The Wrong Guy (1997) Blu-ray Review: The Right Release

What would happen if comedians from The Kids in the Hall, SCTV, and Mike and Molly got together with a writer from The Simpsons? Well, depending on the circumstances surrounding your first viewing of The Wrong Guy, the end-result can be seen as one of two things: a silly Canadian comedy, or a subtly brilliant neglected masterpiece. Spawned from a sketch lead performer/writer Dave Foley once wrote during his days as one of the The Kids in the Hall, the quirky farce finds Mr. Foley as a meager ‒ and startlingly naïve ‒ executive at a major city high-rise office with a bad case of oddly good fortune on his hands.

After being passed up for promotion by his employer, the very inept Nelson Hibbert (Foley) decides to confront his boss about it. Alas, he discovers the chief has been knifed in the back by a stealthy (and very limber) assassin (a part played to tongue-in-cheek perfection by the great Colm Feore, who plays the only genuinely “serious” character in the entire film). Feeling he will surely be blamed for the heinous act ‒ especially after making a huge mess at the crime scene and ensuring everyone hears his frantic wailing ‒ Nelson takes it on the lam, where he learns several very hard lessons about surviving in the rural outskirts of the big city. Even if it has only been a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, an incompetent police detective (David Anthony Higgins, Mike and Molly) pretends to search for the real killer ‒ whose likeness has been captured on surveillance footage ‒ but opts to go spend his recently-granted FBI privileges on fine dining, escorts, and Broadway shows instead. But Nelson’s useless plight into the great wilderness (well, the nearby countyside) isn’t entirely without merit. Not only does he get to engage in a very Kids in the Hall moment with his former co-star Kevin McDonald, but he also manages to meet narcoleptic country cutie Jennifer Tilly and her father, as played by SCTV‘s Joe Flaherty.

There’s also a fine cameo from the Barenaked Ladies as policemen who perform an acapella tune entitled “Gangster Girl,” as well as a marvelously hilarious reference to Bronski Beat to see and hear. Dan Redican, Alan Scarfe, and Kenneth Walsh co-star.

Written by Foley, Higgins, and Jay Kogen (The Simpsons, Frasier), The Wrong Guy makes for enjoyable dumb entertainment for those who miss the days of offbeat sketch comedy. Directed by veteran TV sitcom specialist David Steinberg ‒ who has worked with everyone from Garry Shandling to Bob Newhart to Larry David ‒ The Wrong Guy was one of many movies unceremoniously dumped to VHS and DVD in the late ’90s by Disney (under their Hollywood Pictures Home Video label) with very little ado whatsoever. Twenty years after the fact, Kino Lorber has decided to give the film the affection it deserves, releasing the title in High-Definition for the first time under their Studio Classics line.

Presented in an 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode, Kino’s transfer of The Wrong Guy feels quite right. As the low-budget movie was produced in the ’90s and shot on that now-rare “celluloid” substance, one certainly can’t expect it to look as sleek as the latest digital/CGI superhero movie. But what we do get is pretty darn perfect, and fans of the movie will certainly want to toss out their old SD-DVDs and upgrade. Aurally, The Wrong Guy features an impressive DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack, and a bonus audio commentary with David Steinberg, Dave Foley, David Higgins, and Jay Kogen is included. The film’s domestic home video trailer is also included.


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Luigi Bastardo

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