is a really bad movie, full of really nice cars. European-produced and
shot in the South of France, it follows the fortunes of master car thief
and high tech wizard Luke (David Arquette), who's hired to steal the RPM
Supercar. Also hired to help, or compete with, him is Claudia (Famke Janssen).
Despite the billion dollar tag for stealing the innovative
RPM, which uses a new "gas-free" engine (they don't charge for the gas?),
it's not the money that motivates Luke and Claudia: it's the rush.
There's "intrigue," sex, a little "cartoon" violence,
larger than life villains, and some high speed action, but with little
point to it all.
movie appears to be an excuse to photograph a bunch of beautiful classic
and ultra-high-end modern cars against a beautiful backdrop, and on that
level it works. The script, however, is really, really bad, with lame
situations and banal dialog. It's so bad we were tempted to turn down
the sound and just look at the beautiful wheels - but we had a job to
DVD is in full screen video, with Dolby Digital 2 channel stereo audio.
Picture quality is great, but the sound leaves a lot to be desired (another
reason to just turn it down and be done with it!).
Extras include cast and crew bios/filmographies, the trailer,
a trivia game (unfortunately, they ask you questions about the movie;
we were looking forward to some classic car trivia).
bad. The movie had promise, but it didn't come close to living up to it.
"The Three Stooges
- All the World's a Stooge" on DVD
"Stooges" fans will undoubtedly love Columbia Tristar
Home Video's "All the World's a Stooge." The DVD gathers together seven
of the trio's shorts made between 1937 and 1946, making them available
in one 124 minute collection.
is the "Larry, Moe, and Curly" incarnation of the Stooges, probably the
most famous version. The collection itself is childish, violent, labored
and obvious - which means it's a Stooges fan's heaven!
seven shorts are:
- Grips, grunts and
Groands (1937). The lads face disaster when guarding a drunken wrestler;
- All the World's
a Stooge (1941). The Stooges are disguised as kids to frighten a woman
out of adopting children
- 3 Dumb Clucks (1937).
The trio tries to prevent their dad from marrying a floozy.
- Three Little Pirates
(1946). Shipwrecked, the Stooges must escape an evil governor and survive
- Uncivil War Birds
(1946). Larry and Moe enlist in the Union army; Curly goes South.
- Back to the Woods
(1937). Cowboys, well, Stooges, up against the Indians.
- Violent is the
Word for Curly (1938). They start at a gas station, but end up being
mistaken for luminaries at a nearby college.
The DVD is presented
in fullscreen, naturally, and though the box says the audio and video
have been digitally remastered it certainly isn't up to the standards
of some other old flicks Columbia Tristar has redone. Still, the source
material was low budget and the production values, like the scripts, were
a joke, so it probably doesn't matter that much.
Extras are confined
to a short but decent liner essay inside the box and the usual audio and
Watching the Stooges
again after all these years was like visiting an old friend. The only
problem was that these old friends just don't seem as funny as they once
did - before this reviewer also had the opportunity to become familiar
with the likes of Abbott and Costello and the Marx Brothers.
But, hey, beauty is
a finger in the eye socket of the beholder, nyack nyack!
"Superstar" on DVD
film based on "Saturday Night LIve" schticks, is a truly dumb movie. It
isn't particularly funny, either.
Molly Shannon stars
as Mary Katherine Gallagher, who has two main desires in life: to get
a boy to give her a whopping, heart-stopping kiss, and to become a "Superstar."
She's a student at
a Roman Catholic school, an ugly duckling who's only popular with other
Along comes a magazine-sponsored
talent contest, and Mary Katherine decides (much to her mother's chagrin)
to enter so she can start moving down her road to superstardom and, hopefully,
get that all-important kiss.
The movie's predictable
and the humor is fairly non-existent, but at least you'll only waste 82
minutes of your life sitting through "Superstar."
One thing worthy of
note is the casting of Glynis Johns, a good actress of whom we haven't
seen much lately. We remember her chiefly as Jane and Michael Banks' mother
in the Disney classic "Mary Poppins."
