The Reno 911! television show remains one of my favorite original productions to come out of Comedy Central and when I heard a movie was in the works, I was moderately excited. I say “moderately” because I worried the movie, which is shot Cops style, would look odd in widescreen and, let’s face it, with higher production values.
To an extent my worry was not unsubstantiated—the film does look odd in widescreen and with cleaner video. While waiting for the Unrated version to arrive, I scoped out the “R” rated theatrical cut and ended up watching the film with directors/writers commentary in full screen and I quickly realized the movie felt more at home this way. This is purely because I’m used to watching the series in fullscreen and the widescreen presentation is a bit off putting. Still, minor aesthetics aside, the aspect ratio of the film isn’t going to hurt the enjoyment as much as poor writing.
You’d think that’d be my segue into stating that this movie was poorly written, but it’s not. No, the film retains the same level of quality as the show (and why shouldn’t it? It’s written by the creators), although there aren’t quite as many hilarious moments in the film as one would hope. The masturbation hotel sequence stands out as one of the funniest bits in the film (although Kimball is oddly absent from the mayhem), but there isn’t much else that you’ll remember from the film aside from the end credits roll (which actually makes up the majority of what we see in the trailers for the film). That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but I don’t remember much from Super Troopers either and that film is still hilarious.
As the story goes, the Reno Sherrif’s Department is called to a Cop convention in Miami, Florida. When they arrive they find that they are not in the computer and they are unable to receive their convention passes, which sends a jolt of disappointment throughout the crew. The majority end up getting drunk and pass out, meanwhile the convention goes on and a bio-terrorist threat is unleashed, forcing all of the law enforcement in Miami to be non-existent, aside from the Reno Sherriff’s Department. Reno sets out to protect the city of Miami and along the way meet up with old friends and eventually unravel the mystery of the bio-terrorist threat (it doesn’t make much sense, so don’t worry if you don’t understand it all in the end).
Having seen both versions of the film, I can safely say that there isn’t a difference between the two aside from some more breast shots (which one can assume from the topless brunette on the unrated cover [there are no topless brunettes in the movie, making the on-the-cover shot all the more curious]) and extra dialogue here and there. In fact, the run time between the two is a mere two minutes difference, so you can imagine that there isn’t anything you’re missing by not getting the unrated version, although I recommend it over the theatrical just for the better special features.
There’s nothing that will win an award in this movie and it is quite possibly a waste of time if you don’t enjoy the type of humor the Reno 911! brand so brilliantly debuted on Comedy Central years back. Despite this, the film is just fun to watch and having watched it five times now (once by itself and four times with the various commentaries over the two releases), I can say that it doesn’t get dull on repeat viewings. The only thing I noticed was the extreme lack of Deputy Kimball, who is barely seen in the film. Jones and Garcia barely show up either, although their story with Ethan the Druglord (Paul Rudd) is integral to the plot (what there is of it).
Overall Reno 911!: Miami is worth owning if you’re a fan of the show, but those unsure will want to give it a rental first. Knowing the show prior to viewing is a definite plus before watching the film, but isn’t required.
Reno 911!: Miami arrives on DVD in two variants: an “unrated” version with two extra minutes of footage in the film, while the “R” rated theatrical cut comes in a flipper disc (widescreen on one side, fullscreen on the other). While the cuts of the films are nearly identical (except for the aforementioned extra breasts), the special features on the two releases are completely different.
Box art is similar on both releases, with only those in the front being the major difference (backgrounds also vary, with the beach on the unrated and the city on the rated). As I mentioned prior, the brunette on the unrated cover doesn’t make any sense since the main woman in the film that was topless was blonde both blonde), but I suppose it mixes better with the other hair colors on the cover or something. There’s an insert with chapter and disc information for the rated version, but only an insert advertising other films in the unrated. Disc art is only given to the unrated release, as the rated version is a flipper disc. Menu art is identical on both releases, with the unrated version having an intro by Weigle, Dangle and Junior.
Video and audio on both releases are identical. Video is clean and clear and free of any artifacting or defects and the audio remains mostly front-focused, with very little, if any, sound effects or dialogue being tossed back to the rear channels. Subwoofer remains unused for the most part, except for the two big explosions in the film.
Special Features – Rated
First up in the special features review roster is the rated release. The special features are spread across both sides of the disc, with the commentary on both sides being the same. The commentary includes writer/director Ben Garant (Junior) and writers Thomas Lennon (Dangle) and Kerri Kenney-Silver (Weigle). The commentary is both informative and hilarious, as the trio collects their thoughts on the film and what it was like to film it. I tried doing other things while listening to the commentary but found it so entertaining that I was only able to open up a Word document and once the commentary was over I looked back and realized I hadn’t typed a single thing.
Moving on past the commentary is a short (under ten minute) look at the film as shown on the Fox Movie Channel. This documentary is shot with the cast in-character and is fun to watch, even if there’s not much to it. The same can be said about the extended scenes and alternate ending, which all include commentary from Garant, Lennon and Kenney-Silver as well. The remaining special features consist of only trailers.
Special Features – Unrated
So just how different are the two releases? Well after receiving the rated version initially I wasn’t too concerned. As expected, the only difference between the films was some extra skin, but when I saw the unrated version in stores and looked at the special features, I was rather shocked to see none of them were the same as the rated version. While I finished watching the rated version and thoroughly enjoyed it, I was eagerly awaiting the unrated version which sported three different commentaries, as well as six extended scenes, a short video of the world premiere of the film and some “Public Service Announcements” from the Reno Sherriff’s Department.
The first commentary, again with Garant, Lennon and Kenney-Silver, is nearly identical to the one on the rated version. They repeat themselves a lot, but there is some bits that weren’t said on the rated version. The other two commentaries is what sets this disc apart from the rated release: the two commentaries’ feature the cast in character and they’re just as entertaining as an episode of the show. The cast showcases just how good they are at improv on these commentaries, with both of the commentaries’ featuring their fair share of laughs. I enjoyed the second commentary with Garcia, Johnson, Jones and Kimball just a bit more as they weren’t featured as prominently in the film as the others and it was nice to hear what they were all doing when we weren’t seeing them on camera, even if they did just make it all up on the spot.
The extended scenes are hilarious in this release. The first four have commentary, once again with Garant, Lennon and Kenney-Silver, while the final two, running over twenty minutes each, are without commentary. The scenes range from an extended “sex” scene with Dangle and Wiegel to a full cut of the bus ride to Miami as well as a scene that was completely cut from the film, with Patton Oswalt’s character as his moms, along with Junior and Dangle. The scene runs an obnoxious 20 minutes and after the tenth minute you feel like it could end at any moment, but instead continues on for another ten. All of the extended scenes are a lot of fun to watch and would they not have been in their Miami officer outfits, I would expect them to recycle them for future use in the show.
The Fox Movie Channel “World Premiere” is up next and runs a scant six minutes, but is entertaining all the same. The public service announcements are a treat to watch as well. The only thing missing from this release is a “play all” option for the PSA’s and extended scenes—annoying having to click on each one.
Overall the two releases are both fair in their own right, but the special features on the unrated edition slaughter those on the rated release. Only the most die-hard of Reno 911! fans will need to own both releases, while the casuals can take solace in knowing that the unrated edition contains the best of what the film has to offer. Those unsure about the series or film should give it a rental before they decide to plunk down the full price for it.
Die-hard Reno 911! Fans: Highly Recommended (both releases)
Casual Reno 911! Fans: Highly Recommended (Unrated)
First-Time Viewers: Rent It (Unrated)
Reno 911!: Miami (Rated and Unrated) is now available on DVD.