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Big Stan (2007)

HBO Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/24/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/25/2009

I don't think that in any universe Rob Schneider could be considered a movie star, but it's undeniable that between 1999 and 2002 he had a string of hits. Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Animal, and The Hot Chick were all stupid movies, but they made money (especially Deuce Bigalow). (He was big enough to be spoofed on South Park with my favorite line being "Rob Schneider is The Stapler".) However, 2005's Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo wasn't hit and Schneider went back to small roles in films by his buddy Adam Sandler. But, it's still somewhat surprising that Schneider would star in a movie which was shot in 2006 that went straight to video in 2009. That doesn't bode well for Big Stan.

Schneider stars in Big Stan as Stan Minton, a crooked real-estate developer who is arrested and charged with fraud. He is sentenced to three years in prison. Stan is terrified of being raped in prison, so he turns to The Master (David Carradine) for help. The Master teaches Stan how to fight, defend himself, and intimidate others. Despite the fact that Stan is attempting to have a positive attitude about his impending incarceration, his wife, Mindy (Jennifer Morrison), can't take the pressure. When Stan finally goes to prison, he finds himself surrounded by the various groups and gangs, all of whom he fears. With the help of his cell-mate, Shorts (Henry Gibson), Stan sets out to be the baddest man in the prison yard.

Schneider appeared in Adam Sandler's 2005 remake of The Longest Yard and perhaps that gave him the motivation to make his own prison film, as he serves as Director and Producer on Big Stan. And apparently he felt that The Longest Yard wasn't quite disappointing enough for the audience, so he decided to make a movie which was even worse.

As hinted at above, it's never a good sign when a movie sits on the shelf, and Big Stan is bad from the get-go. The movie simply starts with Stan being arrested and the exact nature of the "fraud" charges are never explained. From there, the movie devolves into a long series of prison rape jokes and montage scenes of Stan training with The Master. Once Stan arrives at the prison, the film turns into a spoof of every prison movie, some of which reminded me of The Shawshank Redemption, as we get the stereotypical crooked warden. The bottom line is that although the movie is 109 minutes long, there is essentially no story here and no originality. It doesn't try to differentiate itself from any other prison film (despite the fact that Rob Schneider is the cell block bully) and The Master character reminded me of James Hong's Snotty character from Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. When you're ripping off Revenge of the Nerds II something has gone horribly wrong.

Rob Schneider can certainly be annoying, but he has been funny in other things, and given that the movie was written by Josh Lieb, an award-winning member of the writing team for The Daily Show, the movie has to at least be a little humorous, right? Wrong. I didn't laugh once during this incredibly long movie. I don't know, maybe I just wasn't in the mood for joke-after-joke about prison rape. (And hopefully, I'll never be in that mood.) The movie wants to be edgy and shocking, but it never gets beyond tedious and tacky. Of course, the main joke here is that Rob Schneider is a tough guy, but this is never truly played for laughs, as Schneider takes this all too seriously. The movie takes any great strides to lampoon prison life, and the jokes about racists and homosexuals fall flat.

Whenever a movie which has been M.I.A. suddenly appears, I always give it the benefit of the doubt, but there's nothing to like about Big Stan. The movie is boorish and incredibly unfunny from start to finish and it doesn't seem to care about the fact that most audience members will hate every minute. Something tells me that Big Stan was released from movie prison, but that it escaped.

Big Stan goes behind bars on DVD courtesy of HBO Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, although it does show some slight grain. There are no defects from the source material. I did note obvious horizontal lines on some objects in the background. The colors are good, but the image is a tad dark. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track provides good stereo which shows notable separation, especially during the prison crowd scenes. The in-film music sounds fine. However, this mix doesn't deliver much in the way of surround sound, and what we do get is mainly musical cues.

The Big Stan DVD contains only a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Rob Schneider, and actors Buddy Lewis and Salvator Xuereb. This is an OK talk as the three joke around and watch the movie. Schneider attempts to give us info on locations and actors, but there are also a lot of silent sections. "Comedy is Pain: The Making of Big Stan" (30 minutes) is a surprisingly in-depth look at the film's production. The piece clearly wants to clear the air from the get-go as it opens by documenting the fact that Schneider had to be hospitalized due to heat exhaustion during filming. From there, we get an extensive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie, with a great deal of on-set footage and comments from the cast and filmmakers. From the special effects makeup to the fight choreography to the characters, this featurette contains a good deal of information. "Odds & Ends: Hilarious Outtakes from the Cast & Crew" is a 4-minute blooper reel.

HBO Home Entertainment has also brought Big Stan to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, especially bright reds and oranges. The image is never too dark or bright. For a forgotten comedy, the picture brings us a nice amount of depth and detail. The Disc has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.4 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The most noticeable thing here is how the bass is much more prevalent than on the DVD. The subwoofer really gets a work out from the music. The stereo effects are good, most notably after Stan's first fight, where we can hear comments from both sides. However, the surround isn't very good here either, as it's mostly music and very subtle sound effects.

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are identical to those found on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long