PicturePresented in fullscreen the film was shot on what appears to be mini DV camcorders. It was never really intended for a big screen and to be honest it shows. Picture quality is uniformly poor, with loads of picture noise, digital blocking and smearing, and often nauseating camera movements. Skin tones fluctuate throughout, and focus accuracy is haphazard at best. I would guess that a couple of different cameras were used because some of the footage is acceptable, but on a big screen most of it is a dogs dinner.
SoundPresented in stereo at 192kbps the soundtrack is as bad as the picture quality. The dialogue is often horribly compressed making the good folk of Shamrock sound like they couldn't hit a bass frequency if their lives depended on it. There is a tinny, hollow sound to dialogue shot indoors, and outdoors we are often treated to the sound of wind shear. The score is provided by The Gourds, and the second disc in this two-disc set is actually a CD of the soundtrack. They provide the aural highlight of the disc with some catchy Irish Folk/Country and Western fusion thang. The music is enjoyable in an annoying kind of way. You know the way an awful lyric will stick in your head for days....well that's what you get with this. So all together now “ I got whiskas on ma chin an' jowls”
ExtrasWell for such a tiny release you certainly can't complain at the number of “extras” that have been included on the disc. As mentioned earlier this is a two-disc set but disc two is actually a CD of the soundtrack by The Gourds - heaven help us! All the DVD extras are included on disc one and consist of three separate commentary tracks. All have Mike Woolf, the director on them with on track 1, the Hairy Outsider - Scotty, on track 2 Kevin Russell of The Gourds, and by far the funniest on track 3, Roy Wardlow. Roy is the contestant that paints his Donegal green and unwittingly provides most of the humour, my favourite Roy quote is “I've been waitin' all my workin' life to retire”. Priceless. Also include on the disc are 4 short featurettes including coverage of the Shamrock premiere, when 15 people turned up, and the more successful world premiere in Amarillo, when 600 turned up to watch the movie and listen to a concert by The Gourds - heaven help us all! The documentary short “The 72oz Steak” shows a fat American eating a Steak the size of Anglesey and winning a t-shirt proclaiming “I am a Fat American” or something like that. It is brief but still boring.
VerdictGrowin' a Beard is a strange little effort. It is touching and amusing and handles it's subject matter with warmth and affection, but at thirty minutes, even with a fair few “extras”, its value for money is seriously limited. And if I hear the music of The Gourds one more time I swear I will die. One more time “I got whiskas on ma chin an' jowls”
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