She must have needed
The DVD is presented
in widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 TV's, and the audio is Dolby Digital.
Extras are confined to chapter stops, subtitles, and the theatrical trailer.
"Boys Don't Cry" on DVD
Boys Don't Cry is
an ugly movie about a screwed up kid who chooses to hang out on the wrong
side of the tracks and pays heavily for her bad decisions.
Hilary Swank won
the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Teena Brandon, a girl who
won't admit to being a lesbian but who dreams of a sex change operation
so she can pursue women in a more "normal" manner. She does a fine job
in her role and it's hard not to feel sorry for her character, but "Brandon"
(who spends the movie pretending to be a boy) is at his/her core a loser
who uses her "sexual identity crisis" as a crutch to justify not facing
her main problem - which is a penchant for making poor choices.
"Brandon" gets involved
in the lowlife crowd of a small Nebraska town, a gang of boozing and brawling
hicks whose lives are going nowhere, and who seem to like it that way.
This blows up in her face repeatedly during the film, but she refuses
to learn from experience.
The closest thing
to a sympathetic character is the confused girl "Brandon" befriends and
beds, convincing her that she's having a heterosexual relationship.
The widescreen image
quality is great, as is the sound quality, but this reviewer has to admit
that sitting through "Boys Don't Cry" was a real ordeal.
The filmmakers try
to make us feel sorry for "Brandon," who after all (in typical liberal
Hollywood tradition) is an innocent victim of her confused sexuality.
Except that she isn't
an innocent victim, and rather than using her challenges as a springboard
to greater things she wallows in them, never faces up to them, and chooses
to continue a self-destructive life.
Perhaps the movie's
really a lesbian recruiting film, but more likely it's a typically Hollywood
exercise in artsy fartsiness.
"The Best of the Chris Rock Show" on DVD
If you like Chris
Rock's HBO TV series, you'll probably like this "Best of" collection culled
from the broadcasts.
Rock is a likeable
guy with a good and irreverent sense of humor. The first couple of minutes
of the disc are pretty funny, too. In fact, they're the best part of this
disc - though to be fair it has its moments later on as well.
Rock lampoons everything
in his sights, including the black community. One of the funnier bits
is when a black activist comes on stage to complain about discrimination
he's suffered because of his color; then it becomes obvious that the discrimination
he allegedly faces is for something else entirely. Or is it? The bit has
a nice twist at the end.
It's a good comedy
Harlem to poll on the residents' opinions on Princess Diana and the sport
of golf also bring about some good yuks.
Most of it's pretty
standard stuff, though, and not as funny as we'd expect from a "best of"
collection. This made us feel that the average episode must, on the whole,
be pretty lame if the 59 minutes of this disc only contain 15 or 20 of
really funny stuff.
Then again, humor
is in the mind of the beholder.
If you're worried
about profanity and sexual content, you'll want to give this disc a pass.
Its language is street level, as are its situations. It doesn't seem gratuitous
or meant to shock; it's just the way the people in the show talk.
The DVD is in fullscreen
(1.33:1), recorded for TV, and the picture quality is excellent. Audio
is 2 channel stereo and the quality is also very good. There aren't really
"Four Weddings and a Funeral" on DVD
Tales of Love and
This MGM release could
be described as a "British Screwball comedy" about a couple that really
should be together but which never seems able to get together for more
than a brief tryst.
Hugh Grant and Andie
MacDowell star as the "circumstance-crossed lovers" who meet at the first
and second wedding, are separated by MacDowell's participation in the
third wedding. The fourth wedding? You'll have to watch for yourself.
Then, of course, there's
the funeral, which as it turns out one of Grant's closest friends is dying
Grant is a commitment-challenged
man determined never to get near the altar except perhaps as best man,
but MacDowell - and the happiness he sees around him - changes all that.
Unfortunately, by the time he realizes he wants to settle down he can't
settle down with the now-married MacDowell. So he settles for "second
best." Or does he?
