Movie Commentaries: Your Opinions and Your Picks

In this age of miracles, the DVD has allowed us to hear what the actors, producers, and directors of a movie actually think about it while we’re watching it. These commentaries can be entertaining and informative, or they can be incredibly dull and annoying. What do you think of them? What’s your favorite/least favorite ones, or which ones would you like to hear that don’t exist?
My favorite one currently is Clive Barker and Ashley Lawrence in Hellraiser** Very funny and entertaining.

Least is Barry Sonnefield in Big Trouble Dull, dull and an annoying voice, in my opinion.

Roger Ebert did one for Citizen Kane which is terrific
The cast commentaries for Fight Club and Oceans 11 are both pretty good too.
Anything Kevin Smith does is generally pretty funny.

I just watched Fight Club with the cast commentary - not great, but pretty good.

The director’s commentary on The Thomas Crown Affair was very dully delivered, with just a few interesting bits of info.

Overall I think they’re great! I love finding out about how movies are made, how specific scenes were shot, why certain decisions were made, what some of the in-jokes in the movie are. It lets you enjoy your favorite movies on a different level. And if you don’t like them, you can just turn them off.

First thing I thought of when I saw the thread was Roger Ebert and Citizen Kane. Thanks for stealing that one Sirtonyh!

The commentary for Evolution with Orlando Jones, David Duchovny and Ivan Reitman is great. Parts are funnier then the movie itself.

Spinal Tap has a great audio commentary by David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls. They explain their side of the story throughout the movie and how Marty DiBergi was a liar and he just twisted the scenes to make them look stupid. heh heh. It’s almost like watching Spinal Tap part 2.

There is a pretty good commentary on Men in Black with Tommy Lee Jones and Barry Sonnenfeld.

If you like silly movies, I bought Killer Klowns from Outer Space and it has a funny commentary by the Chiodo Brothers. All about making the film on a tight budget, mistakes, ect. It’s pretty good.

I’ll also second Fight Club and Kevin Smith movies.

Some of my favorites:

Stephen Fry and Julian Mitchell on Wilde.

Emma Thompson and the film’s producer (sorry; her name escapes me at the moment) on Sense and Sensibility.

The actor’s commentary on FOTR.

Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn on Rocky Horror. (“All of these people are dead now…”)
Ones that made me unhappy:

The commentary on Amadeus.

There were such long pauses in the commentary on Lion in Winter that, at one point, I forget I had it on.

I’m irked particularly in these two cases since I really would have loved to hear some good behind-the-scenes info on both of these films, and got so little.

I like the commentary on The Mummy even though it’s the director and producer (or was it cinematographer?). I especially like the fact that the director points out little mistakes in the movie and totally trashes the extras (one guy was so bad they put extra CGI flies on his to completely obscure the guy; another guy kept looking at the camera).

I like the cast ones better, usually, just because the directors and producers have a tendency to go off on a tangent about technical stuff that I’m not interested in, really. On the other hand, as long as no one takes the movie too seriously, they’re all good. Of course, that can be a drawback, as in Big Trouble In Little China, where Kurt Russell and John Carpenter talk about kids’ hockey for at least thirty minutes.

I agree with you about The Mummy, though, Grace. All of the commentaries on there are fun and interesting.

Seven has a great commentary with pitt, fincher and morgan freeman, and 3 more by the writers /producers etc
also the thing with john carpenter and kurt russell over the top is spot on

Roger Ebert on Dark City

Steven Sodererg and writer Scott Frank on Out of Sight

I like the Brendon Frazer commentary track on The Mummy. It’s him by himself, but it’s still remarkably funny.

And I second any commentary by Kevin Smith and others, particularly Dogma. It’s hilarious to hear everyone rip on Ben Affleck like he wasn’t even in the room. Only thing is Jay Mewes is pathetic on all of them so far. He sounds like he’s just stoned the whole time. I wonder why that is.

The ones on Star Wars suck big donkeys. They are by three different guys, not in the same room, and just pieced together. Horrible.

I’m looking forward to listening to the James Cameron track on T2:Extreme Edition but for now I’m going through it with the pop up info, which you have to be a friggin’ speed reader to keep up with.

I bought some just for the commentary, but so far all I’ve listened to is commentary by the cast on Ready To Rumble. They turned it into a game, trying to remember each other’s lines, but at some point they decided to embarrass each other (“In this scene, you’ll notice that Scott started to absent-mindedly scratch his balls on camera . . . look, there he goes!”). It almost felt like an MST3K episode.

Never watch a Mel Brooks commentary.

I recommend the following commentaries:
The screenwriter’s commentary on Gosford Park (his name is Fellowes IIRC).

The commentary on The Sweet Hereafter by the director: Atom Egoyan and the author.

Peter Jackson’s commentary (with the screenwriters) on LOTR:FOTR

Gilliam’s commentary on Brazil

Incidentally I did a similar thread a while back which has more suggestions:

Commentaries I don't like include North by Northwest by the screenwriter and Altman's commentaries on Nashville and Gosford Park (he is a great director but a bit of a bore when doing commentaries)

Excellent suggestion. the Young Frankenstein commentary is terrible.

If you can find more worthless commentaries than the ones on the FAMILY GUY box set, I’ll eat my hat. Minutes and minutes of dead air, little insight into the stories and jokes, etc. On the episode where Charles Durning guest stars as Peter’s father, no one say a word about Charles Durning!

A tremendous ball of suck.

All of the Monty Python commentaries and any commentary by Terry Gilliam are great. Most of John Carpenters are good (with the irritating and notible exception of In the Mouth of Madness which I was really looking forward to a commentary discussing the various influences on the film and I got one about lighting).

For the most part I enjoy commentaries by the director or writer or a film historian the most. I like discussion of shot composition, why this had to be done this way, what went wrong on the set and what went right. That’s the kind of thing that makes me appreciate a film more. The ones I typically hate are actor commentaries and special effects people; they rarely say anything interesting (“I really liked my co-stars on this film. And I’m not just saying that like I have about everyone on every other movie I’ve worked on.” “That’s a CGI background and despite the fact that it’s flickering in and out I don’t think you can tell.”)

I’ve found that the commentaries that were initially recorded for a laserdisk format tend to be of better quality. Perhaps it’s because laserdisk was a premium format…

I can’t believe the thread has gotten this far and no one has mentioned Spinal Tap. It also has the funniest menu of any DVD.

(Wumpus–check the fifth post :slight_smile: )

The commentary for One Hour Photo was great, especially if you might be a film student. The director Mark Romanek talked about he craft of directing: blocking, scene composition, finding the right sets, etc. Robin Williams talked about the craft of preparing for the role. Unlike a lot of commentaries, they seemed to take it seriously. I saw the movie in a whole new light.

The commentary for Comedian was by Jerry Seinfeld and another comedian (damn, I can’t remember his name) I found insightful on the life of a professional comedian, which has always been a bit mysterious and intriguing to me.