The How’s Your News? team is a group of physically and/or mentally challenged reporterswho set off on a journey across the US, interviewing people on the street, at a cattle-call, onalligator farms, and so on. Though at first blush the premise might raise warning flags, not tomention the presence of Matt Stone and Trey Parker as exec-producers, but such worries (which Iconfess I shared) are unwarranted. This is a film that the reporters are proud of, and directorArthur Brad…ord, who has known his team for years, has put together a film of rare sensitivity andwarmth. The reporters bring out a very touching side of their interview subjects as well. Thehumour is never mean-spirited (and the liner notes, sensitive to viewers’ possible unease, comewith a message from the team — yes, there is funny stuff here, and yes, you should laugh).
This is another one of those discs where the act of rating the sound and picture is inherentlyunfair. Thus, the middle-of-the-road star ranking I’ve assigned should really be dismissed out ofhand as irrelevant. At any rate, the sound is, of course, dependent (for example) on the streetconditions in which the interviews were conducted. The volume level also varies enormouslyfrom feature to menu to extras. The music does have some surround presence, but again,surround is completely beside the point here. The transfer is good, and that’s what counts.
Everything I’ve said about the sound applies to the picture as well. Complaining about grainand whatnot is churlish when one is dealing with a shot-on-video documentary. So again, the starrating is irrelevant. The transfer is solid, and any picture quality issues are due to the nature of theproject, not the DVD.
Many features here, helpfully explained in the liner notes and by an introductory screen thatprecedes each extra (a very nice touch). The commentary — with the entire cast and the director –is as warm and engaging as the feature. The spotlight shines a bit more squarely on Bradford inthe Split Screen piece, “Behind the Scenes at HYN?” The original short feature that got the ballrolling is present too. The reactions to the film are chronicled by film festival footage ofscreenings and Q&As, public song performances by the team at the festivals, and a segment onthe film on NPR’s “This American Life.” There are two follow-up interviews: one with Parkerand Stone, and one (very moving) where Ron Simonsen meets hero Chad Everett in the wake ofthe soap opera star seeing the film. Finally, there’s a photo gallery. The menu is scored withsongs by the cast (a different piece for each screen).
A completely different film, and I mean that in the best sense possible.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Original Pilot
- Festival and Concert Footage
- “Behind the Scenes at HYN?”
- NPR Radio Segment
- “Ron Meets Chad”
- Interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker
- Photo Gallery