The movie starts promisingly
enough, and the first wedding and a half are pretty funny, but after that
it almost seems a rehash. Still, the movie has its moments and, in typical
British tradition, relies on its writing, situation, and performances
for its humor.
A great supporting
cast includes Kristen Scott Thomas, Simon Callow, James Fleet, John Hannah,
and there's even a short appearance by Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson.
The DVD is in widescreen
(1.85:1) on one side and pan and scan on the other, so you get the best
of both worlds. Audio is Dolby Digital "stereo surround" though there
isn't much surround. Audio and video quality are very good. Extras include
chapter stops, a decent liner essay inside the package, and the original
"Tommy Boy" on DVD
The Boss's Kid Grows
Boy" stars the late Chris Farley as the son of an Ohio auto parts manufacturer
(Brian Dennehy) who, after seven years, graduates from college and returns
home to the family business.
Naturally, he's totally
unsuited for the job his daddy gives him, but after his father dies suddenly
on his wedding day he's forced to produce big time lest his company fall
to a takeover bid. Making matters worse, it turns out that Tommy's new
step mother (Bo Derek) is really out to cash in on her late husband's
shares, which is the only reason she married him in the first place.
So Tommy heads out
onto the road to drum up sales for this company's new brake pad division.
With him, as mentor, is David Spade, and together they have a series of
misadventures that not only bring them together as friends, but which
showcase Tommy's growth and culminates in the saving of the company.
Most of the film takes
place with Farley and Spade on the road, learning the ropes of the sales
business, and this is where most of the laughs come. The situations are
outrageous and for the most part they work well. You even start to like
Farley and Spade, the latter of whom plays a far more sympathetic character
than the oily one he's made famous on the sitcom "Just Shoot Me."
The DVD is in widescreen
(2.35:1), enhanced for 16x9 TV's, with Dolby Digital audio. Not surprisingly,
picture and sound quality are first rate. Extras are few and far between,
limited to the trailer, subtitles, chapter stops, and a liner blurb on
the back of the box.
This Lorne (Saturday
Night Live) Michaels production follows the same kind of formula that
works so well for Adam Sandler, though
Sandler generally comes across as a more likable character. Still, "Tommy
Boy" succeeds for the most part and gives its audience what it wants:
an unpretentious and entertaining series of bellylaughs.
"Dirty Work" on DVD
Vengeance is Theirs
MGM's "Dirty Work,"
like Adam Sandler's best films, is the
tale of a social misfit who finally finds something at which to excel,
and then excels at it.
This time around,
Norm Macdonald (like Sandler, an ex-Saturday Night Live team member),
needs to make a quick fifty grand to pay for his father's heart transplant.
Unfortunately, he isn't good at holding a job - nor is he really good
at anything except "not taking crap from anyone."
In a blinding flash
of inspiration, he and his brother decide to exploit that "talent" by
opening up a "revenge for hire" business that does people's dirty work
for them. It's a way for ordinary people to get payback for wrongs done
to them by bullies, big corporations, etc.
It's pretty standard
stuff, but that doesn't mean it isn't funny - and in fact it has quite
a few good laughs. We would have liked to see more "revenge for hire"
jobs than are offered, but the ones that are there are pretty inventive.
Along for the ride
are Jack Warden as Macdonald's ex-boxer dad, Artie Lange, Traylor Howard,
Chevy Chase, Don Rickles, Christopher McDonald and assorted cameos. The
film is directed by Bob (America's Funniest Home Videos) Saget, and he
does a good job.
The 82 minute DVD
is in widescreen, enhanced for widescreen TV's, Dolby Digital 5.1, and
looks and sounds great. The disc comes with the usual trailer, chapter
stops, and even a surprisingly generous set of liner notes.
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on DVD
Hughes spent much of the 1980's making a variety of teen flicks, from
"The Breakfast Club" to "Sixteen Candles." "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
is kind of a departure, in that rather than featuring an ensemble cast
telling a variety of stories, it follows the fortunes of Ferris Bueller
(Matthew Broderick), a popular kid who decides that life's too short to
spend a particularly beautiful Spring slaving over the books at school.
