Back before streaming subscriptions, torrents, Viooz or the stripped down DVDs for Redbox, there were DVDs you could rent. If you were on the old school Netflix plan you could rent a DVD and experience the special features as well as the film itself. If you liked the whole package you could buy your own copy and, as some say, “treasure it forever.”
That’s how I’ve heard so many audio commentaries over the years. In a weird way they kind of pre-date podcasts, giving specific information most hardcore film enthusiasts love to hear. It’s like listening to a director, cast and crew critiquing their film in your living room.
For the most part commentaries are meant to be illuminating and technical. I appreciate that, but when it comes to memorable commentaries I always remember the funny ones. Off the top of my head, I found these to be the funniest.
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5) Donnie Darko (2001)
Before Richard Kelly’s Darko turned into Hot Topic fodder, it was just a film. It was released quietly and without much fanfare, and shortly after its DVD release I rented and eventually bought my own copy. The special features were hilarious (anyone who owns the DVD will know what “chocolate sprinkle donut” means) and the commentaries were no exception.
One track is most of the cast in close quarters, talking over each other. However, the other is Richard Kelly and Jake Gyllenhaal, and that’s the one to listen to. Gyllenhaal is in fine form, proving that he couldn’t be further from the character he’s playing. You’ll hear everything from him musing about Hungry Hungry Hippos to doing impressions of Christopher Walken as Frank The Bunny.
4) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
It doesn’t take much to realize that Robert Pattinson commentary is something very special. His trolling on the first Twilight commentary (“I don’t understand the physics of this car accident”) seemed to be a one-time thing, a mistake the producers decided they wouldn’t do again.
But then they did. I have no idea why. Maybe they were drunk. Pattinson and co-star Kristen Stewart did a commentary on the third Twilight movie, Eclipse, and it’s- well, Pattinsonesque. If you hate Twilight, you’ll love how much Pattinson hates it too.
Stewart remains serious for the most part, but during the engagement scene says, “This is such a stupid movie.” It’s also worth noting that there is constant arguing about girlfriends going off with other guys to cheat on them, which is some pretty terrible foreshadowing.
However, Pattinson writes off all of Stewart’s arguments when he yells, “BOOBS!”
3) UHF (1989)
If you’re looking for the most informative commentary on a “Weird Al” Yankovic movie around, then the UHF DVD is for you. Yankovic does the commentary with director Jay Levey, proceeding to call some of his co-stars and know everything about the making of the film. Apparently he never forgets addresses.
The result is very entertaining and has some interesting surprises. At one point Yankovic actually stands up in front of the screen and yells at the characters. I’ve never seen that happen during an audio commentary before or since.
2) Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
To understand how funny this commentary is- there is alcohol involved. Trey Parker, Matt Stone and the other cast members get progressively more drunk as the film goes on. At first all of them are informative, telling stories that explain details of the film you would definitely miss. You get an inside scoop on how the co-creators of South Park made their start and how they failed college to do it.
Then all of them get loopy. Then they get sad, talking about how they got dumped or cheated on by their girlfriends. Then they start physically fighting each other.
The commentary ends with all of them incoherently yelling about going to a titty bar. Then it cuts out.
1) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
This is my favorite film commentary of all time. It features writer-director Shane Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. It’s such a charming and funny experience that I’ve listened to it more than once. You get the feeling that these are guys visiting your house and you don’t want them to leave.
Kilmer constantly throws out irrelevant trivia, for example. Why? Because he’s Val Kilmer, that’s why. He’s (literally) testing you so you can win $500 off of him. This isn’t to say Downey and Black aren’t as funny, and there are plenty of times where the three of them are ribbing each other.
In short, it was great. After hearing it I went to hang out with friends and said, “When that commentary was over I felt really, really lonely. I wanted to go wherever those guys were going so I could hear more.”