Michael Scott

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Doctor Detroit


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Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:



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Movie

Shout Factory’s “Shout Select” line has always been a soft spot for me since thy were introduced a year or so ago. Usually the films are well liked (and sometimes cult favorites) and all have been given Special Edition, or NEAR Special Edition treatment. However, I’m a bit puzzled at the inclusion of Doctor Detroit as the 45th film in the lineup, as it is a film that most comedy fans haven’t even heard of, let alone hold in high regard. It’s not that Doctor Detroit is bad, it’s just that the film is so entirely lost to time and unforgettably middle of the road that leaves me scratching my head. Dan Akroyd was on top of the world in the 80s, and even I can’t fathom why he took the lead role here. Doctor Detroit is an entertaining enough flick, but it has some serious flaws that mire it down and the walking definition of a niche film.

Fast talking, smooth as glass pimp Smooth Walker (Howard Hesseman) gets a rude awakening when he can’t cash in a debt to a bigger pimp who goes by the name of “Mom” (Kate Murtagh). Instead of just taking his lumps like a man, the weaselly little guy decides to blame the big bad “Doctor Detroit”, a man who has robbed him of his money and terrifies him beyond belief. The only thing is, Doctor Detroit doesn’t exist. Which means that Smooth Walker is forced to pawn off his working girls (one of which is a VERY young Fran Drescher) onto some hapless schmuck. This hapless schmuck turns out to be one Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd), a bumbling professor who gets enamored with the world of “entertainment” (at least that’s how Smooth Walker talks him into believing the call girls are entertainers) and gets left with 4 nubile young women after Walker ditches the business and runs from Mom.

Well, that means that Mom is going to move in on Smooth Walker’s turf and the chivalrous college professor has to step in and take on the mantle of the fictitious Doctor Detroit in order to stave off Mom’s advances on his turf. Things naturally go sideways in a hurry, and soon Clifford is forced to actually come out as Doctor Detroit, but he can’t exactly jeopardize his career, or let it be known that Doctor Detroit is a fraud. So, a little makeup, a wig, and a pimpalicious costume complete with purple and green clothing and a steel glove and out walks the biggest and baddest pimp the world has ever seen.
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Doctor Detroit is a very odd film. I can definitely tell that Aykroyd was having a blast with the role, but the movie really feels a lot like it should have been an SNL skit rather than a full blown film. When Aykroyd was in full blown costume as Doctor Detroit he’s absolutely hilarious, but the fact of the matter is that he just isn’t IN the film enough. Over 45 minutes of the 90 minute film go by before we even see the pimp in all his glory, and then he comes and goes for just a few scenes (though his debut scene is one of the most hilarious bits of the whole movie). A move which hampers the movie quite a bit when his transformation to the goofy pimp kingpin is one of the highlights of the movie. It really does feel like a character development time for Dan himself as you not only get to see Doctor Detroit, but several other personas that Clifford has to don in order to get his girls out of trouble.

Aykroyd gets a solid amount of support from the film, with a 26 year old Fran Drescher as the call girl who takes a shine to him, as well as Hessemen himself making the perfect foil for the bumbling professor. And I have no idea how they pulled it off, but the legendary James Brown makes a cameo appearance near the end of the film. The goofy characters within make the film quite a bit of fun, but despite all that talent, you can see how the wheels were spinning in the mud a bit. The jokes didn’t always land, and even though its heart is in the right place, Doctor Detroit just can’t garner enough laughs to truly be a really GOOD film. Those of us who have heard of the film are few and far betwee, which is why I tend to say that it is the definition of a niche film. Something that very few people have heard of, and even fewer still that will love it to death.




Rating:

Rated R by the MPAA




Video: :4stars:
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Being that this was from Universal Studios catalog vault before being licensed to Shout Factory, I was a bit worried about how the film would look on home video (especially with no mention of a new master and Universal’s track record of using copious amounts of DNR on their old masters). However, the film really does look quite good on Blu-ray. There is some faint signs of digital smoothing, but other than a lack of grain in some shots
Doctor Detroit is given a very punchy looking encode. The colors aren’t always bright and heavily saturated, but the garish looking costume of the good doctor himself come through amazingly bright, and the detail levels are quite revealing. Black levels show some crush, but other than that and some mild softness, I have no complaints with this encode form Shout.





Audio: :4stars:
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Shout’s DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track is a bit surprising, as I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the mono track. Even though it’s a 2.0 mono track the mix is really punchy and powerful, with lots of energy for the new wave and funk sound track. Vocals are always crisp and clear, and there is a LOT of fine details to be eeked out from the two channels. Just listen to when Clifford is trying to finagle the lawyer out of his duds, as you can hear each crinkle of the newspaper and flick of a tapping toe on the wood floors. There’s not really much bass encoded into the mix, and of course no surround usage, but the mix is really invigorating and technically about as flawless as you can get for the channels it has.









Extras: :4stars:
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Audio Commentary With Director Michael Pressman and Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball
Interview With Director Michael Pressman
"Radio Free Detroit" – Inside the Doctor Detroit Audio Press Kit, Featuring Rare and Vintage Interviews
Photo Gallery
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Radio Spots








Final Score: :3.5stars:


Doctor Detroit spends most of its 90 minute runtime dealing with Clifford and his seduction into the lifestyle of a pimp, and sadly foregoes much of the true comedic elements of the film AS the big and bad (and bumbling as well) Doctor Detroit. When the film is funny, it’s REALLY funny, but most of the time is rather flat and spends a bit too much time dealing with silly things rather than what the audience came to see. One little tidbit that I found very interesting is that of the R rating. The movie has its cadre of foul language (not that much really) and a flicker of nudity, but despite the salacious nature of the premise, most of the film really could be a PG or PG-13 film if not for some language (and a brief flash of upper nudity) that really is kind of at odds with the seemingly family friendly rest of the movie. Shout Factory’s Blu-ray is rock solid and comes with some great special features, so if you’re a fan of Doctor Detroit, then this is an excellent entry level purchase. However, for those who haven’t seen the movie, I would personally rent it before purchasing.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Fran Drescher, T.K. Carter
Directed by: Michael Pressman
Written by: Bruce Jay Friedman, Carl Gottlieb
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English
Studio: Shout Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 24th, 2018






Recommendation: Rental

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Wow, I haven't even thought of this movie in ages. Will have to check it out.
 

Michael Scott

Moderator / Reviewer
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haha! that's what I said when I saw the press release. I haven't seen this since VHS days
 
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