John Leguizamo's Freak
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Hilarious and high energy, Freak is Leguizamo's Emmy winning semi-falsified, one-man stand-up performance. Alternately funny, raunchy and poignant, FREAK spotlights Leguizamo's gift for storytelling as he effortlessly slips in and out of a wide range of characters from his dysfunctional childhood in Queens, New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, I hate, hate, HATE this DVD version of Freak. First off, the video quality of this DVD is terrible. It is not clear or sharp, and when there is even the slightest bit of motion on the screen, everything looks blurry and has scan-lines running through it. If you've seen Freak, you know that John's performance is pretty animated, to say the least. He moves very quickly, break-dances at times, and in general is like a fireball of energy as he moves about the stage--which means the DVD looks like CRAP about 70% of the time.
But by far and away my #1 complaint about this DVD is that it does NOT contain all of the original audio from John's performance. Some of John's speaking parts have been completely over-dubbed with re-recorded audio. It is particularly noticeable during his impressions. I can't be sure if they patched the audio with OTHER performances of Freak and it actually is John's own voice, or if they used a sound-alike voice actor. But either way, it totally sucks.
Also, all of the music that made his original performance so memorable (songs like Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", Freestyle's "Don't Stop the Rock," and Al Green's "So In Love," among others) has all been replaced by generic-sounding stock music that resembles nothing of the original songs.
Freak came out in 1998, and this DVD was not released until 2011. That is a LONG time to wait for something on DVD, which I did, for years and years. Before I purchased this DVD, my only copy was the one I had recorded on VHS off HBO back when I was in high school. I have watched my VHS tape of Freak dozens of times, so obviously I'm very familiar with what it SHOULD sound like. But when I eventually treated myself to this DVD copy, I was filled with nothing but disappointment.
He takes on his dysfunctional Colombian-Puerto-Rican family and his 1970s upbringing in Queens, New York, in a grossly exaggerated memoir that forces a viewer to wonder how many of the details are genuinely autobiographical. The answer, apparently, is that many of them are invented, but this doesn't rob the play of its power and impact. Leguizamo sells his story with total commitment and jaw-dropping energy, making us believe in the outsized personalities of every member of his crazy clan: his father, a violent drunk and philandering conman; his mother, a longsuffering drama queen; his fat little brother, a perennial scapegoat; his weird, spooky grandmothers; and his gay, deaf uncle. He adds terrific characters from his neighborhood: Black, Irish, Italian, German, Korean, Chinese, and more.
Most of the story is screamingly funny, particularly Leguizamo's reenactments of his parents' battles royale, his very raw descriptions of a quest to lose his virginity at the age of 16, and his portrayal of his uncle, whose successful effort to sneak him into "A Chorus Line" changed his life. But the story is also heart-rendingly poignant at times, as when his father is revealed to be a dishwasher instead of the headwaiter he pretends to be, or when Leguizamo is cast in his first off-off-Broadway play, "Junkie Christ," and he responds to his father's awkward congratulations by telling the old man off. I was captivated by this production, a full 90 minutes of all-consuming entertainment, and I give it my highest recommendation.