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Kids in the Hall: Tour of Duty

If you were lucky enough to see the brilliant Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall present their 2002 "Tour of Duty" show, you'll no doubt want to pick up this live taping of the event for posterity's sake. If you're just a fan of KITH, well, you're probably better off watching your well-worn videos of their TV show — this record of their much-ballyhooed reunion tour just isn't that impressive. Onstage in Vancouver, B.C. recreating sketches that were side-splittingly funny when they taped them for TV 15 years ago, the Kids seem to be having a good time — but the material is old and, to be brutally frank, the Kids are getting a little long in the tooth too. A disconcertingly plump Dave Foley can barely contain his laughter during his Simon and Hecubus sketch with a weary-looking Kevin McDonald; the "Dr. Seuss Bible" routine — one of the most hysterically funny bits of comedy ever produced for television — comes off as a mildly naughty high school talent-show skit; and while Bruce McCulloch seems to be aging the most gracefully of all the Kids, it's getting tough to accept that he's a horny teenager out for some senior lovin', even in a three-minute sketch. The only genuinely hilarious spot in the entire evening's festivities is — coincidentally? — the one bit of material that's completely fresh: Mark McKinney brings back his Head Crushing Man character and pinches the craniums of some audience members, using a hand-held video camera with the images projected behind him on a screen. It's a smart use of available technology and — aside from Foley and McDonald's frequent crack-ups — the only moments of spontaneity in the show. The DVD from WIN Media is little more than a record of the show — shot in widescreen (1:85:1) with eleven cameras, the film is well-directed and, considering they were working with existing stage lighting, it's reasonably crisp. But the videotaped segments at the beginning of the show, which could have been transferred for viewing by the home audience, are just shot as they appear on the screens over the stage. And the sound quality is uniformly awful, muddy and soft. What good is presenting audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 when it was recorded so badly in the first place? A branching feature offers the chance to see tour bus and backstage behind-the-scenes footage throughout the show; this material isn't, however, available to watch separately from the film. Also on board are two deleted sketches — one, a bit of musical beat poetry by McColloch — is actually much funnier that most of the skits in the film. All in all, Tour of Duty is for hardcore KITH fanatics only — and even they may be disappointed. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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