“For you it’s an x-ray. For me, it’s a selfie.”
Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood is a bit of a step backward for me personally. Die-hard fans of course won’t find anything wrong with this latest release however the last one I reviewed — Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters — had much more especially in the way of special features. This one feels like a barebones release but that feeling also carries through to the special itself. It’s once again just Jeff and five of his puppets (aka “little people in the boxes”) instead of trying to deviate and give any sort of character to them outside of sidekick to Jeff or vice versa (depending on the personality in question.) It’s only a disappointment to me because I enjoyed Minding the Monsters so much due to its overwhelming creativity.
However as a stand-alone stand up special there really aren’t too many issues with Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood so I don’t want to get all the hate mail that Judge Gordon Sullivan got for daring to say anything negative about a Jeff Dunham release, okay? This is the latest of Dunham’s sets and lasts just about an hour and a quarter. Helping Jeff kill time are some of his more famous dummies…pardon me, I mean Wooden Americans. We have Walter, Bubba J, Little Jeff, Peanut, and Achmed. The set focuses on a range of topics but each character is asked about Hollywood or politics or something else that the LA-based crowd can relate to. The Dolby Theater, the location of the taping, is a missed opportunity. Home of the Oscars telecast there’s a rich history to that one event alone which is left unmined, let alone any other events the theater has hosted.
My favorite parts of the special by far are the unplanned goofs. While Dunham’s right in guessing that they may not make the TV broadcast they are quite entertaining and showcase Dunham’s sharp wit as he not only recovers but turns them into something pretty darn funny. One of the most interesting aspects of the disc is the ability to choose between an uncensored and a family-friendly version. Dunham apparently gets asked all the time about making his specials more family-friendly and thus while the ability to have the choice is not relevant for me personally I can understand it would be something fans with kids would appreciate. And it’s fairly easy for them to do since the puppets are the only ones who ever curse thus being able to dub over what they say is an easier task than replacing Dunham’s own cursing.
There is one thing which makes me hesitate in offering a recommendation and that is the exclusion of the Brad Paisley performance which aired during the broadcast of Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood. Now in full disclosure my cable company is at war with Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom so I don’t get the channel and was unable to watch. That being said while I can’t speak to the quality of the routine I have to raise an objection to its exclusion from this release. It should at least be a special feature if not part of the special’s runtime.
The technical specs are keeping in line with something currently produced within the last year or so. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks good especially considering the dark nature of the theater. The blacks neither overwhelm the space nor do the spotlights ever blow out any of the white levels and everything looks pretty crisp and clear. In terms of the audio it’s not difficult at all to understand Jeff or his companions which is a good thing considering there are no subtitles included. The Dolby Digital 5.1 does a good job and I appreciate that the mix includes the crowd’s reactions but at a background level definitely not at the forefront of the track. That space is reserved for Dunham as it should be. The technical specs are pretty clean overall.
The lone special feature is a mashup of the special lasting just over two and a half minutes. Personally I didn’t find it necessary but for those who are interested in mashups you may chuckle a bit as you watch it.
I have to give Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood a pass. Perhaps a Blu-ray release will offer more, both in terms of a complete telecast and special features. Dunham’s creativity seems to have been pulled back a bit with this disc. While the material itself overall will make you smile the release itself is lacking.