15 Entertaining DVD Commentaries Every Film Fan Must Listen To
Those who’ve not given up on physical media know that the most prized supplement feature of a DVD/blu-ray is the commentary track. While behind the scenes documentaries can be very interesting and gag reels hilarious, you never quite know what you’re going to get with an audio commentary track. They can be fascinating to listen to or just hilarious. It’s a unique experience, in that it’s the closest experience you can have to watching the film along with its directors, writers, or actors.
A good commentary track can elevate the experience of the film itself, whether you gain a new appreciation for the film, or learn a new factoid that changes your perception of the movie. It might even be worth revisiting a film for, just to listen to its much more entertaining audio track. Here are 15 audio commentaries that are too entertaining to pass by.
15. True Romance (Quentin Tarantino)
True Romance, directed by Tony Scott and easily his best film, has been adopted by Tarantino fans as his unofficial first film. It’s story of a movie geek who meets the love of his life at a kung fu triple feature show. He then proceeds to go on a violent adventure to escape her abusive pimp and sell some stolen cocaine.
It has one of the greatest supporting casts of all time including Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, and Gary Oldman to name a few. There’s no better date movie for a couple that are really into violent 90’s action comedies.
Tarantino’s solo commentary is his own testimony for how he wrote True Romance, his first screenplay. He explains why he didn’t direct the movie himself, how his original script was structured much more like one of his own films, and what inspired him to write the movie.
While Tarantino tends to ramble on, his knowledge of movies is unprecedented and since he’s never done a commentary on any of the films he’s personally directed, this is the best we have so far.
14. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson)
Terry Gilliam’s bizarre, ugly, and fantastically funny film about gonzo reporter, Hunter S. Thompson, is something that doesn’t come along very often; a movie that completely represents a person’s life and isn’t a biopic.
Luckily for fans of this film, and of the gonzo legend himself, he recorded a commentary track for the film before he passed away; complete with the sound of ice cubes tinkling in his whisky glass.
This commentary is only to be found on the Criterion release of the movie. Terry Gilliam provides his own track and is well worth listening to, but Thompson’s is something if you were ever skeptical about how authentic Johnny Depp’s performance is.
Thompson speaks, with help from his assistant, and discusses everything from how he feels about the film to whatever else pops into his head. He also makes time to prank call Benicio Del Toro and scream “Eeeeeeeeeee” and random intervals.
13. Fight Club (David Fincher, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton)
David Fincher has masterfully directed one great movie after another, and always treats his fans with loads of special features and commentary tracks on his films. All of which make up extremely detail orientated anecdotes about the screenplay, on-set stories, and reasons for shot compositions. While, these can be endlessly fascinating for film buffs, Fincher’s never the most lively of a hosts.
Luckily for fans of Fight Club, the blu-ray and special edition DVD comes with a track featuring actors Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Fincher, and Helena Bonham Carter. The group use the running time to dig into the philosophy discussed in the film, what it means to them, as well as a few behind the scenes stories.
Pitt is the quietest of the bunch, but produces some of the most honest and funny comments throughout. Ed Norton almost upstages Fincher with his insights on the meaning and message of the movie and the three men have plenty of witty repartee, even discussing many times the films many critics and why it wasn’t a financial success upon its release. Even if you’re mildly interested in the film, it’s a highly interesting listen.
12. Sleeping Beauty (John Lasseter, Leonard Maltin, Andreas Deja)
Sleeping Beauty is one of the more technically innovative films in the Disney animation cannon. After already bringing two princess fairy tales to the big screen (Snow White and Cinderella) Disney approached Sleeping Beauty with a completely new and unique visual style.
It was shot in Super Technirama 70 and was the last animated feature to have been completely painted by hand by the company. Though undervalued when it first came out, the film is now appreciated as a masterpiece of hand drawn animation.
This is also one of the rare times that popular film critic, Leonard Maltin who’s a proclaimed animation buff, has provided commentary for a film. Maltin’s joined by Pixar co-founder and Disney legend John Lasseter and Andreas Deja, a Disney animator during their 90’s renaissance.
The three gush over Sleeping Beauty, but have plenty of behind the scenes knowledge to keep the curious intrigued. The main pleasure from this track comes from hearing how a classic film influenced these contemporary artists.
11. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Greg Nicotero, Scott Spiegal)
The Evil Dead films are treasured by horror fans and cult enthusiasts world over. But, even serious film critics have to admit that no one was doing things with their camera like Sam Raimi was in the 1980’s. Evil Dead 2 is the best in the trilogy with some of the most surreal concepts and funniest gags of any B-movie. At times it’s almost like a gory live action Warner Bros. cartoon.
Both Raimi and actor, Campbell, have been friends for most of their lives so their chemistry and friendly stabs at each other’s egos are on point. Campbell constantly points out how the movies were specifically designed to torture him physically and emotionally and Raimi agrees whole-heartedly.
The films were made on such low budgets, but with increasing creativity and it’s fascinating listening to all the cheap tricks the team pulled to get the movie made. Aspiring or disillusioned filmmakers can find a lot of motivation even if you don’t have the genius of Greg Nicotero doing your make-up effects.
10. The Goonies (Director and Cast)
Kids in the 80’s didn’t know how lucky they had it with a string of films starring kids that never pandered to them, and were written with a snarky edge. The kids in these movies cursed, were put into constant peril, and even got to make out with a girl if they were lucky.
Films like Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, Explorers, and of course, Goonies treated young adults a little older than they actually were, creating a niche that gave kids an adventure they could call their own.
The commentary track for The Goonies is a fan’s dream come true, as all of the original cast members and the director reunited in the same room together and watched the film. This includes those who went on to become big stars like Josh Brolin and Sean Astin, and also those who faded into obscurity like Corey Feldman and Martha Plimpton.
The crew get along quite well, cheering and laughing at their favorite moments and share plenty of on set stories, as well try to not talk over one another. It’s always interesting to hear child stars regale what it was like making a movie at a young age, and this is about as eclectic of a group as you will find.
9. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola)
Hearts of Darkness, a companion piece, and one of the greatest documentaries about the making of a film ever made, details the making of Apocalypse Now and gives example of why it’s probably a bad idea to make a movie in the Amazon jungle.
As hard as the production was, the film ended up becoming a masterpiece of a war film and luckily didn’t kill director Francis Ford Coppola so he could record this commentary.
Coppola covers a lot of the same material as the documentary, but it’s nonetheless interesting. He points out where he let Martin Sheen drunkenly perform a scene and then cut his hand as well as commenting how the famous opening shot with a huge explosion in the jungle was completely unintentional.
Many directors can annoyingly lavish praise on their own films, but Coppola remains very open about his experiences and it’s a joy to hear a great filmmaker be so honest.
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