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 Post subject: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 09 Jul 2021, 00:02 
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Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]

I recall my first encounter with Young Einstein back in 1988. It was a full page advert in UK teen magazine 'Look-In'. I loved the poster, thought to myself "this film stars some guy calling himself Yahoo Serious, I have to see this film". I never did. The film never played in any cinemas round my way. In fact other than in Australia, where Young Einstein was a colossal hit, the film was pretty much a flop (taking in around $11m in the USA alone) and received less than favourable reviews. I would imagine given it's poor performance that many cinemas just decided to give it a miss.

Fast forward 33 years and today I received a copy of the Japanese Laserdisc of Young Einstein. Not only that but I was finally able to watch the film. Was it worth it? Just about. Just barely.

Young Einstein takes everyone's favourite scientist and all his theories and fun and frolics, pops them in a blender and dumps the contents out in Tazmania. I think this is possibly what upset many viewers in that Einstein's story was moved away to Australia and given a comedic Aussie twist. If you've ever seen the excellent Pugwall (not forgetting Pugwall's Summer!) and Round The Twist, to name just two shows, then you may get an idea of what kind of comedy to expect here. This was made around the time when Australia and New Zealand churned out pure gold (in television and cinema terms). You had the aformentioned shows. Then you had Neighbours, Home and Away, The Young Doctors, The Sullivans, Bad Taste, Braindead, Body Melt, Back Of The Y, Heartbreak High and so much more. All being churned out of Australia and New Zealand and sold the world over and devoured by billions.

I liked that Yahoo Serious produced, starred in and directed the film. At least you got to see his vision of what the film should be and how it should be portrayed. With a project like this it could be easy for someone else to step in and chip away at the original vision. That's not to say Young Einstein is all the better for it, for it does suffer from being a bit overly bland. It sags a bit in the middle and would have benefitted from tighter editing and a slightly better supporting cast (the mum and dad were great and the girl who played Marie Curie was a great love interest, the rest were so-so).

For a film that was really trying hard for the laughs it doesn't succeed all that often. I found that where the film tried hard to knock out the gags, I wasn't really laughing. I found the more innocent humour, the incidental stuff, to be far funnier.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
There's a great scene about two thirds of the way through in a lunatic asylum where a guy is standing quite innocently in the middle of the shot. Completely nude. Just standing there scrubbing his arse with a bar of soap.
For some reason I found that absolutely side-splitting. It's odd in that for it's want to be a comedy film, it hits some rather serious notes and takes a few jibes at politics and politicians but smears the jibes with a coating of humour. The dedication to Einstein after the end credits is a nice touch too. One of the standout pieces is the soundtrack. Back in the day the film won Best Original Score at the Australian Film Institute Awards. It also won Most Performed Australasian Work for Film at the 1990 APRA Music Awards. Rightly so too. One of the standout songs for me is Great Southern Land by Icehouse which features prominently in the film. I've since added it to my Tidal library.

I feel rather mixed about Young Einstein. It's not a rip-roaring comedy success, far from it. What it is though is an interesting 90 minutes that are pleasant enough, provide a few laughs and manage to entertain. I think I do like it. I'm glad I finally got to see it and it will certainly stay in my small library of Laserdiscs.

What about the Laserdisc itself? Is it any use? Well actually yes it is. The audio mix let's the disc down a little though I think this is more down to how the sound was recorded during filming rather than the fault of the audio track on the Laserdisc. It feels a bit quiet and muted in places. I think because of how sound was recorded in certain scenes, you'll see what I mean if you ever watch the film. It's a weird one to explain.

The picture quality on the other hand is absolutely incredible, especially with the D-EXT magic that is applied by the goddess that is the R7G! I'm telling you right now, this is up there as one of the best Laserdiscs I have ever seen. The picture is vibrant (without D-EXT it is a bit washed out, but then that's the magic of the R7G goddess!) and pin sharp. This is proven especially at the beginning in the foliage outside Einstein's family home in Tazmania. Difficult scenes that are fast moving or filled with foliage do not look soft, they look razor sharp. It's all quite bizarre considring how naturally soft image quality is on a Laserdisc compared to modern formats. SFX scenes near the end of the film that are filled with strobing are also presented really well. The whole disc is just fantastic. You'll just need to crank the audio up a bit though.

Overall, if you can get hold of a copy of the disc and are curious then I strongly recommend giving it a try. The film isn't all that and the humour may well fly over a lot of heads, but I think it's worth digging out if only for the great picture quality and the excellent soundtrack.
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 09 Jul 2021, 12:27 
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I love this movie.
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 09 Jul 2021, 15:09 
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I saw this in the theatre. When I went to see Batman in the theatre that summer the program (remember those?) had an ad for it on the back and it intrigued me very much. The trailer was also on TV a lot and my 7 year old self was pumped for it. I think I may have rented it once soon after but then never saw it again until I got into LD and realized its probably on LD. While I'm glad to have it I really wish it was WS/LBX but whatever. I laughed a lot, but I was 7. When I watched it recently it held up but in a more dramatic way than humorous. Maybe it isn't great but I sure love it.

