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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Exporting Raymond

August 1st, 2011

Exporting Raymond - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Exporting Raymond is a documentary look at the process of translating the TV sitcom giant, Everybody Loves Raymond, for Russia audiences. Since Everybody Loves Raymond was such a popular show, a lot of people thought this movie would do well in theaters. It was booked into 13 theaters for its opening weekend, which is a huge number for this genre. However, it didn't open well and quickly faded from theaters. Was the crossover appeal for the show and the genre too small? Or was there something else at play here?

The Movie

Phil Rosenthal helped create Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran for nine seasons starting in 1996. For much of that time, it was one of the biggest hits on TV, drawing in millions of fans and winning countless awards. More recently he was approached by the studio to go to Russia to look at how American sitcoms are translated for a Russian audience as research for a fictional movie. Not only did he think that was a great idea, he thought it would make a compelling documentary. So he was sent to Russia to help the producers with the new version of the show. But before he goes, he is told he should get K&R insurance. That's "Kidnap and Ransom" insurance. Something tells me there will be slightly more than a minor culture clash here.

There's a lot of culture clash in the film, but the film also deals with the very specific culture of Russian TV, which actually has a lot in common with American TV. I was reminded of a story Kevin Smith told about the creation of Clerks. The network claimed they would be the perfect fit for the show, but it wasn't till after all the contracts were signed that they realized Jay and Silent Bob were drug dealers in the movie. Of course, the network made them change that part for the TV series. How can you claim the show is the perfect fit for the network, and then ask for such a major change to two of the main characters? It's the same way with Everybody Loves Raymond, which isn't the perfect fit for Russian culture, but any changes proposed to make it fit made Phil Rosenthal more than a little defensive. He gets quite uptight at times. One of the producers, Katya Marakulina, said it best, "I think he should relax." 'The actors are too young. Too good looking. They dress too fancy.' He really is like the character of Raymond sometimes.

It is very likely that this film will appeal to fans of Everybody Loves Raymond, but it would help if you are also a fan of the behind-the-scenes of the TV industry and / or culture clash comedy. If you are a fan of all three, you will probably love this movie. If you thought Everybody Loves Raymond wasn't too your particular taste, Phil Rosenthal might get on your nerves before you hit the halfway mark.

The Extras

Extras start with an audio commentary track with Phil Rosenthal. It is quite energetic for a solo track, and it balances the information and the entertainment well. Next up are nine deleted scenes with a total running time of 11 minutes. The coolest special feature on the DVD are two episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, plus the same two episode as done by Everybody Loves Kostya, so you can compare the different approaches to roughly the same material. Finally there's an installment of Old Jews Telling Jokes.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare. On the one hand, this isn't the type of movie you need to see in High Definition to enjoy. On the other hand, it only costs 20% more, so it is hard to complain about the price.

The Verdict

The crossover appeal between documentaries and Everybody Loves Raymond might be a little small, which could explain why Exporting Raymond struggled to find an audience theatrically. If you are a fan of both, then the DVD or the Blu-ray are worth picking up.

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