and crispness, and
indoor and outdoor shots alike render perfectly. Bleeding is non existent, as are grain, noise, shimmer or any
kind of compression artifacts, and the print itself is of first rate quality.
Bravo, Columbia/Tri Star!
This 5.1 surround track is quite good, even if the nature
of the film keeps it from being a busy one.
The music by Umbeto Smaila and Silvio Amato is particularly well
rendered, with front and back stages harnessed to create a more full and
dimensional listening environment. Apart
from that, the rear channels donít operate with much distinction, but
generally takes on some of the action from the front speakers to help balance
the overall sound. Dialogue is
clear and well recorded, and there are a few livelier moments that bring up the
dynamic range some and let the audio spill out a little more into the discreet
channels. The subwoofer is mostly
used to add bottom to the score, and it helps to accentuate the music nicely.
The disc contains trailers for this movie plus Drowning
Mona, Bossa Nova and What Planet Are
You From?, plus talent files for Messrs. Brooks and Greggio.
I was glad to see the latter, which gave me a chance to familiarize
myself a little more with the popular Italian comic star.
Screw Loose is far from a waste of time, but it doesnít quite garner the rating that a film with two talented and popular international comic stars should have earned. Iím guessing fans of either Brooks or Greggio will be pleased enough. The disc quality is certainly good enough to guarantee that at least a rental is probably worthwhile.