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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 09 Jul 2021, 15:27 
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sonicboom wrote:
I really wish it was WS/LBX but whatever. I laughed a lot, but I was 7. When I watched it recently it held up but in a more dramatic way than humorous. Maybe it isn't great but I sure love it.


I think that's the boon with the shady transfer DVD that's out there. It is presented in it's original aspect ratio, but the source used is apparently awful. I think the bonus of the Japan edition might be the picture quality. It really is very good. I can't remember if that was the reason to get it or not, I just remember stumbling on something not so long ago that said the Japan disc is the one to get, even though it has burned in subtitles.

I agree with you, although I never saw the film when I was young, I can imagine laughing at a lot of it as a child, but the humour now seems more dramatic? For me it was the totally off-kilter stuff, the observational comedy that split my sides. The shower scene for example. Great to see the US flyer to promote the film, is that yours or one you found online? That's a great keepsake!

Maybe it's time to start pestering Warner Bros or whoever currently owns the rights to put out a new HD master from the original camera negative. Perhaps a boutique company might pick it up? Umbrella Entertainment in New Zealand are usually good for that sort of stuff with titles in Oceania?

Oh and a bit of side trivia I didn't mention before. During (or possibly shortly after) filming Yahoo Serious and Lulu Pinkus became romantically involved and later married (I think divorced in 2007). I think Lulu Serious went on to produce more of Yahoo's films until around 2000. I think she exhibits art in Australia now?
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 09 Jul 2021, 16:55 
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teddanson wrote:
the Japan disc is the one to get, even though it has burned in subtitles.

While I don't argue that Japan LDs are a cut above US releases in general; I can't deal with burned in Japanese subtitles. Maaaaybe if they were in English and the original language is OTE (other than English). I'll even agree that the artwork is often cooler but the nostalgia of the original US art that I saw in the video store as a kid is more my speed.

teddanson wrote:
I agree with you, although I never saw the film when I was young, I can imagine laughing at a lot of it as a child, but the humour now seems more dramatic? For me it was the totally off-kilter stuff, the observational comedy that split my sides. The shower scene for example. Great to see the US flyer to promote the film, is that yours or one you found online? That's a great keepsake!


Yeah the guy making a pie of live kittens! WTF!

The pamphlet is a photo I took this morning after reading your post here. I've kept some things from that time in a Trapper Keeper folder ;) including my Turbo Grafx-16 ads and flyers.
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 10 Jul 2021, 07:06 
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Back of the Y, you mentioned.
Ted you are a very cultured man indeed. If your into fishing check out 'screaming reels' or real NZ movie 'Scarfies'
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 10 Jul 2021, 12:52 
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I bought the double DVD Back Of The Y collection many years ago. It's so funny! Randy Campbell is the greatest stuntman that ever lived!*



NSFW!














*may be a fib. :mrgreen:
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 10 Jul 2021, 13:30 
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Some people confuse Austria with Australia, that always seemed to be the primary setup of this movie to me. Now that seems thin but at the time I was really into something like that. How far can the concept go?

If the geniuses of Europe had been born Aussie the people there would put them in an institution, Yahoo seems to feel. Ernest Rutherford was from New Zealand in real life but if he was living the next island over he’d be in the crazy house.
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 13:30 
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I did some reading and it seems like this movie bombed hard enough outside of Australia to irritate everyone. Nobody likes it, terrible takes, terrible reviews…I never realized this before. I’ve always liked this movie. It goes well with UHF, Wizard of Speed and Time, Ernest, and other family friendly movies of a type that no longer exists.
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 14:18 
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Yeah I though it was horrible or bombed horribly and Yahoo only released one other film in the USA after this to try and recoup but it didn't work
either.
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 Post subject: Re: Young Einstein (1988) [NJL-11759]
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 15:03 
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rein-o wrote:
Yeah I though it was horrible or bombed horribly and Yahoo only released one other film in the USA after this to try and recoup but it didn't work
either.


Reckless Kelly was much more Australian than his first movie, probably because it didn’t get massive foreign investment and reshoots like his first movie. It’s more like…Earnest, I guess. Young Einstein is much cooler. The soundtrack is great, the visuals are great, and it has at least four good jokes.

Maybe this movie just needs to get to that point of cultural re-examining where new fans emerge and start to drive up the Tomatometer. Sometimes when a movie bombs this hard and ruins as many people’s careers as this movie probably did it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth of everyone involved for ages. People don’t even talk about the good points of it because their experiences were so bad. The movie O.C. and Stiggs comes to mind, which is disowned by everyone who worked on it, or even Ishtar, which was really just a typical lame over budget 80s action comedy. It wasn’t uniquely bad in any way.
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