Follow us on

DVD Releases for February 3, 2009 - Part II

February 3rd, 2009

Wow. That was... Due to technical difficulties, late deliveries, and some misfiled DVDs, this week's list is a little later than normal (but it's still Tuesday, so it's not technically late). It is also a lot larger than normal with a record number of Spotlight reviews (23 in all, or 30 if you count individual movies). There are also some very high quality releases including Zack and Miri Make a Porno on either DVD or Blu-ray. However, given the subject matter of that film, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. The best release of the week is, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist on DVD or Blu-ray, but especially on Blu-ray, which is worth the upgrade. That film is the DVD Pick of the Week. With a record number of spotlight reviews, it goes without saying that the list had to be split up this week, with the first part found here, while the third part can be found here. (First time I had to separate the list into three parts.)

I Love the 80s - Buy from Amazon: The Accused, American Dreamer, Black Rain, Cheech and Chong's Still Smoking, Clue, Coming to America, Dragonslayer, Eddie Murphy Raw, Flashdance, Gallipoli, The Golden Child, Harlem Nights, Heartburn, The Hunter, Lady Jane, Mommie Dearest, Naked Gun - From the Files of Police Squad, An Officer and a Gentleman, Ordinary People, The Presidio, Ragtime, Rattle and Hum, Shirley Valentine, Staying Alive, Summer Rentals, Top Secret!, Trading Places, Tucker, The Untouchables, and Young Sherlock Holmes
The next wave of I Love the 80s releases are coming out this week, and its an eclectic mix of genres, and a wide range in quality level. I received screeners from five of these releases.

Cheech and Chong's Still Smoking - Buy from Amazon
The fifth film from the comedy duo, this time Cheech and Chong play ... well, they play Cheech and Chong, who are off to Amsterdam to be part of a Burt Reynolds / Dolly Parton Film Festival, but once there they are mistaken for Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, which is only the beginning of the hilarity. At least that's what the filmmakers were hoping for.

Most fans of Cheech and Chong will agree that their earlier films were the best and that they just kept getting weaker and weaker. I like most of the films these two have appeared in, either alone or together, including The Corsican Brothers, their final film as a team. (I will admit that I am in the minority opinion there.) But I found this movie to be a chore to watch. Most of their films they play lovable losers having pot filled adventures. Here they are playing themselves as rich and famous celebrities, and because of this is loses a lot of its charm. Perhaps they were growing tired of the same routine, which would explain why they made such a complete change in The Corsican Brothers, but it doesn't work here.

There are no extras on the DVD, but it does come with a 4-song CD. The same 4-song CD that comes with every I Love the 80s DVD coming out this week, which is the same 4-song CD that came out with every I Love the 80s release from last August.

Coming to America - Buy from Amazon
Eddie Murphy plays Prince Akeem, who as the soon to be leader of his African nation is looking for a bride. However, the potential selection where he lives if dire indeed, so he decides to head elsewhere, and what better place to find the perfect bride for a soon to be king than Queens. So with his trusty servant / advisor in tow (Semmi played by Arsenio Hall) Akeem heads to New York City. What follows is part culture shock, part cross-class romance. But is it funny?

For the most part, yes. It is not among his classic like 48 Hrs., Trading Places, or Beverly Hills Cop, but it is better than practically every live action movie he's made since then. Not everything works, but enough does that I can recommend watching the movie.

Extras? There are no extras. There are no subtitles, and the movies is non-anamorphic widescreen. This is as bare bones as you can get. What's worse you can grab the Special Edition for a lot less, or the Blu-ray for about the same price.

Flash Dance - Buy from Amazon
Jennifer Beals stars as Alex, a steelworker who dreams of studying at the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance. The only dancing she currently does is at a non-strip club. It looks like a strip club, but none of the women take off their clothing. But she's learning how to perform ballet by reading books and watching it on TV, and one day, if she decides she really wants to, she'll try out for the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance.

The reaction to this film, and its star Jennifer Beals, was strange. At first it looked like Jennifer Beals would be the next big superstar, until it was revealed that all the dancing in the movie was done by another woman, Marine Jahan. This revelation practically killed Jennifer Beals' career for the next 20 years. Using a stunt dancing is the least of this film's sins. It is full of clichés, and the plot has more holes than plot, the writing is lame, and the acting is no better. The dancing is okay, I guess, but even that feels very dates at this point.

