Dvd Commentary Tracks as Good or Better Than the Movies Themselves
Even in this streaming era, I still buy DVDs and Blu-rays - and sometimes I don't even watch the movie. I just watch the "extras" and listen to the commentary track. Here are some of my favorites.
- •Total Recall (1990)This one has received a lot of attention, because there's a very funny YouTube video that cuts the entire two-hour commentary down to five hilarious minutes. Arnold Schwarzenegger is way overly literal in mindlessly describing every action that takes place onscreen. But my favorite part - that's not in the YouTube video - is how he keeps responding to director Paul Verhoeven with a gleeful, "TOE-tah-lee."
- •This Is Spinal Tap (1984)Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer do the whole commentary in character as the members of Spinal Tap - looking back on their "documentary," 20 years later. And they hate it. The entire track is fucking hilarious, and really is like a whole second movie.
- •The Limey (1999)A great commentary for anyone who wants to write for Hollywood. Screenwriter Lem Dobbs sits down with director Steven Soderbergh. Dobbs basically spends the entire time attacking Soderbergh for "ruining" his script. At first, you're like, "Good for you, writer, taking down the big-shot director!" But by the time Dobbs complains that a character is no longer a "true Dobbs-ian" hero, you see his self-importance and rigidity in the face of Soderbergh's Zen calm. A fascinating, honest piece.
- •The Sweetest Thing (2002)Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair discuss their "gross-out" romantic comedy. Blair is as loopy as I've ever heard anyone on a commentary track. I don't know what was going on with her, but the track repeatedly drops out when she starts talking, as chunks of her gossipy anecdotes were apparently "redacted." She's very "Old Hollywood"-style out to lunch, and it rocks.
- •To Be or Not To Be (1942)This might be my all-time favorite movie, so I'm biased. Film historian David Kalat delivers an in-depth, informative, movie-nerd commentary. What makes it so special is that he uses the whole thing to propose an incredible thesis: Vulgar comedy is the only true antidote to fascism. He builds and builds on this theory, until his powerful, climactic summation - which made me want to stand and cheer, and made me proud to write dick jokes for a living. Kalat 4 Life!
- •Dolemite (1974)Rudy Ray Moore, the star of this notorious blaxploitation film, announces at the top that he is excited to provide a commentary for "the new mode of digital video disc." Then he's silent for about an hour. I don't know if he fell asleep, or just wasn't aware that you're supposed to talk during a commentary track. But either way, it's great.
- •Vampyres (1974)This is a pretty bad British lesbian vampire movie, starring a woman named Anulka. My friend Joe and I quoted the commentary all the time. The director, Jose Ramon Larraz, is a subdued guy with a thick Spanish accent. He calmly discusses what type of film stock was used, why he chose some particular lighting... and then whenever Anulka appears onscreen nude, Larraz erupts: "OH MY GOD, ANULKA'S POO-SEE!!!" This happens about 20 times during the commentary, and Joe and I died laughing each time.
- •Christmas Evil (1980)An awesome movie about a killer Santa (there are no bad movies about killer Santas). John Waters is the world's biggest "Christmas Evil" fan, and he recorded a spectacular commentary for the Blu-ray. Among other factoids, he reveals that Brandon Maggart -- who plays the killer -- is Fiona Apple's Dad! True story!
- •The Lord of The Rings (2001, 2002, & 2003)Suggested by @nc17
- •AnchormanEven funnier than the movie. Nonstop comedy and I don't think they mentioned what was happening in the movie even once. Plus, the real Bob Goulet.Suggested by @hollisbrown