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French & Saunders: The Ingenue Years

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Brian J. Dillard
Viewers with a voracious appetite for the pop culture send-ups of British comedy team Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have plenty of other video collections to savor, most notably French & Saunders: At the Movies. Those who prefer the duo's delicious predilection for skewering every segment of British society will find French & Saunders: The Ingenue Years more to their liking. As performers, Saunders and French can nail the accent, the attitude, and the facial tics of all sorts of characters, but as writers, they're often best when poking fun at broad types rather than at specific characters from film or TV. As a result, these early sketches, from before the show became an endless parade of movie spoofs, rank among the duo's freshest. Children's telly, mischievous schoolgirls, uppity maids, and pretentious ballerinas are just a few of the subjects that get the French & Saunders treatment. When the gags do take aim at pop culture, it's usually at people -- from Katharine Hepburn to Liza Minnelli -- rather than at specific works of art; at moments such as these, the humor is as likely to fail as it is to succeed. But when the women stick to such hilarious original characters as a pair of society matrons who like to wear their fur freshly killed, French & Saunders: The Ingenue Years generates as many belly laughs as any other compendium of the duo's material -- maybe more. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi
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