Terry (Martin Lawrence) is a little down. He's broke. Beyond broke. His car only drives in reverse, and the phone company is hounding him to pay his bills before the service is shut off. Luckily, it appears his fortunes are turning around. This budding comedian has a gig at one of the most famous comedy clubs in the area, Dukie's, and even that gig is suspect since he's been fooling around with Dukie's wife. Meanwhile, Dukie's (an attempt at emulating the Apollo in Harlem) features a variety of stereotypical comedians including an "angry black man," a "back-to-Africa" comedian, a "smart-and-sassy" woman, and Terry's "obsessed-with-genitalia" comedian. If you watch Comedy Central's stand up for more than 3 hours, you'll see all of these represented. Dukie himself (portrayed by a shining beacon of humor, John Witherspoon) is a sex crazed old man who is so incompetent that he can't even run his own club. "Talkin' Dirty After Dark" is supposed to be a raucous look at the behind the scenes at a hot comedy club while featuring some of the eras funniest up-and-coming comics.
But it fails. Miserably. About the only portions of the film I found remotely humorous were those scenes featuring the comedians doing their bits. Unfortunately, however, those portions of the film are edited down to a bare nub, so little that you'll catch better chunks on Premium Blend on Comedy Central. The only portion of the film I found myself guffawing at featured one of the worst performances in the film, that of the Chef. His Cab Calloway-style performance is really, really funny, if only for it's large quota of flippant obscenities. The remainder of the film found me staring blankly, often drawing a quizzical stitch to my brow in an attempt to discern why this "comedy" was featuring so many plain boring gags.
The ultimate problem with this film is its utter lack of style. It's drab, dull and unfunny. The main plot of the story is a fractured mess featuring four major storylines that rarely converge and are uninteresting. The only redeeming moments of this film are the sections featuring up-and-coming comedians like Lawrence, Rodney Winfield, and Mark Curry. These segments feature the performers in their element, in front of a live, receptive crowd who feed their energy. Otherwise, the actors seem to meander through the film without ever developing a rounded character, and the movie suffers for it. The actors sleepwalk performances, as though they are afraid to go over-the-top, while pulling themselves so far back as to become mundane and uninteresting. The movie doesn't really build to anything, blowing its major premise of Terry (Martin) taking the stage immediately, and knocking the crowd dead with his routine. After that, the film just ambles along, looking for a point.
It is a shame, too, since the same crew who created the television show "Martin," which featured an over-the-top cast who weren't afraid to let it all hang out, also created this mess which is raucous comedy, ultralite. Director Topper Carew hasn't done anything in the director's chair since 1991's "Talkin' Dirty After Dark," and I for one am quite happy. His static camera work is reminiscent of Kevin Smith, lacking the witty dialogue (though the performances of the actors are on par.) It just seems as if they were given the script and never worked out exactly how the film would work, but just assumed the gags they had written in would move the story along. Unfortunately that does not happen, and what we're left with is a piece of cinema history… Proof that Martin Lawrence was once a struggling actor who didn't play the "I'm Black and out of place" role with every film. I would say this film is just barely worthy of a place on TBS or some other cable network, since editing out the obscenities would remove about a half of the film.
Presented in Full Frame and Widescreen, "Talkin' Dirty After Dark" has never looked better. Literally, since this is the first time the film has ever been seen in Widescreen since it's theatrical presentation, and I will be happy to give it points for that fact. There are a few spots of grain to be found on the print, and the entire film has a dark, smoky feel to it, but overall the movie looks just like one would expect an early 90s comedy to look. All the hallmarks of New Line's "Friday" are here, though this print doesn't look nearly as good, perhaps due to age. Colors, which consist mainly of browns and blacks, (a poor choice by the production designer, if I may say so) look good, if a touch murky.
If a company like Warner Bros. feels the need to remix a film into a 5.1 soundtrack, all I ask is that you make good use of that mix and activate the rear channels and push my woofer once or twice. As it is now, even in crowd-heavy scenes where a mix of applause and laughter could fill the room. As it is, the DVD only utilizes the front three channels and accurately represents the dialogue-based comedy in such a way as to remind you of the source limitations. The voices sound canned, the laughter off-kilter, as though the sound were recorded to a Marconi cylinder and filtered through a noise-suppression utility.
As for extra features, this disc is fairly limited, featuring a host of trailers for other WB and New Line films. Firstly, there is a 1:43 R-Rated trailer for "Talkin' Dirty After Dark," which makes sense since there wasn't more than a minute or two where there wasn't a profanity from which to cull stock for the trailer. The trailer honestly and level-handedly sells the film on hand.
Additionally, in the All-Access Pass section of the disc, there are a variety of other trailers for films available on DVD, including "All About The Benjamins," "Rush Hour 2," "A Thin Line Between Love And Hate" and "Above The Rim."
I have found a number of reviews online for the film "Talkin' Dirty After Dark," all of them speaking of the film in the niche-cult review terms that one will find attached to high-quality slop like "UHF." And I wouldn't even classify this film with that Absurdist masterpiece. This DVD excellently represents a film which has its moments, but is either too over-the-top or reserved as to miss the middle ground of believability and thus identification and a certain level of humor. Rent it for the gags, but I would pass on a blind purchase.