So he decides to cut
class, with an involved and well-planned "sickness" alibi. Ferris is quite
bright and very inventive, and uses all the tools at hand to make his
He drags his girlfriend
(Mia Sara) and best friend (Alan Ruck) along with him, brazenly springing
his love right out of the classroom and the trio head for adventure in
the heart of Chicago snuggled into Ruck's Dad's classic 1961 Ferrari 250
GT California, one of the most beautiful sports cars ever built. These
cars are extremely rare and valuable, so we can only assume the one they
used in this movie - considering what happens to it - was a ringer. We
certainly hope so!
Suffice it to say
they have a wonderful time on their day off.
the unique touch of having Broderick spend a good part of the film talking
to the audience, and the tactic works for the most part. The casting is
inspired; Broderick plays the role of the likable Ferris with just the
right twinkle in his eye, Ruck is appropriately put upon but loyal, and
Sarah is warm and pretty. Jeffery Jones plays the "villain," Ferris' school
principal who knows a rat when he smells one and spends most of the movie's
102 minutes trying to trap it.
Naturally, he's no
match for Ferris, and his misadventures foreshadow those of the bad guys
in Hughes' later "Home Alone" movies.
Day Off" is a likable movie, lighthearted and free spirited, and has some
good laughs and funny situations. It'll never go down in Hollywood's history
as a true classic, but it's an enjoyable bit of fluff nonetheless.
The DVD is presented
in widescreen, 2.35:1 (enhanced for 16x9 TV's), Dolby Digital (unfortunately,
the audio defaults to regular Dolby surround and you have to access AC-3
from the setup menu) and the audio and video quality are superb. There
aren't a lot of extras, but you do get a second audio track commentary
by writer/director/co-producer John Hughes, and it's an engaging reminiscence
on his part.
"Forces of Nature" on DVD
Like a Bullock in
a China Shop
"Forces of Nature"
is a bit buddy flick, a bit "fish out of water" flick a bit "romantic/screwball
comedy" and a bit "road movie." The fact that it tries to be all of these
things perhaps is why it never really succeeds at being any of them. And
that's a shame, 'cause the premise is good.
The story follows
the misfortunes of rock-solid citizen Ben (Ben Affleck) who's on his way
from New York to Savannah, Georgia for his wedding. When his plane has
an "incident" on the runway in New York, he's left to his own devices
to find his way South for the nuptials. He ends up teamed with the "free
spirit" Sarah (Sandra Bullock) and they go through all kinds of misadventures
on the road to Savannah.
To no one's surprise,
adversity brings Ben and Sarah close, so close that Ben's ready to chuck
his fiance to run off with Sarah by the time they actually get to Savannah.
It seems that Sarah has a might influence on Ben, despite the fact that
he never really gets a straight answer from her about who she is and what
she's all about.
There are some nice
scenes in "Forces," and some beautiful cinematography and nice weather
effects. The performances are also journeymen, including Affleck, Bullock,
and Maura Tierney, Blythe Danner and Ronny Cox. You really do like Ben
and Sarah, but you never really root for them to get together that much
and a lot of their misfortunes could have been avoided with a couple of
well-timed phone calls or the judicious use of an ATM or credit card,
but I guess we're not supposed to figure that part out.
The story's been done
a million times before (probably best by Peter Bogdanovitch with "What's
Up Doc?") and there isn't a lot that's new here, though in a final plot
twist Ben makes an interesting decision when he shows up at the wedding
to break off his relationship with Tierney.
The 106 minute DVD
feature is in widescreen, Dolby Digital and both picture and sound are
terrific - including some nice use of Dolby Digital Surround for some
weather effects. Extras include a decent set of liner notes about the
production, cast/filmmaker bios, a behind the scenes featurette and some
deleted scenes. You also get the trailer and chapter access.
