Plot: What’s it about?
When looking back at the films of 1990, I’m sure that this won’t be at the top of anyone’s list. I vaguely remember seeing Andrew “The Dice Man” Clay on the Arsenio Hall show, pouring his heart out about his new film. Clay was one of the most controversial people on the planet at the time and was even banned from MTV for life after some shenanigans he pulled. Those who weren’t familiar with the comic might not know and/or realize that he actually took his stage name from a character he played in a little-known film from the mid-80’s entitled Making the Grade. He played a character called “The Diceman” and from there, I guess, the rest was history. Flash forward a quarter of a century and we don’t see or hear a lot from the guy anymore, save for an appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice and a family impressive supporting role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. But this was it, this was the guy in his prime. How’s it hold up one quarter of a century later?
Clay plays the title character of Ford Fairlane a “rock n’ roll” detective that specializes in, you guessed it, the music industry. However when singer Bobby Black (Vince Neil) collapses and dies at a concert, the scales of justice must be balanced. Ford is hired on by an old friend and deejay, Johnny (Gilbert Godfried) to find his missing daughter/groupie Zuzu Petals (Maddie Corman). As it turns out, Zuzu is more of a central figure than Ford originally thinks and when Colleen (Priscilla Presley) enters the picture, Ford starts to connect the dots. Together with trusty assistant, Jazz (Lauren Holly), the duo get involved with some unmentionables led by a hitman, Smiley (Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund). Ford realizes he could be fighting a losing battle, but with finances dwindling and a friend’s daughter on the line – can he afford not to solve the case?
As I said at the beginning of this review, this isn’t the best movie in the world. In fact, there are a lot of bits from Clay’s stand up act in the movie. Still, it’s one of my guilty pleasures and I couldn’t help but giggle at some of the dated antics. That and, come on, how many movies star Wayne Newton as the antagonist? The movie did show that Clay actually had some talent and wasn’t just a foul-mouthed, one dimensional comic. Director Renny Harlin, best-known for some other 90’s films like Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea, did a fine job with the cast of characters here. No, the movie won’t challenge your intellect, but if you’re looking for a flash back to the good ‘ol days of 1990, this is a piece of movie history…sort of.
Video: How’s it look?
I remember seeing this movie in the theaters, then on VHS and later even on LaserDisc (though, if memory serves, it was full-frame) and then finally on DVD. After a long wait, the movie has now arrived on Blu-ray and I was anxious to see how this has aged. Anchor Bay has presented this in a 2.35:1 AVC HD image that’s actually not bad looking. There are several instances of some grain and dirt on the print – nothing too bad, but noticeable. Detail has been enhanced and this is back in the day when both Andrew Dice Clay and Ed O’Neill had much more hair. But I do remember being very attracted to Lauren Holly and her fiery red hair certainly looks the part. Black levels and contrast are fairly consistent, though a few errors persist. All in all it’s an improvement over the previously-released DVD, but nothing that will blow your mind (and I’m not sure it was meant to).
Audio: How’s it sound?
Thanks to a new Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, this is by far the best the movie has sounded. Granted it’s not something that’ll blow the roof off the place, but the movie contains a nice, jazzy mix with a few elements of ambiance thrown in for good measure. Vocals are lacking any distortion, you can hear every wisecrack by Ford as well as some of the little nuances in between (Gilbert Godfried’s scene is memorable to say the least). It’s bumped up a notch from the previous mix on the DVD and certainly an improvement. A nice effort.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Sadly, no supplemental features have been included – not even a trailer.
The Bottom Line
Admittedly, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane isn’t the best movie out there. But for many, myself included, it’s a guilty pleasure. The film wasn’t the critical or commercial success that Andrew “Dice” Clay thought it would be, but it serves as a time stamp for an era gone by. Those who have seen it know what to expect and the Blu-ray offers up above average A/V specs. The lack of supplements might deter any but the most die-hard of fans, however.