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Review: 95 Miles to Go

This documentary about the career of comedian Ray Romano is 'peppered with surprisingly funny moments.'

 

Not everybody, strictly speaking, loves Raymond, but if you yourself are a fan of comedian and television personality Ray Romano, you may be excited to learn about the release of 95 Miles To Go, a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary available currently on DVD from VSC. 95 Miles is compiled from footage shot during Romano’s early career, combined with more recent footage shot and edited by Romano’s friend, partner in crime, and contributing Everybody Loves Raymond writer Tom Caltabiano. Non-fans may inevitably find less to connect with in the documentary’s informal, behind-the-scenes presentation of stand-up touring, but even if Romano’s brand of humor leaves you lukewarm, it’s still a relatively engaging document of the stripped-down, occasionally draining lifestyle of celebrity comics.

Romano is best known as the personable star of the long-running family sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which aired on CBS for over ten years before finally ending in 2006. Shot primarily during the height of Romano’s fame and visibility, the crux of the documentary’s humor hinges primarily on the gaffes and foibles of being recognized constantly in public by well-meaning, but often naïve and discomfiting people, as well as the generally disorienting strangeness of occupying such a dual public role. Caltabiano, who initiated the project and edited together the final film, has worked with Romano in a slightly lower-profile capacity since the start of Romano’s career, and interspersed with more specific episodes, the movie’s time is filled largely with Romano and Caltabiano’s jovial and familiar on-the-road banter.

Like Romano’s sitcom, the movie is content to remain a lightly detached comic puff piece, delving only very superficially into the more complicated or challenging aspects of the comedian’s personal life and career. There’s nothing strictly wrong with this approach, but for those without a preexisting investment in Romano’s specific brand of comedy, it runs the risk of becoming alienating and dry. Fortunately, Romano and Caltabiano have a nice rapport and the film is peppered with surprisingly funny moments, though the humor remains always reliably mundane and innocuous.

For fans of Romano, or those curious to learn more, the disc is packed with special features, including an unbroken 30 minute comedy set that aired originally as a television special in HBO. There are also extended and deleted scenes, a video commentary track featuring the documentary’s stars, and two separate audio tracks from technical contributors, like the composer and the cinematographer (which seems maybe a little excessive, but why not). The film will no doubt be a rare treat for those already enamored, and even for the uninitiated, it’s far from unwatchable.