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Naked Gun - From the Files of Police Squad - Buy from Amazon
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally a movie in the I Love the 80s line that I can recommend. Up to this point we have one marginally good movie and two wild misses.

Leslie Nielsen stars as Lt. Frank Drebin, a member of police squad who is charged with protecting the Queen while she visits Los Angeles. However, he uncovers a plot to kill her, a plot that involves one of the city's business leaders.

This movie is a real spoof made by the arguably the greatest team in the genre: David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Pat Proft. And it was made by these men during the peak of their collaboration. Of all of their films, only two of them are better than this one is: Airplane! and Top Secret! and Top Secret! is the next film on the list.

There are actually extras on this DVD, a very funny audio commentary track with David Zucker and two other men. There are a few dead spots here and there, but the track is mostly filled with information, and a lot of entertaining jokes. On the down side, you can buy all three films from the franchise in a box set for 50% more than this single DVD, which is the better deal.

Top Secret! - Buy from Amazon
In a rare comedic turn, Val Kilmer plays Nick Rivers, a singer in the style of the 1950s (think Elvis combined with The Beach Boys) who travels to East Germany as part of a cultural festival. However, well there is falls in with the resistance, and falls in love with one of the members, Hillary Flammond. Things get complicated when her former lover returns from being marooned, who sets up a plan to rescue Hillary Flammond's father, who is being held in an East German prison and is being forced to built them a weapon.

I love this movie. In fact, it could be my favorite spoof of all time, even better than Airplane! I don't think there are many people who would agree with my, but its reviews are still excellent. On a side note, I wish Val Kilmer would do more comedies, as this film and Real Genius proved he had what it takes to succeed in the genre.

Extras include an audio commentary camp with David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and more. Apparently the three men don't hold the film in as high regard as I do. There are also four deleted scenes that most fans of the movie have seen countless times on TV, as they are added into the film for television, but they are not in the original theatrical version. I wish there were an option to watch the movie with the deleted scenes included.

The I Love the 80s label re-releases a lot of films from the 80s that are lost classics, and many that deserve to remain lost. Sadly, the prices tend to be high for what you get, especially if you already have that 4-song EP. That said, this could be a good time to rent some of these.

Inside Moves - Buy from Amazon
After a failed suicide attempt leaves him partially paralyzed, Rory spends him time in a neighborhood bar. But when the bartender gets to play for the Golden State Warriors, will his success left the spirits of his patrons, or will he forget his old friends as his success grows? This film was released in theaters in 1980, but it is only making its DVD debut now. Extras are better than expected with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, and the shooting script on DVD-Rom. Worth checking out.

Jason Slasher Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three movies from the Friday the 13th franchise coming out in one DVD> Unfortunately, it's three of the worst films in that franchise.

Jon and Kate Plus Ei8ht - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
A Reality TV show about a couple who have 8 kids. Is that all it takes to get on TV these days?

Killer Movie - Buy from Amazon
I talked about this movie recently, as it was one of three films with the working title Dead of Winter that were made recently. Of those three, this one looked like the best. It's about a serial killer stalking the set of a Reality TV set; don't expect a lot of originality, but the few reviews I've read suggest it is at least an effective use of the standards of the genre.

Madagascar 2 - Escape to Africa - Buy from Amazon: DVD, DVD Two-Pack, or Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note that these movie isn't coming out today, but makes its home market debut on Friday. The screener will not be shipping till Friday, which means odds are I won't be able to review it till the week after next.

Martini Movies - Buy from Amazon: 5ive, Getting Straight, Gumshoe, Our Man Havana, and Vibes
The second wave of Martini Movies comes out this week, and I have a couple for spotlight review, starting with...

Getting Straight - Buy from Amazon
Elliott Gould stars as Harry Bailey, a university student trying to complete his degree so he can get his teachers certificate. However, he has to deal with having no cash, a difficult teacher, a car that is breaking down, relationship problems, being evicted, and of course the student uprisings of the last 1960s / early 1970s. He was once the leader of the student activists, but now he's 'sold out' and just wants to get his degree.

On a side note, your landlord is not allowed to lock your room and keep your stuff if you are behind in your rent. They need a court order to do that. I saw the same plot point in Stuck, and I find it quite annoying when a film gets these points wrong.

As for the rest of the movie, it's solidly average. Parts of it work, it feels very dated, extremely dated at time, and it is at least 30 minutes too long. It feels like it would make a good pilot for a TV sitcom, but that's about it.

