Director: Steve Byrne
Cast: Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Moffat, Cedric the Entertainer
Release Date: December 15, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
In THE OPENING ACT, Will Chu is stuck in a thankless job while trying to pursue his true passion in life, becoming a stand-up comedian. When he gets the opportunity he’s been waiting for, the emcee slot on the road opening for his hero Billy G., the realities of life on the stage come crashing in. Between relentless hecklers, drunk comedy groupies and hard-to-impress morning radio DJs, things get off to a rough start. Even if he can learn from his idols and overcome the challenges, he’ll have to prove he has what it takes to make his dream a reality.
Please Note: RLJE Films provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘The Opening Act’ accompanies hopeful stand-up comedian Will Chu who has only ever wanted to be a professional comic. After years of struggling to get time on open mic nights and other low end gigs so to speak he’s presented with an opportunity to emcee at a respected comedy club, a gig with the potential to finally get his foot in the door if he plays his cards right and can hold his own with the respected comics he’s introducing and sharing the stage with, including his idol Billy G who just happens to headlining the lineup. Now Will must push beyond his own misgivings and fear and give the job his all in the hopes of it finally leading to a real career in comedy, but actually doing just that may be even harder than he imagined.
Written and directed by comedian Steve Byrne (TV’s Sullivan and Son) who does a great job at the helm of ‘The Opening Act’ using his real life experience within the comedy world in to create something quite special here. The film also benefits from the well selected cast (which is also largely comprised of comedic talent) which includes Jimmy O. Yang (TV’s Silicon Valley), Alex Moffat (Saturday Night Live), Cedric the Entertainer (TV’s The Neighborhood), Neal Brennan (Capone), Bill Burr (The King of Staten Island), Whitney Cummings (The Wedding Ringer), Jermaine Fowler (Buffaloed), Ken Jeong (My Spy), Russell Peters (Ripped), Debby Ryan (Life of the Party), Roy Wood Jr. (TV’s The Daily Show) and more, with most offering capable and fitting performances in each of their respective roles for the most part, especially lead Jimmy O. Yang who delivers a relatable and touching performance that makes the character incredibly easy to root for every step of the way.
‘The Opening Act’ is a fun, fast paced, frequently hilarious and surprisingly touching look at one man’s struggle to realize his dream and all of the hurdles and complications that accompany it, not to mention a learning curve and some rough moments sure to arise along the way. It’s a smart, at times silly and at others heartfelt exploration of the world of standup and all of the trials and tribulations required to even stand a chance at getting your foot in the door. It benefits immensely from the guidance of comedian Steve Byrne who we can only assume has integrated plenty of personal experiences within to one degree or another and his firsthand knowledge of the comedy world allows for a realistic and unapologetic look inside that showcases the struggles along with the potential rewards that come with it. The cast which is populated by a handful of other talented comics also helps in its own right and the end result is a far better film than many might expect and one that’s as rewarding as it enjoyable to behold. Fans of stand-up comedy as a whole as well as fans of comedians Steve Byrne and Jimmy O. Yang will all want to strongly consider giving this one a chance whenever possible, it’s a great little film that’s definitely worth taking the time to check out.
Overall, ‘The Opening Act’ is a heartwarming, enjoyable and quite funny look at one man’s journey and struggle to realize his lifelong dream of becoming a professional comedian. It keeps the story moving along swiftly throughout with plenty of hilarious fun and goofiness layered throughout, yet somewhat surprisingly still tackles the tale with care and heart, really allowing us to relate to and root for our lead as he fights to begin establishing himself in the world of comedy. ‘The Opening Act’ is recommended, especially for fans of stand-up in general or anyone that enjoys a hilarious and heartfelt tale with plenty of fun and rewarding moments within. If your attention is already at all piqued by the film, it should definitely be worth ninety minutes of your time and the price of a rental one relaxing evening at home.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Opening Act’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great altogether and provides a smooth, sharp and nicely detailed presentation from start to finish that doesn’t suffer from any noticeable troubles or issues along the way. It holds up smoothly even during the few darkly lit and heavily populated moments, never allowing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that shouldn’t disappoint fans or first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack offers a clean, crisp and reasonably active surround presentation throughout that never falters or disappoints. It consistently utilizes all five available channels in order to send crowd noise, music and more throughout the various speakers whenever it might be appropriate, while always making certain that any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously never become distorted or rendered inaudible along the way. Overall, this is a great 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it while nicely complementing the onscreen fun.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Opening Act’ includes a few enjoyable extras. Included on the release are ‘Extended Stand-up Performances’ from the film (running approximately 11 minutes in length), in addition to a couple of Behind the Scenes Featurettes: ‘The Making of The Opening Act’ (running approximately 6 minutes) which includes behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus ‘Getting Started in Comedy’ (approximately 4 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
‘The Opening Act’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from RLJE Films
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