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Featured Blu-ray Review: Ladybugs

June 27th, 2010

Ladybugs - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Rodney Dangerfield was a very funny guy. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that. However, outside of a couple of films, he never really showed what he could do in movies. Ladybugs was one of his weaker efforts both critically and financially and today it is mostly forgotten. It is now making its debut on Blu-ray, so the question is, is it worth rediscovering, or is it best forgotten?

Rodney Dangerfield plays Chester Lee, a bit of a schlub, which is not a stretch for him. He's desperate for a promotion at work, because he thinks he needs that promotion before he can propose to his girlfriend, Bess. She's tired of waiting and the relationship was already complicated by her son, from a previous marriage, Matthew, who hasn't exactly warmed up to Chester. Fortunately, the promotion could be right around the corner. Unfortunately, it turns out there's a complication. His boss, Mr. Mullen, is the sponsor of a girls soccer team and his daughter, Kimberly, is on it. They need to get a new coach, and his wife insists he gets a top notch replacement. Guess who accidentally bluffs his way into the job?

Of course, Chester knows almost nothing about soccer and the team, the Ladybugs, are terrible, but he's got to find a way to make them champions or his promotion is history. He then strikes upon an idea... Matthew's a great soccer player. Yes, Matthew is also a boy, but with the right wig maybe he could pass for a girl. Matthew is at first horrified with this idea; however, one look at Kimberly and he agrees to join the team as Martha.

What follows is nearly 60 minutes of clichés. There are soccer clichés, cross-dressing clichés, underdog clichés. The writing here is incredibly lazy and that includes Rodney Dangerfield's one-liners. His specialty was one-liners, but it seems like the writers just shoved in a bunch of them without any regard how they fit with the movie as a whole. I think this is an issue with a lot of stand-up comics that try to do narrative work like this. The writers want to play to their strengths, but their style doesn't always work in a structured plot. Additionally, Dangerfield was known for more risque material, including a lot of double-ententes, but this is a family film, so these had to be toned down. Note, I said toned down, not eliminated; it's a PG-13 movie for a reason.

The movie is unoriginal, does a poor job at showcasing, Dangerfield, it's too raunchy for kids, and painfully unfunny for adults.

Additionally, there are no extras on the Blu-ray, while the video and audio presentation are middling, at best. The video is soft, the colors are muted, the dialogue is clear, but the surround sound speakers are underused.

The Verdict

Ladybugs' Blu-ray debut is utterly skippable. It's a bad movie, it doesn't look good in high definition, and there are no extras. If you are a fan of Rodney Dangerfield and want to see him in a funny movie, stick with Caddyshack, Back to School, and to a lesser extent, Easy Money. (That last movie is sometimes too raunchy for its own good.) If you want to watch one of his movies with your kids... I was going to recommend Rover Dangerfield, which is better than this movie, but it is still not out on DVD.


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