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Comedic masterpiece [BR review]
on 8 April 2010
You could say that I had high hopes when buying the blu ray version of Extras-The Special, as I'd previously sold my dvd copy upon hearing about its release. I wasn't disappointed in doing so.
The film was placed into the player and I was greeted with a wonderful high-def menu of Ricky wrapped in christmas lights (the same image used on the american DVD release I believe) a sternly looking Ricky illuminating seemingly in time to the now famous theme song of Cat Stephens- Tea for Tillerman.
It's really difficult to fault the story in any way, as usual Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant deliver line after line of comedic originality that's what's so sought after from the two. It's important also to note that they wrote and directed the film too.
The story follows Andy (Ricky Gervais) as he yearns for a genuine route to becoming a successful actor though is again and again plundered through the mundane routine of cheesy catchphrases and cheap and easy television that attracts in his eyes, the wrong type of followers. Stupid people. Garnering little respect and much humiliation to himself.
Though the story focuses mainly on Andy, other characters play major roles; we are treated to the quirky shenanigans of Andy's agent, Darren Lamb (Stephen Merchant) and his affectionately unintelligent assistant Barry (Shaun Williamson) who provide a lot of the more slapstick jokes throughout the story (note: the jacket incident in which Darren's struggling to get his head out of the jacket with little help from Barry who's just making matters worse by pulling more.)
The film is not entirely about the comedy as Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jenson) plays the more sombre roles (downgrading apartments,working undesirable jobs, general depression, more tension in her friendship with Andy, etc) which creates more of a well rounded drama like aspect to the film encouraging the viewer to take it a little more seriously. Quite a moving scene was Rickys tearful performance towards the end, his final breakdown so to speak. It was a wonderful insight into the dynamics of his character and lends much more credibility to himself as an actor and shows what he's really capable of in terms of performance.
Of course, like any other Extras episode, we are treated to the usual celebrity appearances. A few that stick out in mind are Gordon Ramsey (the verbal assault between himself and Andy was truly phenomenal!) and George Michael, who's seen in the gay area of the park smoking a spliff and finishing his kebab before chucking into the park bin. Gervais and Merchant's marvellous idea of celebrities playing into their own stereotypes always earns a good laugh.
It's blu ray transformation is remarkable. The 1080p HD quality is definitely noticeable and is what makes the whole purchase seem so necessary. The Extra features are of course, bountiful in true Gervais tradition featuring:
Commentary with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Extras: Your questions answered
The real Extras with Karl Pilkington
Deleted Big Brother scenes
It's disappointing that there's no new features that's exclusive to the blu ray.
Any fan of Gervais and Merchant will appreciate this latest addition into their collection. Recommended.