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Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed Blu-ray Review

Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed (2014) Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Obsessed: Jim Gaffigan
Special & Blu-ray Details

Original Airdate: April 27, 2014 / Running Time: 70 Minutes (Extended) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

Writers: Jim Gaffigan, Jeannie Gaffigan / Director: Jay Chapman / Executive Producers: Jim Gaffigan, Jeannie Noth Gaffigan, Alex Murray, Brian Volk-Weiss,

1.78:1 Widescreen / Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned
Blu-ray Release Date: April 29, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($16.99 SRP), Amazon Instant Video, MP3 and CD ($9.00 SRP)

Buy Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video MP3 CD

A comment from The Wall Street Journal on the rear cover of Obsessed proclaims Jim Gaffigan the "King of Clean Comedy." It's a designation that initially struck me as strange since I've never thought Gaffigan's material as being "clean."
I guess it is, but it's a distinction we shouldn't need. Gaffigan's comedy isn't dark or edgy, but that isn't what stands out about it. The most important thing is that it's funny. Like Bill Cosby and Sinbad, Gaffigan's stand-up act makes me laugh without giving any real thought to the facts that it requires no Mature Audiences advisory and is basically fine for kids and young teens who aren't opposed to an entertainment world that's mostly off-limits to them.

Premiering on Comedy Central on April 27th and hitting DVD and Blu-ray two days later in a substantially extended form, Obsessed is Gaffigan's fourth solo special, following 2006's Beyond the Pale, 2009's King Baby, and 2012's Mr. Universe. Even if you're not familiar with any of those, you've probably encountered Gaffigan in one of his many film and television appearances, including "That '70s Show", TBS' "My Boys", NBC's "Ed", Super Troopers, and 17 Again.

Per usual, Jim Gaffigan talks about food in his 2014 stand-up special "Obsessed."

Observational comedy is a fixture in stand-up, but Gaffigan elevates it to an art form. He jokes about real things in his life: his pale skin, the five young children he and his wife have, and the many foods that contribute to his doughy physique. Gaffigan has amused extensively with food comedy in the recent past and it's again the driving force of Obsessed. There's no fatigue or reaching. One senses that Gaffigan could do nothing but food bits and entertain thoroughly.

The topic produces many of the highlights of this hour-long special which runs 70 minutes here (about 27 minutes longer than it will on cable). He jokes about how Southern food makes people of the South move slower, how "fried bread" by any other name is delicious, why artists painted fruit and not donuts, how vegetable platters are one of life's saddest things, and how kale is a scam he's not falling for. There's also commentary on the Whole Foods business model, a long rant on how shellfish are basically bugs (he's not a seafood guy), and an amusing discourse on the origin of fortune cookies and how they show the Chinese have yet to master dessert.

The title logo for "Obsessed: Jim Gaffigan" is placed over a Boston highway.

Gaffigan branches out from food to make funny observations on weddings and their strange customs, baths, body wash and other forms of soap, how people are like cats, the awkwardness of a man shopping in Victoria's Secret, bathroom attendants, how bars are like nurseries, and cancer. None of it is groundbreaking material entirely different from stuff other comedians have weighed in on, but Gaffigan is endlessly entertaining. His lazy, big-eating persona seems completely sincere,
his perspectives fairly original, and his presentation effortlessly endearing. He shares writing credit for the special with his wife, who he mentions repeatedly and never in a disparaging way. He's a family man whose sharp sense of humor hasn't been dulled at all by the brood of little ones he's raising. The comedy isn't parent-oriented or self-absorbed. It just offers a good-natured, extremely witty way of looking at modern life and behaviors. Other comics have covered similar ground, but doubtfully with anywhere near the same level of success.

A polished pro, Gaffigan doesn't seem to be challenging himself to stay family-friendly. He just happens not to wade into his industry's prevailing playbook of dark, desensitized, profanity-laden bits. The edgiest things we get are some drug references and a comparison of hot dogs to strippers ("I don't need the backstory"). Even people extremely funny in movie and television roles tend to occasionally be somewhat abrasive in stand-up. Gaffigan is the opposite; not one of his dozens of film and TV credits has approached the highs of his eminently watchable/listenable stand-up material. For Gaffigan to maintain his charm while offering more of the same is no small feat. It makes me wish there were others who shared his tastes and sensibilities, although that would diminish one's appreciation for him.

Taped at Boston's Wilbur Theatre seemingly this past January, Obsessed finds the 47-year-old Indiana native dressed in jeans, red shoes, and a pair of dark casual shirts. There are few shots of responsive crowd members (most of them couples and young-ish white women), who sit in relative darkness in front of the black and blue set. Gaffigan's transitions from one topic to the next are just about always seamless and fluid, as are the few aptly-timed callbacks. The easily-offended high-pitched audience member voice he used as a running device on past specials has been retired, but Gaffigan has nearly as much success with a tough New York guy accent he summons on occasion.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Stand-up comedy generally doesn't offer surprises in the video or audio departments and Obsessed is no exception. The 1.78:1 picture is fine. It's sharp, clean, and shows Gaffigan's skin with proper paleness. For audio, you can choose between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the default former and found its presentation of Gaffigan's monologues and the natural crowd response perfectly adequate. English subtitles are kindly included for the hearing- or language-impaired. The special probably isn't advertised as being uncensored because it just so happens that nary a bad word is uttered.

Smoke rises on the animated intro to the Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed Blu-ray's menu, showing more of Gaffigan's bare chest than the cover art.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Disappointingly given the special's value and surprising given Comedy Central's practices, the Blu-ray doesn't include a single bonus feature.

The menu animates a different portion of the cover art. You can't set bookmarks, but unfinished playback is resumed, while chapter stops are numerous and clearly-titled enough to make revisiting your favorite bit easy.

The eco-friendly keepcase is not joined by insert or slipcover, but it does at least extend a color disc label, a step many studios, including Paramount's main branch, are forgoing these days.

Jim Gaffigan sports black shirts, blue jeans, and red shoes against a black and blue set.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Jim Gaffigan's Obsessed is the rare comedy special I can recommend without reservation. Comedy Central's Blu-ray offers nothing more than the extended version of the special presented with the highest quality picture and sound available in one's home. That might not sound like much for the $20 sale price (especially since Gaffigan's previous special was a $5 download), but these 70 minutes had me laughing more often and heartily than anything else I've watched in recent memory.

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Reviewed April 12, 2014.



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