HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Achmed Saves America
HTS Overall Score:69
Jeff Dunham has made great strides in his career and is by far one of my favorite comedians in the last few years as well. Back in 2009 he was declared the highest paid comedian in the world, raking in an incredible 22.5 million dollars. Back then he was on top of the world after he had unveiled Achmed the dead terrorist as his newest ventriloquist dummy. With hit after comedy central hit he was America’s highest rated comedian. Unfortunately, he had some family problems and his comedy took a turn for the bitter with his 2011 special “Controlled Chaos”, there he kind of took a slight nose dive and his show was panned by critics. After a few year break from the specials lineup he was back with “Minding the Monsters” and his demeanor had taken a much needed 180 back to cheerfulville. Sadly he wasn’t back up at the top of the charts with “Minding the monsters” and his having to scrape by on a MEASLY 19 million dollars per year (end sarcasm). To go along with his specials we had the short lived “Jeff Dunham show”, which wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but mildly entertaining comedy. Now we have a comedy central animated special that spelled danger from the get go. Achmed is animated……hmmmmm, I can live with that…It’s on a Friday night, at 10 p.m……..ok, tha’s not sounding good….aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it’s going to be filled with social and political satire………oh boy..
The special starts out with Achmed telling Jeff Dunham that his favorite animated characters are Tigger and Eeyore, which gives Jeff just the instigation he needs to call in Tinkerbubba and turn Achmed into an animated character, just like Tigger and Eeyore, for Jeff’s new comedy special. Now we rewind a few years to when Achmed was still alive and up to no good. As clumsy as he is stupid, Achmed accidentally blows himself up and is transported to America by a bald eagle (I’m already asking for my money back). There he is mistaken for a French foreign exchange student, Claude (yes, for we all know Turban wearing skeletons are French), by the Wilson family, who immediately take him back to their humble home in Americaville (yes yes I know, I winced too). Disguising himself as Claude, Achmed makes grandiose plans to redeem himself from his accidental explosion. Fashioning a bomb out of dynamite and a propane tank, he gets ready to blow up the whole town at their 100th Anniversary that week. Unbeknownst to Achmed, the town is really using the celebration to welcome “Claude” to America. Touched by their kindness, Achmed has a change of heart and decides to save the day by defusing the bomb. Whew, that was tough to get through, but it was harmless enough. WHAT?! This is only the 30 minute mark?! Ok Mike, you can do this. Breathe in, breathe out.
With Achmed’s grand gesture on national news, Achmed’s boss Hassan comes to America to punish the double crossing skeleton. Once there and revealing Achmed’s identity as a terrorist the Hassan’s plan backfires as the entire country turns against not only Achmed, but Hassan as well. To make matters worse the Wilson’s are taken into custody by the federal government and being sent to Guantanamo prison. Not willing to let his adoptive family go to prison, Achmed convinces Hassan to help him break the Wilson’s free and prove their innocence.
I hate to say it, but this was the worst 60 minutes I’ve had all week, including my visit to the Dr. I LOVE Jeff Dunham, and I mean really LOVE his stand up. Bubba J, Peanut, Walter, Achmed, the whole works. I mean who DOESN’T like to hear Achmed terrorize the audience and make fun of guitar guy!? I have each and every one of his specials sitting on my shelf and I truly hesitate to actually put this disc on my shelf in fear that it would sully the collection just by its very presence. You may say “Don’t Judge a book by its cover” and that’s very true, but sometimes the book really IS as bad as the cover. “Achmed Saves America” looked bad enough from the cover, but I HAD to check it out. I mean, it’s Jeff Dunham for crying out loud! It seems that this time we’ve really been bitten, as Jeff writes the most ham fisted and cheesy screenplay that I’ve seen him do yet. The social and political satire MIGHT have been funny to some, but it comes across with such saccharine sweetness and tries to pound it over your head with subtext that says “you got it? Right?”, that I sat there in stunned disbelief the entire 61 minutes. What HAPPENED? Is the only thought that comes to mind. The man is a genius at ventriloquism and has made an incredible career out of combining that with comedy, as great as the late Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy if I do say so myself. But here, the train jumped the rails. Unfunny, cheaply written, and nauseatingly cliché, “Achmed Saves America” is something I wish I hadn’t seen. Or put it this way. I’m glad I through myself in front of the train so you guys don’t have to see it. There were a couple times I actually chuckled and there’s a joke about Obama Care that really had me bust up once, but the rest of the time I sat there looking at the clock wondering when I could be free.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15089[/img]Now, the movie may be pretty lackluster, but I can’t say the same for the 1.78:1 AVC encode that Paramount Pictures gives us today. The image is crystal clear with the very simplistic Flash animation style. The lines are as smooth as silk with no jaggies or haloing to be seen. The color palette is rather unique with different levels of primary’s and faded primaries (fading done stylistically) to make up the schema and a weird mix of Black and pale grey lines for the edging. Detail is very nice, and gives as much as the simplistic animation style will allow. The only slight issue is the bane of most animated films, and that is the inclusion of color banding. It’s never very noticeable, but it is there if you really look for it. Still, I must say it’s a very well done encode and should be considering the short runtime.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15090[/img]The audio is definitely a big jump above Jeff’s other specials, being that he’s not on stage we have a full Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track to enjoy and one that really opens up the sound field. As you can guess, the film is pretty front heavy with the voices doing most of the heavy lifting. Those voices are always crystal clear and do a great job of staying centered up front. The year speakers do kick on quite bit with ambient noises of cars, barking dogs, and the occasional bomb going off, but the real use for them is when the musical numbers sound off and the entire stage is filled. LFE is solid, but nothing to write home about, giving a little bit of extra “oomph” to the mostly dialogue driven film. Solid, but not spectacular it does an excellent job with the limited scope it’s in.
• The Making of "Achmed Saves America"
• Audio Commentary with Jeff Dunham and "Friends"
Run, just run I say. Save yourself the pain and suffering from this video. Jeff is a talented comedian, and for those of you who really like him, it’s a sad day to see this type of cheap comedy come from him. The only saving graces are the technical specs of the disc which sports very good video and some solid audio as well. The special features are lackluster, but that’s pretty common in most new releases I’ve noticed. NOT recommended
Starring: Jeff Dunham, Susan Egan, Amanda Troop
Directed by: Frank Marino
Written by: Jeff Dunham
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: TrueHD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 61 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Buy Achmed Saves America Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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