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Title: The Spoils Before Dying

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:69

“The Spoils before Dying” is actually the second “season” in the “Spoils” series from IFC comedy films. The first one being “The Spoils of Babylon” that came out a few months. Don’t worry though. Just because this may be a second “season” (more like a miniseries), each one is distinctly different from the last and needs no watching of the previous one to enjoy this particular 6 episode comedy series. Based upon the fictitious writer/playwright/director/fisherman Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell in a fat suit) and his famous muti hour series that was banned due to obscenity laws (don’t worry, that’s just part of the joke, the series is actually rather tame in the language department) and has now been finally released for the very first time. Keeping in line with the straight faced parody style of “The Spoils of Babylon”, Eric Jonrosh introduces us to his next “masterpiece” with another ridiculous melodrama. This one set down in New Orleans over a dead girl.

The plot of this ridiculous little gem is that of a jazz singer named Rock Banyon (the fantastic Michael Kenneth Williams) who is the chief suspect in a murder when his ex-girlfriend, Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph) ends up dead after talking to him not an hour before. The cops give him three days to clear his name, which sends the down and out jazz musician on a wild 72 hours with dead bodies, harassing cops, a gay socialite (played by Michael Sheen to a T), a few ex-lovers, a sly manager (Haley Joel Osment), and countless other SNL cast members from Will Ferrell’s heyday (including a small bit with Molly Shannon).

Each and every one of the six episodes is bracketed with Eric Jonrosh chewing up the scenery as only Will Ferrell can. Delighting us with stories and tall tales of how great he is, and how much he loves to eat, all the while yelling at his cameraman and slipping in cigarette advertisements before his manager shuts off the camera. Much of the fun from the show stems from the hilarity of the SNL cast members. Each one of them has their own unique style of visual humor and gets to shine at least once during the series. While most of Will Ferrell and the SNL cast’s humor is known to be over the top slapstick, they’ve dialed it back a notch. Instead focusing on very dry visual humor that requires a bit more attention to grasp instead of relying on a laugh track. Everything is straight as an arrow, without a single wink or nod to the audience, instead allowing the absurdity of the situations to speak for themselves rather than beat the audience over the head with being overtly funny.

I grew up with the old fashioned radio shows playing through my house, or those old melodrama soap operas from 60’s and 70s being played on rerun ad nauseum, so I got a HUGE kick out of all the very obvious rips and gags on those old melodramas. Every obvious sight gag in the book gets played out in picturesque film noir style, painting up the raspy voiced hero who narrates his own story, down to the gorgeous dame dead in the streets and even the fight scenes that sound like they’re out of a “Batman” TV episode. Ferrell and crew are an absolute gas to watch on set, but the real boon to the series comes from casting Michael Kenneth Williams as Rock. His portrayal of the rough and tumble jazz musician is spot on perfect, and Ferrell’s overstuffed character is hilariously funny, without being AS blatantly stupid as he has been in his feature films recently.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video :3.5stars:
“The Spoils before Dying” comes to Blu-ray from Starz/Anchor Bay on a nicely framed 2.40:1 Mpeg2 encoded transfer. The miniseries is naturally given a sort of smoky and dingy look so that the result is a fairly desaturated image that doesn’t really pop off the screen. Much of the series is set in dank, low lit nightclubs and the night time street, so there is plenty of low lighting to go around and overall detail can take a hit from that. Certain sequences have some digital noise thrown in for good measure. Still the image looks pleasing enough for the visual style that they were going for, and the artifacting is mainly kept to the digital noise and some mildly washed out black levels.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is a bit on the front heavy side, but the copious amounts of jazz music lights up the 6 channels with plenty of activity when the dialog slows down. The center channel takes the brunt of the work with nicely balanced vocals and a solid dynamic range. The surrounds get a little bit of ambient noise, such as the mumbling and rumbling of guests in a night club, or a few “action” sequences, but most of the time the jazz music is really where those rear channels get to stretch their legs and move about. LFE is nice and adds a distinct and pleasing low end to the musical accompaniments and even adds a few bits of power to a punch to the jaw or a car door slamming shut in the background.


• No Features

Overall: :3.5stars:

Just as with “The Spoils of Babylon”, “The Spoils before Dying” is a straight faced and rather absurd parody on those old melodramas that generations past would listen to on the radio or watch on TV. The huge cast list of SNL adds a fun twist to the series and each little cameo is a wink and a nod to the audience. The series is not for everyone, and really appeals to those who like their parodies with a bit more wit and a little more work needed to pull out all the jokes from the background. Stylish and extremely fun, “The Spoils before Dying” is another feather in the cap of the IFC comedy program. Definitely recommended.

Additional Information:

Starring: Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Michael Kenneth Williams
Created By: Matt Piedmont, Andrew Steele
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Mpeg2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Rated: NR
Runtime: 129 Minutes
DVD Release Date: June 7th, 2016

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