English, Spanish, German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German - Hearing Impaired
The Commitments: SE
MGM/MGM Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 113 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Musicals; if you don’t get that whole “I’ve just got to sing!” thing then they’re complete and utter shite. When it came to making The Commitments director Alan Parker was certainly no stranger to the things, having foisted both Bugsy Malone and Fame onto a world that deserved better. Luckily for us, however, even though The Commitments is a kind of musical, it’s most certainly not shite.
It will probably need no introduction, for if you’ve never had the pleasure you’re certain to have at least been bashed about the eardrums several times by the soundtrack. Still, with no introduction it will appear very much like a certain basher of the keyboard here is being somewhat slack, so here goes…
Sort of racketeer-type Dublin bloke Jimmy Rabbite is asked by a couple of mates to help them get a band together. They’re looking for direction, so the decision is made; rather than going for pompous U2-like bollocks or traditional Irish stuff, they’re going to revive soul. After all the Irish are the blacks of Europe, and Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland and so on. They get it happening, they gig a bit and they build a following, however then egos and relationships and all that human shite gets in the way and they kind of go “phut”. Roll credits.
"Say it once, say it loud; I’m black and I’m proud."
Obviously his Mam never told him the one about if the wind changes...
It’s a top, genuine, entertaining and often hilariously funny watch that more than does justice to the Roddy Doyle story it is based upon, a fact that’s all the more incredible as the majority of the main cast were unknowns at the time. Hell, save for a number of Corrs who pop up in bit parts here and there they’re still all virtually unknown today. The motley lot assembled do a more than credible, bang-up job with proceedings, adding an infectious enthusiasm and grittiness that would likely be lacking had the cast been riddled with big name, big-ego stars. Hey, whatever did happen to potato-face Andrew Strong anyway?
...but he's OUR savage.
If you’ve placed bets on this having a shite transfer then bad luck, you lose. Sure, there are some miniscule speckles popping up hither and thither, as well as the occasional small amount of grain, however there’s certainly nothing to have anybody running for whatever the visual equivalent of Clearasil is and splattering it all over their telly. It all bursts from the screen in gloriously colourful – oh bollocks, it’s set in Dublin, so it’s about as colourful as a Cure fan’s wardrobe – but it’s all nicely rendered with decent enough shadow detail, so that’s a good ting. General detail isn’t at a premium, however it’s hardly a muddy morass either, it just looks nice and comfy and all watchable like. Ultimately it came as a pleasant surprise just how well this scrubbed up, which is, of course, another good ting. Isn’t ‘ting’ a fun word? We should all drop more aitches in everyday life.
Whilst it’s all been given a Dolby Digital 5.1 sprucing up, there’s not a whole lot of surrounding goin’ on here. The subwoofwoof hardly has the biggest set of bollocks on Earth either, although they do drop a bit when the music kicks in. Still, it’s the dialogue that’s important, and this is where the mix works well, marred only somewhat slightly by the tendency of some of the cast to mumble at times and, naturally, if you’re cloth-eared when it comes to deciphering Irish accents then you’re going to be scratching your head a lot.
Rubber duckie, you're the one...
Being a musical of sorts, naturally you want the musical bits to be suitably punchy, and this they are. It’s possibly stating the bleeding obvious in saying that a whole heap of soul classics feature, but we can’t be shagged hitting the backspace key long enough to erase that so we’ll happily go with said stating of the bleeding obvious. And if we ever hear that fookin’ version of Mustang Sally again we’re gonna snot somebody…
To be honest, for something billed as a ‘Special Edition’ this particular little round shiny thing hardly comes to the party armed with enough munchies and booze to be welcomed with open arms.
Sure, there are three featurettes, however…
We’ll skip to the second one, The Making of Alan Parker’s film The Commitments for a couple of reasons. First, at 24:55 it’s the chunkiest. Featuring masses of interviews with all and sundry involved, plus the requisite film grabs, it’s worth a look as it isn’t as cheesy as these things usually tend to be. Secondly, the other two – the similarly titled The Making of The Commitments (8:03) and Alan Parker Film Biography (4:11) - are both pretty much just edited versions of the lengthier feature, with a few snippets of stuff like Fame, Bugsy Malone and Midnight Express sticky-taped on to the latter.
Otherwise there’s a music video for Treat Her Right (3:26) featuring original footage, a teaser trailer (1:42) and another trailer (2:17). All the extras are in 4:3, save for the last trailer which has been given the 1.85:1 treatment.
A rollicking good flick that manages to be musical without being naff, MGM’s marketing department deserves a good slapping for having the cheek to label this release a ‘Special Edition’, but at least it’s finally available on our shores and with mighty fine audio and video transfers to boot.
It’s so good you’ll even be able to stand hearing Mustang Sally again.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "