Don’t Be a Menace: Collector’s Series

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Ashtray (Shawn Wayans) spent his childhood days in the hood, but he grew up with his mother in a safer, more relaxed environment. But now he is headed back to the ghetto, where he meets his father, who is younger than he is and rekindles old friendships. The hood is more dangerous than ever, with gang violence, rampant drugs, and a general sense of hopelessness. All of his friends have been through violent encounters and carry guns all the time. Some have dreams that extend beyond the hood, but few will ever have the chance to see those plans to fruition. Ashtray begins to adapt however, meeting all the strange people around him, including a mean as a rattlesnake grandmother who rolls strapped. Will Ashtray fall into the same ghetto woes as his friends, or can he overcome his surroundings?

The success of films such as Boyz N The Hood and Menace 2 Society spawned a wave of urban youth films that still has ripples. Of course, a lot of those movies lacked the social vision of the two films I mentioned, so it wasn’t like a renaissance of African American cinema. As with all things that experience boom periods, from sci/fi to westerns, the urban youth film was bound to be spoofed. Mel Brooks never stepped up to the plate, so instead, the Wayans stood in. Shawn and Marlon wrote and starred in Don’t Be a Menace, while older brother Keenan Ivory served as a producer. The result is much like the Scary Movie series, some hilarious moments surrounded by small laughs. The more urban youth films you’ve seen, the better, as you’ll get more of the jokes, but Don’t Be a Menace doesn’t shy away from more general topics. Miramax’s new Collector’s Series has a couple of extras and a new transfer, but that might not be enough to make fans shell out the cash a second time. As far as the unrated version, I couldn’t tell what had been added back in. In the end, I recommend the movie as a rental, but only diehard fans will want to own both versions.

Video: How does it look?

Don’t Be a Menace is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The previous edition was standard letterbox, so the new anamorphic treatment is quite welcome. The result is impressive, as we have a very sharp and quite refined visual presence. This is a vast improvement over the prior disc, which was probably a rehash of the laserdisc’s presentation. This time around, the colors are more vivid and the image just seems so much clearer, fans are going to be pleased. A lot of times, these revisited titles are saddled with the same old transfers, but not in this case.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is by technical standards a surround option, but if you expect much out of the rear channels, you’ll be quite disappointed. But that isn’t bad in this case, as we still have a solid soundtrack that suits the material, which is really what matters. This is a movie based in the hood, so of course there is a rap driven musical soundtrack, which sounds good here. The bass is deep and thumps often, so the music is well handled. No worries in terms of dialogue either, as vocals never wane in the least. Not the kind of track you’ll remember, but a decent one and that’s all this movie needs. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a deleted scene, as well as two promotional featurettes. For a Collector’s Series release, the extras are unimpressive.

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