I almost wish I hadn't seen this before watching the newer "film" version. I am sure I would have enjoyed the film version much better had I not seen this one first. I had a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy of this in VHS version the year it came out (1985) and thought it was the funniest thing I had seen in years! Definitely the funniest "Mormon" movie I had ever seen. Well, that may be because his was the very first "Mormon movie" I had ever seen. But it is great none the less. I can only think of one thing I wish could be improved: The picture and sound quality. The picture is grainy and the sound is low with "noise" (like a soft wind in the microphone) throughout the whole film. Alas, we will have to live with the quality we have.
For those who may not know (probably nobody), this is the original STAGE VERSION of the film, The Best Two Years (2003). It was recorded in front of a live audience using two or three cameras, placed at different spots in the theater. This makes it possible for the close-ups different angles.
In this version, Scott S. Anderson (the writer who based the piece on experiences from his own mission in Holland) plays the role of Elder Rogers - and does a SUPERB job! He is much funnier than KC Clyde (who plays Rogers in the film version), though Clyde may look more the part age-wise and play the angst and dramatism better.
Elder Michaels (the "flip" Elder) is much funnier in this and the cocky ladies-man Elder Stevens (renamed to Elder Van Pelt in the film version) is brilliant as the know-it-all aspiring kiss-up. The two companions have even more funny moments in this than the film version and will have you rolling on the floor laughing! As in the film, the character of Elder Stevens (renamed to Calhoun in the film) gets the most laughs. He is played much more as a geek in this than the film, and though it is arguably a bit over-the-top, he pulls it off so well he totally had me believing him as a real person. His sincerity, humility and naivety appears genuine and makes you fall in love with his character.
I guess I have spent enough time writing a review that will probably never be read by anybody, but I had to comment on how much I love this stage-play, and wish the film version could have remained truer to the original.
(For the record, I also liked the film version, but was disappointed to see the script changed so much and some of the funnier moments left out completely.) One very cool thing is that everybody can watch this now because they included it as supplemental material on The Best Two Years DVD! The quality is still quite bad (as described above), but it is still far superior to the film in many ways.
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