"Election" on DVD
Reese's Latest Piece...
As with Rushmore,
"Election" is the story of a driven high school student - but that's about
where the similarities end.
Where the kid in Rushmore
wasn't a great student, he was a good person under trying circumstances.
Election, however, tells the tale of Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon),
who's a straight "A" student determined to add "student president" to
the list of her achievements. At virtually any cost.
Now, Tracy isn't really
a bad person; she's just fixed on her goals and not about to let anything
get in her way. In fact, there isn't a really bad person in this movie,
though many are pretty messed up. Unfortunately there isn't really anyone
for whom you can root, either - except for the injured football star who's
a very sympathetic character.
Everyone else in this
movie gets a series of comeuppances, most of which are deserved in one
way or another.
On the whole, Election
is a nasty little flick - though it does have a few decent laughs in it.
Perhaps because it's an "MTV Production," and therefore undoubtedly aimed
at youth, the movie sees virtually all the major adult characters end
up chewed up and spat out, while the teens come out smelling like roses.
and Witherspoon both turn in good performances in their respective roles
as popular teacher and popular student. Witherspoon is particularly good,
and despite how nasty the movie gets you can't really bring yourself to
hate her. In fact, she doesn't really deserve to be hated, which makes
one wonder why Broderick's character is so intent on scuttling her student
Chris Klein, as the
good-hearted jock, is also very likable. His role is the only one, especially
among the kids, that isn't completely self absorbed, and he's a refreshing
change from his peer group in "Election."
Perhaps that's why
the movie itself isn't particularly likable. The concept is fine, the
performances are good - but besides Klein there's really no one for whom
you can root. And while Broderick's life ending up in a shambles is deserved
to a certain extent, his punishment doesn't appear to fit the crime, given
the actions of other people in the movie.
Still, Election is
at heart a teen flick, so perhaps it's understandable that the teens come
out on top here.
If only they had deserved
The 103 minute DVD
is in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio (enhanced for 16x9 TV's), Dolby
Digital and audio/video quality are excellent. Extras are limited to closed
captioning, chapter stops, and an audio commentary by director/co-writer
"The Stand" on DVD
Artisan Home Video's
release of the Stephen King miniseries really pulls out all the stops
to make a great presentation of this feature - and in the process is a
good demo for the DVD medium as well.
Starring Gary Sinise,
Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis,
Miguel Ferrer, Corin Nemec, Matt Frewer, Adam Storke, Ray Walston, and
Rob Lowe, "The Stand" opens with the end of the world. After that, things
get progressively worse...
Part one of four (each
part ran on TV in a two hour time slot, with commercials) sees most of
the human race wiped out by the accidental release of a "superflu" virus
- and the setting up of the overall "good versus evil" plot. From there,
parts two through four show us the formation of the two camps, adds a
lot of supernatural spirituality, and builds steadily to the final confrontation
in the devil's playground also known as Las Vegas, Nevada.
a lot more to the plot than this - after all, it's an eight hour miniseries!
The scope is broad, the casting and screenplay first rate, and while the
series may not really cause one to jump out of one's seat, it's definitely
creepy - and entertaining throughout.
Movies made from Stephen
King novels are generally pale imitations of their literary sires, but
both "The Stand" and "'Salem's Lot" have translated very well into TV
miniseries. In the case of "The Stand," King himself penned the screenplay
(and plays a small part in the cast), and while it's many a year since
I read the original novel, his script seems to have done the book justice.
The DVD puts two episodes
onto each side of the disc (the series runs 360 minutes in all, or about
90 minutes per "two hour" episode - which shows just how many commercials
and promos one sits through when watching TV), as well as bundling extras
like an audio commentary featuring King, director Mick Garris, cast members,
and editor Pat McMahon.
There's also a "making
of" featurette, though it's very short and looks like it was originally
a TV promo for the broadcast (not that there's anything wrong with that,
of course). Other extras include "storyboard comparisons," a section on
"The Stand's" makeup effects (which are fine, but not really groundbreaking),
and of course chapter stops, production notes, and cast/crew info.
There's also a six
page set of liner notes, which is most welcome.
The picture (fullscreen)
and sound quality are fine, though the made-for-TV picture isn't as sharp
as many movies on DVD. The audio is Dolby 2.0 Surround.
The DVD medium is
really the best showcase in which to enjoy "The Stand." Not only do you
get to avoid all the mind-numbing commercials (in fact, they've done a
nice job of editing the miniseries so that you don't even notice where
the breaks were), but you can choose to watch an episode at a time, via
chapter stops, or you can sit through the whole thing at once, with no
breaks between episodes (merely a momentary fadeout/fade in) - not counting
the side change, of course.
But better wear a
catheter if you're going to do it all in one sitting...
"Twin Dragons" on DVD
Jackie Chan's Beside
Jackie Chan fans will
undoubtedly enjoy "Twin Dragons," which the filmmakers believe will double
The action flick casts
Chan as identical twins separated at birth, one of whom grows up in the
US to be a classical musician and conductor while the other stays in Hong
Kong and becomes a "streetwise martial arts expert."
The two come face
to face (talk about being two faced!) in Hong Kong when the classical
Chan arrives for a concert. Naturally, they're complete opposites in personality
(adding to the eternal question of "is it nature or nurture that makes
us who we are?") and, naturally, their identities and their lives get
confused and switched around until after the action packed finale.
Jackie Chan movies
are all pretty much the same, and are tongue in cheek adventure outings
that never take themselves particularly seriously. And Twin Dragons in
no different except that it also gives the action star a chance to play
a more cerebral character than usual while still letting him kick and
chop his way into your heart.
The dubbing into English
is atrocious, but that's part of the fun. The stunts and chases are enjoyable
and it looks like everyone in the cast is having a lot of fun making the
So while it hardly
breaks any new ground, that isn't what Jackie Chan movies are about.
And that's okay with
The DVD is widescreen
(2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (well, there isn't a lot of surround,
let alone stereo surround). Extras are limited to chapter stops.
"Stargate" on DVD
Not a Special Edition
This review was supposed
to be of the "Special Edition" of Stargate, but Live Home Video sent us
the original release instead.
Now we know where
they're releasing a special edition.
Stargate was the movie
that catapulted Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich to fame - the duo who
subsequently unleashed "Independence Day" and "Godzilla" onto unsuspecting
audiences around the world. It tells the story of a scientific/military
(or vice versa) mission through the title device to what turns out to
be an ancient civilization far, far away (but in the same galaxy).
Led by Kurt Russell
and James Spader, the expedition runs into - and afoul of - the Sun God
RA (played by Jaye Davidson) - a not very nice deity who keeps humans
around as slave labor.
The movie is at best
derivative, but it looks neat and as with ID4 and Godzilla, is reasonably
enjoyable if all you're looking for is a popcorn movie.
The DVD release commits
a couple of unforgivable sins, however, ones that make us unable to recommend
it for anyone's collection. Hopefully the Special Edition will atone...
Sin Number One is
that the movie, which only runs 119 minutes (or 122, depending upon which
part of the liner notes you read), is broken up into two sections. This
means that, as with laserdiscs (perhaps this DVD is merely a reissue of
the laserdisc version), you have to turn the damn thing over half
way through! We cannot forgive this from a medium that gets all
194 minutes of James Cameron's "Titanic" onto a single side of its DVD.
Give us a break!
Sin Number Two is
the video transfer, which isn't up to the standards of most DVD's these
days. The picture is good, but we've come to expect GREAT!
At least it's widescreen
and Dolby Digital...
Extras are limited
to teaser/trailer, with some production notes, chapter stops, cast/crew
bios and the usual languages/captions.
Better luck next time.
"The Blair Witch Project" on DVD
Innovative, but is
After all the hype
surrounding this movie, the fact that it came to video so quickly should
tell you a lot about how good it is.
