"Totally Awesome" is the first post-"Chappelle" effort for "Chappelle Show" co-creator Neal Brennan. The movie (made in the '80's and never released, according to the introduction by Ben Stein) focuses on Lori (Dominique Swain) and her brother Charlie (Mikey Day), whose parents move them to California from Pittsburg, much to their dismay.
Within a few moments, Charlie finds out that he's been voted the least popular girl in school and Lori finds that dancing has been outlawed because the school kids got a bit too "foot loose" (har, har) a few years prior - school dances are now called "stand arounds". Charlie falls for the popular girl, Kimberly (Brittany Daniel), but her boyfriend Kipp (Joey Kern) stands in the way. Of course, there's also the unpopular girl who's really "the one." While Charlie finds a mentor in Yamagashi (James Hong) to teach him how to win Kimberly, Lori finds a dance teacher in Gabriel (Chris Kattan, making Jimmy Fallon look funny in comparison - and that's no easy task), the school janitor.
"Totally Awesome" has some serious issues, but one of the biggest is that Swain is definitely not suited for comedy - her over-the-top performance is painful to watch at times. She's clearly trying to channel Anna Faris, the actress from the "Scary Movie" series, but it's an embarassing effort. Daniel has the whole "popular girl from an '80's flick" down well and Day isn't bad, but the material rarely brings the funny. 80's movies were terrible, but co-writers Brennan and Michael Schur don't cleverly parody them, instead often simply redoing them worse than the originals. In a couple of instances, Ben Stein re-appears in a little box on-screen to literally explain the references, in case we didn't get them. It's a terrible choice: If you did get the reference, the detailed explanation has just drained all the humor out of the bit. If you didn't, the explanation isn't funny, anyway.
"Totally Awesome" clearly wants to be a "Scary Movie" for 80's films, but the film has limited success blending the references to the films together in a cohesive (or funny) way. The "Karate Kid" bits have their moments and there's a supercomputer joke (Charlie and Lori's younger brother is a child genius) that's not bad, but most of the references are simply referenced (such as the random and brief "Teen Wolf" and "Soul Man" references) before moving on.
Overall, "Totally Awesome" is, unfortunately, just totally average. While Brennan manages a decent bit on occasion, this is a disappointing follow-up to his work on "Chappelle's Show". This is the Unrated edition, and the only difference appears to be a brief bit of female nudity within the first few minutes.
VIDEO: "Totally Awesome" is totally presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by Paramount. The film's flat visuals are presented fairly well on this transfer, which remains consistently crisp, if never crystal clear. Some minor artifacting and edge enhancement are occasionally visible, but the movie (which I'm guessing was shot on digital video) looked clean. Colors generally appeared crisp and fairly well-saturated.
SOUND: "Totally Awesome" offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. The audio remains front-heavy throughout, with the surrounds very rarely getting put to any noticable use. Audio quality is about what you'd expect from a movie that appears to have been destined for TV from the get-go: clear dialogue, but effects and music don't sound particularly dynamic or full.
EXTRAS: Commentary from writer/director Neal Brennan and actor Tracy Morgan, deleted scenes, bloopers and outtakes, Tracy Morgan ad libs, "Joey Kern is Kipp Vanderhoff" featurette and "Kipp Vanderhoff: A Nightmare of Condescending Laughter" featurette.
Final Thoughts: "Totally Awesome" gets the look kinda right and some of the actors get the feel right, but the material really struggles to find anything clever or funny to say about these films. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a nice set of supplements. Fans of 80's films may want to try this one out as a rental, but I'd advise going in with low expectations.
The Film C-