Extras on the DVD include two Martini Minutes: Secrets of Deception and Secrets of Seduction. Both of these include plenty of short clips from several Martini Movies, as well as a cocktail recipe. However, they are mostly just ads for the other films.

Gumshoe - Buy from Amazon
This movie stars Albert Finney as Eddie Ginley, a man bored with his life, so he decides to pretend he is a Private Eye in the same vein as Humphrey Bogart. But soon, as in almost immediately, he is over his head. It's clear before the opening credits start that, no matter the case at hand will be, he's over his head. And it turns out the case is a deusy.

The first directorial effort by Stephen Frears, who has made a lot of very different films over the years from The Queen to High Fidelity to Dangerous Liasons. This particular film is a Film Noir Spoof that was made by people who new how to handle the subject from the witty, rapid-fire dialogue, to the sometimes superfluous narration. The movie does begin to drag in the middle when it tries to take itself too seriously, but overall it is a very enjoyable film.

Extras on the DVD include two Martini Minutes: Secrets of Seduction and How to be a Villain.

Of the five Martini Movies coming out this week, Our Man Havana is arguably the best, then 5ive, Gumshoe, Getting Straight, and finally Vibes. The top three are worth checking out for most, but with extremely limited extras, rent first.

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 10th. However, the screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Miracle at St. Anna - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
First a quick note, I only have the Blu-ray to review this week, but I will hopefully receive the DVD in time for next week's release.

The movie stars in 1983 in New York City with Hector Negron, a postal worker / veteran of World War II. One day at work a man comes up to his window asking for a 20 cent stamp. He calls him Rodolfo, and shoots him dead with a WWII era German Luger. While the cops and a reporter try and figure out what happened and why, we flashback nearly 40 years previously to when he was part of the Buffalo Soldiers trying to fight the Nazis and push their way through Italy.

Miracle at St. Anna is Spike Lee's follow-up to Inside Man, his biggest box office hit, and some might say his best non-documentary since Malcolm X, or perhaps even Do the Right Thing. It was also his first war movie, so there was a lot of interested in this film. However, it earned weak reviews and never found an audience theatrically. Now we ask, was this a tragedy, or was this the natural outcome for this movie? Sadly it's more of the latter than the former. The heart of the story, what happened in Italy during World War II was great. The beginning and end in 1980s was emotionally manipulative, overdone and completely lack any subtleties. If this part of the movie was gone, I can almost guarantee the film would have earned higher reviews and made more at the box office. It starts the film on the wrong foot, and pads its already impressive running time.

Extras on the Blu-ray start with a 17-minute discussion with Spike Lee and James McBride, who wrote the book this film was based on, as well as several black soldiers from World War II. There is also a 20-minute discussion of the real live history of Division 92, the Buffalo Soldiers. Finally, there are nine deleted scenes with a total running time of 21 minutes. That's not a lot of extras, and none push the technology, but considering its box office struggles, that more than expected.

I don't think it would have taken a whole lot to make Miracle at St. Anna a fine movie, just trimming the prologue and the epilogue would have gone a long way to solving a lot of the film's problems. It is still worth checking out, but for most the DVD or Blu-ray are only worth renting.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Volume XIV - Buy from Amazon
This 4-disc set includes Mad Monster, Manhunt In Space, Soultaker, and Final Justice. Of these four episodes, the last three rock; however, the extras are a little light after the 20th Anniversary Edition. There are two short interviews on the DVD, one with Joe Estevez from Soultaker and the other with Greydon Clark, who wrote and directed Final Justice. For fans of this series, this is a great DVD to grab. If you haven't seen this series before, this is a great place to start, but in that case rent it first.

