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With: Bill Cosby
Written by: Bill Cosby
Directed by: Bill Cosby
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 103
Date: 05/20/1983

Bill Cosby: Himself (1983)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Brain Damaged

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As a kid, the concert film Bill Cosby: Himself was one of the funniest things I'd ever experienced. As an adult, some of the humor seems a little prudish (Cosby wondering why grown-ups drink and get drunk) and some of it has dated a little; it's doubtful that the joke about four young girls conspiring to kill their brother over toilet seat issues would fly in today's PC world. But most of it still hits the mark, especially the isolated "Dentist" segment. From there, Cosby talks about the joys and pains of having children, most memorably in the "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" segment. Another hilarious segment reveals that he thought his name was Jesus Christ as a child, because of his father's constant swearing (his brother's name was "Dammit"). Cosby directs the film, using mostly static long shots and colorful light changes. Disciplined without being sentimental, it may be the great comedian's finest hour.

DVD Details: Fox has released the film on a new DVD available in both widescreen and pan-and-scan. On my copy, the printing appears on only one side of the disc -- the pan-and-scan side. So unless viewers pay careful attention and place the unlabeled side in their player, they will find themselves watching the dreaded pan-and-scan version. The widescreen version is only 1.85-to-1, though so it doesn't matter too much. The disc also comes with an amazing trailer that looks as if the Monty Python team put it together (perhaps they did -- trailers unfortunately do not have any credits on them). The movie also includes optional English or Spanish subtitles.

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