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Spencer's Gifts

Cinematic Crosstalk

Outtakes or the "blooper reel" have become near ubiquitous among the '"extras" included on super-collectable-widescreen-director's-shaken-not-stirred edition DVDs. Once compiled for the entertainment of cast and crew at the end of a long shoot, then displayed during the closing credits of action pictures -- and memorably lampooned in the credits of several Pixar films -- these sequences have become less and less "spontaneous" as everyone involved has gotten into the habit of anticipating their use in the DVD.

Now, I confess that I look at bloopers and outtakes whenever they are available on a disc that we happen to be watching of a Saturday night -- the selection included on the DVD release of Pirates of the Caribbean is about the most amusing I've seen recently -- but on reflection these sequences wear very thin very fast. Why? Because there are really only a handful of possible types of bloopers, and all one can do is recycle this film's particular variant on themes we've seen in every other film's leftovers:

-- someone flubs a line, repeatedly;
-- someone flubs a line repeatedly, then curses;
-- someone drops an important prop;
-- a prop is dropped on someone;
-- actor A causes actor B to break up with laughter;
-- a beautiful actress is caught in a coarse moment (e.g., belching);
-- a physically imposing actor trips over his own feet;
-- people and things collide, usually in the vicinity of the groin;
-- and so on.

Some films, it seems obvious, would not benefit from the circulation of such a reel. The more "serious" the film, the less likely we are to see the outtakes, even though a serious film is just as likely as a flippant one to produce amusing candid moments on the set. Consider, then, this item from the online journal the New Pantagruel, providing a preview of the blooper reel from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.


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