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  • Pan&Scan
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • None

    The Man With Two Brains

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . M15+ . NTSC


    This film gave me a pleasant surprise. Steve Martin brings tremendous energy to this slapstick comedy in one of his earlier roles. Carl Reiner, director and co-writer with Steve Martin, does a good job with The Man With Two Brains; there are plenty of hilarious gags running throughout. It is the pair's second collaborative effort, the first being The Jerk. Both films have a very similar style of humour, so if you like one there is a good chance you will like the other.

    The story is a rather odd one, to say the least. Steve Martin plays Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr, the best and most respected brain surgeon in the world. His wife has passed away, and he is exceedingly lonely. When driving his car whilst being interviewed for a magazine article, he hits a woman and must perform brain surgery on her to give her a chance to survive. The woman turns out to be Dolores Benedict (Kathleen Turner), a beautiful widow. Michael falls for her, and they marry. Things turn sour for Hfuhruhurr, mostly because of the fact that he and his new bride aren’t being terribly active in the bedroom. Eventually he finds out that his wife actually only married him for his money.

    This is where he meets another brain surgeon, Dr. Necessiter (David Warner), and is introduced to some of Necessiter’s pioneering techniques. The most interesting is a procedure whereby a brain is able to be kept alive in a jar for a period of time. When examining the jars, Dr. Hfuhruhurr discovers that he can communicate telepathically with one of the brains (voiced by Sissy Spacek). He starts spending a lot of time with the brain, and he finds out that the owner was a lady named Anne Uumellmahaye. They fall in love, and Michael kicks out Dolores after she tries to murder the brain by cooking it in the oven. His relief to find the brain unharmed turns to horror when he realises that she will die soon unless transplanted to another body. He begins to search for a good body with murderous intent… will he find a body in time?

    Steve Martin’s performance is one of a very physical nature. He bounces around the set with unlimited energy, and delivers his lines with gusto. It really is a superb performance, and he generates many laughs from even the more mundane jokes. Kathleen Turner does an admirable job as the sadistic man eater, and I am sure this role helped her land the lead female spot in Romancing The Stone. David Warner is also hilarious for the most part as the nutty Dr. Necessiter.


    I wake up in a cold sweat at nights screaming, “NO! NO! NO MORE PAN & SCAN!” Pan & scan just, well… it just isn’t cricket. It seems many comedy titles these days are getting slugged with this disgusting formatting, and it’s a crying shame. A damn crying shame. The Man With Two Brains has been altered from its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 to 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. Ugh!

    Next complaint: The disc is NTSC formatted. Why, why, why, why, why, why? Australia is still a PAL region and thus the DVDs released here SHOULD BE PAL FORMATTED. Simple as that.

    To add to the annoyance of the above points, the image quality suffers from many blemishes, mostly in the form of film artefacts and bursts of grain. Throughout the whole movie film artefacts run rampant, raping and pillaging wherever they go. The film is almost 20 years old, so a few allowances have to be made, but there are many older movies with many fewer image problems than this. The bursts of grain can become irritating also.

    All that being said, the sharpness of the picture is one of its stronger points, and thus the detail is quite good. Colours are also not too bad, without being great. At times they seem to lack a little depth. Over saturation rears its ugly head now and again, however the flesh tones are for the most part spot on. Shadow detail, meanwhile, is average.

    The disc is single layered and single sided, so at least there is no layer change to contend with. There are no subtitles recorded.


    The sound transfer seems almost worse (if that’s possible) than the video. The one soundtrack available is an English Dolby Digital mono. For a 20 year old film, this mix is really quite awful. It is Mono with a capital ‘M’. The dialogue mixing is not good; the volume of the speech seems to vary a bit. Sometimes it seems very sharp and grating, and at others soft.

    The mono mic means the surrounds and subwoofer sit in a corner sulking whilst the front centre speaker does all of the work. The effects seem hollow and empty with no backup from the woofer. There are no problems with audio synch, however. Overall the sound offering here is definitely below average.


    None. Ningunos. Nessun. Keine. Aucun. Nenhuns. The term ‘bare-bones’ was created for just this type of presentation.


    The film itself is quite a hoot, but the transfer is uglier than a monkey’s butt. Steve Martin shines in this role, he is right at home in this style of humour. Stay away if you are looking for an intelligent comedy, but if you are willing to put your brain on the coat hanger as you walk in the door, then you will most probably be rewarded with a very entertaining time.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1848
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      And I quote...
    "One of Steve Martin’s earliest film roles, The Man With Two Brains has one of the most ridiculous, yet funniest plots of any movie ever created..."
    - Robert Mack
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE475
    • Speakers:
    • Centre Speaker:
    • Surrounds:
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony Active Superwoofer
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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