Best Defense

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

1984, the year of the Olympics in which Mary Lou Retton gave us a moment we’ll never forget. George Orwell was wrong in the sense that we weren’t controlled by big brother (that would be another seven years when Microsoft got big) and Ronald Reagan would be elected for another four years, thus giving us the full effect of “Reaganomics”. But the mid-80’s were a rise for a lot of young comic talent as well, such as Eddie Murphy whose star isn’t quite as bright as it was then, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Murphy had just come off his stint on Saturday Night Live (still a very active training ground for wannabe comics to become movie stars) and with the success of “Trading Places” and “48 Hours”, Paramount signed Murphy to a deal. Now the better part of that deal was that he would appear in “Beverly Hills Cop”, one of the highest grossing movies of the year and the decade. The downfall of that is that he would appear in this – “Best Defense”. It seemed simple enough, put two comics together (and despite what people say, Dudley Moore was funny) and let the money role in. Well, that wasn’t the case and what we’re left with is this kind of funny, dated movie with two funny guys in it. Make sense?

In any case, “Best Defense” seems like it starts off on the wrong foot. Let me say that they did everything to bill this as an “Eddie Murphy Movie”, but it’s Moore’s show and Murphy has far less scenes than we might expect. The movie is almost like two movies in one, with neither plot making that much sense. Murphy plays Army Lieutenant T.M. Landry, whose job is to test the new “super tank” in a mid-eastern country (some things never change, I suppose). He fails and with the tank and its’ 20 million moving parts, things go from bad to worse. Conversely, Wylie Cooper (Dudley Moore) is the brain behind the tank and it seems that he can’t even make toys for his child that work. His wife (Kate Capshaw), caring to the end, doesn’t really know what she sees in him. Cooper then meets another man in a bar who is also *gasp* working on a tank. The plans to this tank are on a disc, which conveniently get switched and all hell breaks loose. With a good supporting cast including Kate Capshaw, George Dzundza and David Paymer, it’s hard to imagine that this movie is as bad as it really was and is. However, time doesn’t heal all wounds and this one should be best left on the shelf. Put it this way, it is ranked as one of the Top 100 “worst” movies by the fans at the Internet Movie Database. Now if that doesn’t tell you something, then I don’t know what does.

Video: How does it look?

Presented in a new anamorphic transfer, “Best Defense” looks surprisingly good. The 1.85:1 image is clean and clear throughout, though some of the scenes do appear to be a bit “fuzzy”. This is as a result of the picture though, and no fault of the DVD transfer. The print used obviously wasn’t the best and as a result there are some scenes in which edge enhancement is a bit of a problem, but it’s not too distracting and the moments in question come and go very quickly. The palette is very soft and natural, and the colors are reflected in this transfer. Overall, for a movie that’s now twenty years old, this looks great. More and more with new digital transfers, we can finally see movies how they were meant to be seen and in some cases, they look better at home than they did in the movie theater.

Audio: How does it sound?

“Best Defense”, unlike so many other Paramount catalog titles, has not been re-mastered for Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. For a comedy that’s a couple of decades old, the original mix does serve its purpose, though. Dialogue is clean, free of any problems that might have crept up during the ages and though only one channel is used, it manages to convey what’s going on screen in a relatively good manner. Since there’s no surround effects to speak of or LFE for that matter, you need not worry with these during the course of the film. As per usual, the mono mix does what it’s supposed to and nothing more.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Nothing. No commentary with Murphy or anything…

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