Lame Monty Python Comedy

Robert Young’s lackluster Splitting Heirs is a vehicle for its stars, some past their prime and others still getting there. A British comedy in all but name, Splitting Heirs stars Rick Moranis, Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, and two leading ladies you don’t normally associate with hammy jokes and Pythonesque bits – Barbara Hershey and a young Catherine Zeta-Jones. John Cleese delivers laughs in a limited role but his character is the only consistently funny performer in a madcap film which rarely rises above mediocre.

Two children are accidentally switched at birth, setting up the movie’s fairly tortured premise. Henry Martin (Rick Moranis) is raised in America as the 15th Duke of Bournemouth, a crass man with low-brow tastes who doesn’t fit the role’s required etiquette and sophistication. He’s a huge disappointment. The real heir is Tommy Patel (Eric Idle), raised by a poor Pakistani family in the UK.

Robert Young’s lackluster Splitting Heirs is a vehicle for its stars

When Tommy learns he’s the actual heir, a shady lawyer (John Cleese) suggests killing Henry off and coming forward as the royal heir. The haphazard mix further includes a gold-digging Catherine Zeta-Jones and Barbara Hershey as a horny Duchess from America. One of her earliest starring roles, Catherine Zeta-Jones is little more than eye candy in Splitting Heirs. The aging Hershey is actually great as an oversexed widow, a perfect foil in her role. It’s quite a surprise for the veteran actress but she has fun with it.

Splitting Heirs is a silly, wacky comedy of errors as Tommy begins spending more time with Henry and grows closer to the family. Eric Idle is credited with the screenplay but one gets the feeling most scenes were improvised. The cast has some talented actors but nothing ever really meshes for comedic greatness. Rick Moranis does everything he can but this is not one of his better films. The ‘80s star fails to inject the same energy that made appearances in Ghostbusters and other movies so memorable.

The best bits come from John Cleese and Barbara Hershey, both veteran performers clearly relishing their wacky roles. The rest feels like half-baked Monty Python courtesy of Eric Idle. It’s his film in the primary role and the movie sinks or swims based on his performance, which only occasionally works. If pithy British humor leaves you cold, Splitting Heirs is not for you.

Video

Licensed from Universal, the Hollywood studio provides distributor Mill Creek with a serviceable HD transfer with no serious processing issues. The 1.85:1 presentation has fine color rendition with a consistent contrast and crisp black levels. It’s clearly an older film transfer struck from original elements. The print exhibits a few small blemishes but is primarily free of all dust and debris.

Definition and detail surpass DVD but fall short of newer 2K and 4K scans. Considering the 1993 movie is unlikely to get another Hi-Def release, fans really can’t complain. Splitting Heirs has decidedly average picture quality for 1080P video.

The 87-minute main feature is encoded in predictable AVC on a BD-25. Grain reproduction and fine detail haven’t been filtered away but are softer than expected. Splitting Heirs generally has excellent cinematography for a low-budget comedy, mostly sharp and exuding clarity. Exteriors have actual depth and dimension.

Audio

The 2.0 DTS-HD MA stereo audio has clean dialogue and a nice enough mix for composer Michael Kamen’s score. The dialogue-driven comedy has a few louder moments despite muffled dynamics. It’s a clean recording from the early 1990s with solid musical fidelity and adequate sound design. Nothing here arises above ordinary in terms of bass or separation.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Making its worldwide debut on BD courtesy of Mill Creek, Splitting Heirs arrives with one of the label’s Retro VHS slipcovers. The back cover claims the disc is coded for Region A, though region coding for Mill Creek releases are always up in the air.

Splitting Heirs Trailer (02:04 in SD)

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Splitting Heirs
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  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

The star-driven comedy’s funniest bits are provided by John Cleese and Barbara Hershey but laughs are few in this mostly silly and lame movie.

Overall
2
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User Review
3 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 45 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: