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Pushing Tin"Pushing Tin" and "Never Been Kissed" on DVD

20th Century Fox video's DVD release of "Pushing Tin" has a lot of promise, and for the most part delivers.

The film stars John Cusack as ace air traffic controller Nick Falzone, who has the world by the tail until mysterious loner controller Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) transfers in and upsets Nick's comfortable little world.

Nick becomes very competitive with Russell, who doesn't appear competitive at all - he just keeps quietly raising the performance bar on and off the job, making Nick ever more obsessed with Russell and life in general.

Things really come to a head after Nick has a "momentary lapse of judgment" with Russell's wife, Mary, (Angelina Jolie), after which all hell breaks loose in all their lives.

Pushing Tin is less about airplanes and air traffic than it's about men versus men and men versus women. The performances are first rate, as are the production values - with the exception of the digital special effects aircraft, which look like the 1990's version of the old "spacecraft on a string" school of FX.

This is a shame, because there are some beautiful aircraft models; unfortunately, they look fake.

The DVD is in widescreen, and Dolby Digital (though, as is usual with Fox, the audio track defaults to Dolby Pro Logic and you have to change it to AC-3 in the "language" menu). Extras are limited to the trailer, chapter stops and the language choices.

Pushing Tin is a promising concept, and is set in a fascinating world about which most of us never learn much, but in the end the movie itself ends up being relatively routine.

Pushing Tin, from 20th Century Fox Video,
Widescreen (2.35:1) Dolby Digital
Starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie
Written by Glen and Les Charles, Produced by Art Linson, Directed by Mike Newell

Never Been Kissed

Never Been Kissed is a bit traditional romance film and a bit coming of age movie, with some healthy shots against the mainstream media mindset thrown in for good measure. It succeeds on all of these levels and ends up being a charming movie.

Drew Barrymore stars (and was executive producer) as a young copy editor for one of Chicago's big daily newspapers. But she aspires to greater things. She wants to be an honest to goodness reporter and go after the real story.

Well, she gets her chance, via an assignment to go undercover at a high school to get whatever scoop she can dig up. Her superiors at the paper want something hard, something they can put on page one (preferably above the fold, where the most "important" stories go).

But the story they really want is an expose of teacher/student romance, set off by her and her teacher's obvious attraction to each other. Drew can't bring herself to destroy a person for whom she cares, however, and ends up "outing" herself rather than compromise her principles.

For which you'd think she would be acclaimed, but of course the opposite happens and her life and career are destroyed.

Or are they? She actually does get the story, not a front page expose but a far more appropriate and quite moving feature in which she bares her soul while capturing the essence of her experiences. We won't spoil the ending by saying more than that.

"Never Been Kissed" is also about revisiting your own past - and how you can never really go home any more - as well as giving some gentle but well-placed digs at the school's "cool crowd" whose superficial lives are dedicated to self indulgence and tormenting the "geeks."

Barrymore herself is as charming as the film. She plays a fish out of water (both in high school and in the boardroom), and is joined in the likable cast by David Arquette (as her brother), and Michael Vartan as the teacher she so very nearly destroys.

A nice touch - that must have brought some initial horror to the cast and crew - is the use of their old school photos over the closing credits, an act that says a lot about the mindset of this film and its makers.

The DVD is in widescreen, Dolby Digital (with the usual menu-activated AC-3 setting). Picture and sound quality are excellent - as is the musical soundtrack. Extras are limited to chapter stops, language choices, and the trailer.

Never Been Kissed from 20th Century Fox Home Video
approx. 105 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
starring Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Molly Shannon, Leelee Sobieski, Garry Marshall
Written by Abby Kohn, Mark Silverstein, Produced by Sandy Isaac, Nancy Juvonen
Directed by Raja Gosnell.


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Updated May 13, 2006