• Divorced Dad (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: June 25th, 2019.
    Director: Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Adam Brooks
    Cast: Gilles Degagne, Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney
    Year: 2018
    Purchase From Amazon

    Divorced Dad – Movie Review:

    This 2018 project from Canadian collective Astron-6 stars Matthew Kennedy as a middle-aged, recently divorced dad who decides to launch a public access show in hopes of helping himself get over the stress and related issues that can come from a marriage gone bad. The premise is a simple one – throughout the seven episodes included here, Divorced Dad and his pal Gilles (Gilles Degagne) come up with a topic of the week only to have said topic essentially implode on them one way or another, sending said episode into utter chaos.

    Originally launched as a YouTube show, the series only lasted five episodes before it got pulled after the debut of the ‘My Sis’ episode. Why? Because in this episode ‘my sis’ becomes confused with Isis and Divorced Dad unwittingly turns his show into a recruitment video for the Islamic State. Is this in bad taste? Yeah, probably, but it’s also ridiculously funny (and in no way whatsoever legitimately promoting terrorism of any kind). It’s odd that there’s plenty of much more legitimately dangerous content on YouTube at any given moment of any given day than this episode, but it proved to be enough that the site gave the show the axe.

    The episode that got them kicked off of YouTube is one of the highlights, for sure, but there are other reason to want to check it out – the Home Improvements episode is a brilliant poke at Tim Allen’s work and the episode where Gilles decides he’s going to take over and become an actor playing Treasure Man, a ridiculous Indiana Jones type bit, is worth its weight in gold. And anytime Gilles fires up one of his Man 2 Man segments – where he rather intensely interviews another man about… manly stuff… it’s hard not to laugh at it all. There are also some great Divorced Dad style tips on how to keep your mate happy and… just flat out keep your mate and how to keep yourself in peak physical condition!

    Having been a divorced dad at one point in my life, I can appreciate the sentiment and the humor behind this. When you start over in life, things get rocky and you don’t always know where you’re going or what you’re doing. This definitely comes across in Kennedy’s legitimately brilliant portrayal of the titular character, but of course things are taken to fairly insane extremes here. His take on DD is spot on – he’s always got the best intentions but occasionally lets his emotions get the best of him and is prone to goofing up. Gilles Degagne is every bit as good and as the co-host, occasionally steals the show. Astron-6 fans will also appreciate cameos from Adam Brooks and Conor Sweeney, both of whom appeared in Father’s Day and Manborg.

    At roughly seven to nine minutes per episode, the material is savvy enough to not outstay its welcome. The low-fi nature of the show is generally pretty effective in the way that most of Astron-6’s material is – it looks like a crummy, low budget public access show captured on tape. This lends itself pretty well to the series’ wonky vibe. The Blu-ray collection includes the five episodes that were originally shown on YouTube in addition to two that never aired and are seen here for the first time.

    Divorced Dad – Blu-ray Review:

    Divorced Dad is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. While going with a 1.33.1 option probably would have made the look of the show more convincing in a ‘vintage public access’ sort of way, there are otherwise no issues here. The material is not meant to look great, it’s supposed to look like older, tape sourced content – which it does. But the disc handles this material well, it’s free of compression artifacts and detail is about as good as you can realistically expect it to be.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, which comes with optional subtitles in English only, is on par with the video in that it’s meant to be intentionally degraded in spots but it suits the content well enough. There are a couple of spots where the levels intentionally spike for comedic effect and occasionally some garbled sounding dialogue but it’s all part of the bit.

    There are audio commentary tracks provided for each episode on the disc with Conor Sweeny, Matt Kennedy and Gilles Degagne – they talk about where the ideas for the show came from, the decision to shoot this as a cable access style show, developing the characters to the point where they exist on the show, where the ideas for some of the gags came from, the choice to have Gilles deadpan the entire series and what kind of guy they think Gilles really is in and out of the show, some of the editing choices that are used in the episodes, how and why they did the Home Improvements episode as an attempt to pay their respect to Tim Allen (who is not dead), and, of course, the whole incident that they ran into with YouTube and the ‘My Sis’ episode that got the show booted from the platform. At one point during the recording, Conor’s dad, Gord, comes in to tell the guys that they’re going to eat. There’s a lot of goofiness in here and a lot of joking around but there’s also some good information in here as well.

    The disc also contains a selection of alternate and deleted footage from the following episodes:

    Dale: Extended Scenes (4:01)
    Fruits Of My Labor: Extended Sceens (3:37)
    Fitness: Extended Scenes (2:08)
    Thoughts With Gilles (1:33)
    Treasure Man (3:35)

    Also on hand are two Merry Christmas From Santa Claus messages, each running just under two-minutes. These are petty nuts, featuring a terrible Santa framed in Christmas lights offering up a seasonal message to all the good people out there.

    Last but not least, the disc also includes Chowboys: An American Folktale the final film from Astron-6. In this nine-minute short, we see what happens with a trio of cowboys get lost in the northern woods during a shockingly cold winter on Christmas Eve. They sit around a camp fire trying to keep warm, entertaining themselves by telling stories and in doing so, reveal some increasingly strange things until, well… we won’t spoilt it but it’s pretty great, simultaneously shocking and hilarious the way the best of Astron-6’s work is.

    Divorced Dad – The Final Word:

    Divorced Dad is genuinely funny, unique and creative stuff. Kino’s Blu-ray release collects all of the material from the show, including the unseen episodes, and presents it in nice shape with a pretty solid array of bonus features to accompany it. Astron-6’s material may not be for everyone, but for those who have come to appreciate their quirky output, this release comes highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Divorced Dad Blu-ray screen caps!