Now, a movie's rapid
conversion to video doesn't necessarily mean it's no good - just that
it didn't find its theatrical audience - but in "The Blair Witch Project's"
case what you think may be true is: this movie is a failure.
And that's shame.
The concept (perhaps
"gimmick" is a better word) is terrific: make the film appear to be a
documentary shot by student filmmakers experiencing events as they unfold.
This follows the grand tradition of Orson Welles' radio "War of the Worlds"
that used fake radio news reports to give realism to the sci fi story.
But in Welles' case, he had a story to back up the gimmick - and that's
why his works and "Blair Witch" doesn't.
It's the writing,
stupid - as opposed to the stupid writing.
The trio of young
filmmakers in "Blair Witch" are idiots. Despite being well equipped with
map, compass, and even landmarks like small rivers by which to navigate
(let alone the sun!), they manage to get lost in relatively thin woods
while off to find out about the legend of the Blair Witch (which apparently
killed some kids years before).
These kids aren't
stupid, but they fall apart at the drop of a hat - with finger pointing
and self recrimination.
But the worst thing
is that nothing happens in this movie - least of all anything truly scary.
Almost the only things
out of the ordinary that do happen are a few bumps in the night. These
are indeed spooky, but nothing ever comes of them. One cast member is
lost in the night, but it happens off camera, between one scene and another.
The cast does happen
upon a strange area in the woods, a place in which weird stick formations
hang from the trees. But then they leave again. And they come across some
small rock cairns - and some small rock cairns appear outside their tent
- but who or what put them there and for what reason is never found out.
It's too bad. Such
an innovative and promising concept deserved a better fate.
Extras include "newly
discovered footage," director/producer commentary, cast/crew info, "The
Curse of the Blair Witch" (no, it isn't the movie itself). DVD ROM features
include web links and some excerpts from "the dossier" and "the comic
The Associate on DVD
Tootsie meets Whoopi
"The Associate" shoves Whoopi Goldberg through the glass ceiling of Wall
Goldberg plays an
extremely competent executive who can't get ahead because she's a woman
- so she quits and founds her own company, only to find that she can't
get noticed there because (surprise!) she's a woman.
She dreams up a male
partner, Robert Cutty (named after the Scotch) who, though unseen and
never heard from because he's really Goldberg, becomes the toast of Wall
Street almost overnight.
Whoopi to appear in public as Robert Cutty, which she accomplishes through
a makeup job as was done to Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie and Robin Williams
in Mrs. Doubtfire. In the end, everything falls apart and the only way
to put it right (and make a feminist statement at the same time) is for
Goldberg to "out" herself.
The cast is terrific.
Goldberg gives a fine performance, though she may be playing herself to
a certain extent. She's joined by the usually-likable Tim Daly as a sleazy
"associate," Dianne Wiest as another downtrodden woman who rises to the
top with Whoopi (and who also deserves to), and Eli Wallach as the Big
Wheel around whom most of the wheelings and dealings revolve. Bebe Neuwirth
also turns in a hot performance as the stereotypical woman who represents
everything about which the movie is complaining.
The 1.85:1 widescreen,
Dolby Digital DVD looks and sounds typically great. Extras are very sparse,
however. There's a French language track, chapter stops, the theatrical
trailer, and that's about it. We wish Buena Vista (who distributes Hollywood
and Touchstone Pictures as well as Disney) would
Directed by Donald
Petrie, "The Associate" isn't a particularly funny comedy, but it's a
decent film nontheless - and even if you're a crusty old male chauvinist
pig (like some would accuse this writer of being) you really do end up
rooting for the (dare we say it?) chicks.
A Civil Action on DVD
Lawyers as heroes?
version of the Jonathan Harr's book casts John Travolta in the real life
role of Jan Schlictmann, an ambulance chaser turned personal injury lawyer
with a conscience.
Travolta leads an
all-star cast that also includes Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, Kathleen
Quinlan, and John Lithgow, and the performances are what one would expect
from such talent. The story stands up well, too: high priced lawyer comes
across a case that has millions of dollars written all over it, then finds
himself in the legal fight of his life against high powered opponents
with far deeper pockets than his with which to drag things out.
