Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and Tom Green were not the original Jackasses. Years before they made it big, there was one Canadian legend named Ralph Zavadil who was known as Cap'n Video, who pioneered those laughable and dangerous home-grown stunts that have been a staple in the comedy genre for years now. Luckily for everyone, director Jay Cheel made a documentary called Beauty Day, which focuses on this man that not only shows his archival footage of danger but catches up with Ralph in the present-day as he reveals his life's turmoil along with a new anniversary special of the same show that made him famous. With good video and audio presentations and some must-see bonus features, this release comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The comedy realm added another room to its sanctum in the '90s with a different kind of comic relief that centered on a reality-based gimmick that had comedians and stunt-people performing outlandish pranks and stunts for laughs. MTV was ahead of the curve on this highway by airing the likes of Johnny Knoxville and his Jackass crew along with Tom Green and his antics towards his friends, parents, and strangers on the street. But before those two giant franchises took flight, there was a Canadian guy named Ralph Zavadil who had a public access cable show where he performed insane stunts of him getting hurt for his local neighborhood. This prototype of a man is the godfather of these impractical stunts and paved the way for the future stars in Jackass and Tom Green. Filmmaker Jay Cheel has perfectly captured the man, the myth, the legend - Ralph Zavadil in this 2011 documentary Beauty Day that reveals not only Zavadil's previous episodes and stunts but also the troubled and charming man behind those dangerous antics in 2011. The results are thrilling, heart-warming, and most of all - highly entertaining.
My best friend filmmaker Jay Cheel (Cursed Films) has conjured up an impressive story of the man behind the stunt facade in his later life at giving one last hurrah as the Cap'n in a new anniversary special of his hilarious tv show. Mixed with some downright hilarious footage of Ralph putting himself in harm's way on a consistent basis, Cheel captures the turbulent real-life of Ralph as the man sits down and discusses his family, show decisions, and what ultimately lead to his cancellation in 1995. One thing for sure is made clear, Ralph knew how to have a good time and make people laugh and feel good about themselves. And even though he didn't have the camaraderie of friends by his side like the Jackass crew, it felt like he had the whole world with him when he was performing his daring stunts and pranks.
Beauty Day starts out with the one video that shot Ralph to the spotlight where he climbed a 20-foot ladder and tried to jump into his covered swimming pool as a fun way to remove the pool cover in the summertime. The stunt went horribly wrong and Ralph ended up breaking his neck and almost drowning. From here, the 2011 Ralph sits down and discusses how he formed his television show, and his fanbase, and was injured. But Beauty Day also navigates Ralph's personal life which isn't all cotton candy and roses. Topics of dealing drugs to make ends meet, his alcoholism and never meeting his daughter until she was much older become the focus here. Additionally, the one spot that got Ralph canceled was an Easter Day stunt that featured live dogs and rabbits, which caused a lot of backlash and is still a sore subject with the daredevil.
With all this turmoil though, Ralph Zavadil is a brilliant guy with many ideas and doesn't seem to let the hard times get in his way. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body as his family and daughter like to claim. His charm is infectious and wildly entertaining, which makes it easy to root for the guy. Just like watching Tom Green and Johnny Knoxville destroy their bodies for laughs on the big screen, Ralph Zavadil was the godfather of it all who's motto was to have a beautiful day and have fun while doing so. His message echoes loudly throughout this great documentary, where it's easy to see why the great gang of Letterkenny constantly yell, YEW! Beauty Day is a fine example of a documentary done right with a fascinating subject that will have its audience smiling at the end, while allowing a great message to spread from the very song that says, "when you get knocked down - you gotta get back up."
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Beauty Day jumps its way to Blu-ray courtesy of Circle Collective. The one disc is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case with no cardboard sleeve. If you order from Vinegar Syndrome you pick up their exclusive slipcover. The cover artwork is reversible as well that features two different amazing pieces of artwork. One focuses on Ralph with his iconic hard hat on, while the other side features several versions of the daredevil in various poses.
Beauty Days comes with a 1080p HD transfer that has various modes of clarity. The vintage home-shot footage from the '80s and '90s is grainy, soft, and not sharp at all, due to its source material. TV clips, home video footage, and archival news programs all have the necessary dings and grain that come with it.
The new footage though is sharp and vivid, exuding a great amount of detail in the talking head interviews that reveal individual hairs, scars, facial stubble, and pores nicely. The color palette is natural in the 2011 footage as well, boasting great earthy tones and primary colors. For a documentary that mixes new and vintage footage, this looks great.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix which sounds great in its limits for being a documentary. This is a front-heavy track with some heft in certain moments. The hefty low end of bass comes to life when a chainsaw is turned on, a vehicle engine is revving, or a music cue sounds off. Other than that, this is all dialogue, which is clean, clear, and easy to follow, even with some of the crashes and bangs that happen in the stunts.
There are about 95 minutes of extras here, including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, clips from the original series, and the Birthday show.
Jay Cheel's Beauty Day documentary is indeed a beautiful thing. The mix of the archival footage along with the complex web of emotions and life issues with its subject Ralph Zavadil is captivating and heartfelt. Most of all, it's a ton of fun and a well-made documentary. The video and audio elements are both great within their documentary realm, and the bonus features are all fantastic and worth the time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!