It's a good story,
one that uses the real names of the corporations involved, and you end
up rooting for Travolta and his associates - who put everything on the
line for their clients (mostly, though they're also concerned with their
own fiscal rewards as well).
In the end it kind
of peters out, though, which is a shame. We won't spoil the ending by
telling you what happens, but we expected to see more of a conclusion
to the film. Instead, we're given a couple of paragraphs of on screen
text that tell us what happens after the film ends (almost as if the producers
didn't want the film to go any longer than its 115 minute running time).
It was a technique used best in George Lucas' American Grafitti.
The widescreen (1.85:1
aspect ratio), Dolby Digital DVD looks and sounds great, but it's nearly
bereft of extras. There's a brief production featurette included on the
disc. Liner notes are limited to the jacket blurb, and you get chapter
stops, the theatrical trailer, and a French language track.
Doctor Doolittle on DVD
Eddie Murphy Talks
20th Century Fox's
remake of the children's classic Doctor Doolittle dispenses with the music
and most of everything else from the 1960's Rex Harrison offering, updating
the plot and twisting it into a vehicle for Eddie Murphy's comedic talents.
The result is not
a particularly satisfying Doctor Doolittle, but it is a surprisingly satisfying
Eddie Murphy movie.
Rather than learning
to talk to animals, Murphy - a "human" medical doctor - has this strange,
built in talent. Everyone else thinks he's nuts, of course, and at one
point he's committed to the looney bin.
All's well that ends
well, of course, and in the end Murphy's Dr. Doolittle wins over the hearts
and minds of those around him - and saves some multi- legged lives in
Murphy's role is a
more adult one than most; he's a family man who takes those responsibilities
seriously - and his performance is gentle and real.
The 1.85:1 aspect
ratio widescreen DVD is in Dolby Digital, though you have to access the
AC-3 soundtrack from the language menu; the disc defaults to Dolby Pro
Logic. Picture and sound quality are excellent, but the only extras you
get are the chapter list and theatrical trailer.
The DVD we reviewed
was a prerelease "screener," so it had no packaging and we therefore can't
comment on liner notes and/or lack of same.
Directed by Betty
Thomas, Dr. Doolittle is one of those "heartwarming" family films of which
there aren't enough these days. It has a little bit of coarse language,
but nothing too coarse; ditto for its situations. And you may enjoy playing
"guess the celebrity voice" when you hear all those furry and feathery
friends start talking to the Doctor.
Spy Hard on DVD
Spoof a la Airplane!
Leslie Nielsen is back in Hollywood Pictures' "Spy Hard,"
the latest in the seemingly never ending line of genre spoofs that date
back to "Airplane!" in the early 1980's.
Nielsen plays agent WD40, who's lured back into action
by the return of his arch nemesis General Rancor (Andy Griffith, in a
good change of pace role). The film is full of the usual stunts, sight
gags, puns, etc. as it parodies the James Bond movie franchise - and as
usual the supporting cast seems to be there just to make Nielsen's bumbling
oaf look super competent.
cast includes Nicolette Sheridan, Charles Durning, Marcia Gay Harden,
and Barry Bostwick. Sheridan and Bostwick are the best of the bunch.
seen most of this stuff before, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and
there are some laughs here. The best part of the film, however, is "Weird
Al" Yankovic's opening credits scene, which does a great parody of the
sexy imagery that Maurice Binder made famous in the Bond movies. We had
to go back and watch it again after the movie was over.
1.85:1 aspect ratio widescreen DVD is recorded in Dolby Digital and picture/sound
quality are up to the usual DVD standards (terrific!). Extras are limited
to the trailer, chapter list, French language track - and there's a short
"production featurette" that, while little more than an extended trailer,
is a welcome addition nonetheless.
you like these screwball comedies, you'll probably enjoy Spy Hard. It
breaks no new ground, but nor is it meant to.