Natalie Wood Collection - Buy from Amazon
A collection of six movies with Natalie Wood. Like most such collections, it suffers a bit from double-dips, as well as a couple films where you ask, "They included this one, but not...?" That said, there's good value for the money here and it is worth picking up for fans of the actress.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Starring two of the hottest young actors around, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist earned some of the best reviews of the fall season. The film opened with more than it cost to make earning just over $30 million in total. With such a performance so far, there's a lot to live up to on the home market, but the DVD and the Blu-ray hit it out of the park. Extras on the former include not one but two audio commentary tracks, one of which is a Telestrator track with the director, Peter Sollett, and three members of the cast: Kat Dennings, Michael Cera, and Ari Graynor. There are also deleted scenes, outtakes, interviews, featurettes on the music, music video, a puppet show with Kat Dennings... Wait. What? The Blu-ray has all of these and a pop-up trivia track, and it's BD-Live compatible with the ability to share your favorite music scenes. Additionally, while it looks great in High Definition, the music heavy movie sounds even better, and it is easily worth the price to upgrade to Blu-ray. Easily worth picking up, and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Night Court - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a great show that hit the road running and maintained a strong pace throughout most of its nine-year run. (The final year, not so much, especially the final few episodes. I remember watching the show as it was wrapping up its run and thinking it was just not the same series.) The show was starting to look more like the one everyone remembers; there were a lot of cast changes the first few seasons, but by the end of season two, they were mostly done. There are no extras on the 3-disc set, but fans will want to pick it up, and if you haven't seen the show, check it out.

Nite Tales - Buy from Amazon
Two short horror films in one hosted by Flavor Flav.

The first movie, Karma, is about a gang of bank robbers and the aftermath of a particularly brutal heist of a rural bank, they are stuck on a backwoods road with one of their own bleeding to death and looking to steal a truck from a house in order to get back to town. But they picked the wrong house to rob. There are some bad special effects in this movie, some really bad special effects, and the shaky camera moves that were there to add atmosphere were instead very distracting. The acting was over the top, the horror 'twist' was not intriguing and overall there's little to recommend here.

The second film, Storm, has a group of kids having a party in one of their houses while their parents are away. There's a massive storm so the group of three guys and two girls decide to play Bloody Mary. Shortly after that cheap scare, a clown shows up asking for shelter from the storm, but will this act of kindness cost them their lives? This film I liked. Granted, like the first movie, some of the acting was suspect and the surprise twist wasn't surprising, but it did have enough atmosphere to draw me in. Also, it had the always reliable Tony Todd (a.k.a.Candyman) in the movie.

On a side note, they could have completely stripped Flavor Flav out of the movie and it would have improved the picture considerably.

As for extras, there is a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs 18:27, but that's it. (Strangely, it is called Coming Soon.) There are also no substitles, and the DVD is non-anamorphic widescreen. Come on! Widescreen TVs are not rarities these days and you needs to take them into account when you make a movie.

The overall quality of Nite Tales is mixed, with Karma being rather weak and uninteresting, but Storm is worth checking out. Extras on the DVD are limited and overall a rental will be enough for most.

Noah's Arc - Jumping the Broom - Buy from Amazon: DVD or DVD + CD Soundtrack
Starting off where season two ended, this movie shows the lives of Noah and Wade, who are the ones jumping the broom, as well as their friends, Chance & Eddie, who are dealing with some bumps in their relationship, Ricky, who is away from his newly adopted son for the first time, and Ricky, who brought a younger man as a date, a much younger man. While Alex tries to create a perfect wedding, a lot of issues that were just below the surface start to bubble up and explode over the weekend.

When a TV makes the leap to the big screen, there are a number of obstacles it must avoid. This includes feeling like a bloated two-part episode instead of a self-contained movie. To fill out a 101 minutes of movie, too much is being done. Other times, the TV show is just not good enough to be turned into a movie. Your expectation level for TV entertainment is much lower, because you are getting it for free. (Or the marginal cost for each episode is free, as you are paying for the cable channel.) So you will be a lot more accepting of problems and weaknesses that stick out when you go to a movie theater to watch it.

Sadly, this movie suffers from both problems. Quite frankly, it feels like a soap opera, a campy soap opera, and long time readers now what I think about those shows. That said, from the research I've done, it feels similar to the TV show, so if you are a fan of that, you will likely enjoy the movie.

Extras are better than expected with 21:33 minute long making of featurette, 12:28 long collection of director's diaries, a look at the wedding photo shoot (1:46), a look at the cast photo shoot (6:14), and finally some deleted scenes. In fact, there are 11 deleted scenes with a total running time of just over 18 minutes. Given its short theatrical run, this isn't a bad collection of extras, although an audio commentary track would have been a welcome addition.

Noah's Arc - Jumping the Broom earned mixed reviews and while it started out very well, it was never able to expand wide during its short theatrical run. The DVD or the DVD + CD Soundtrack are both good deals for fans of the show, but there's little crossover appeal to be found here.

Oliver and Company - Buy from Amazon
An animated musical adventure based on the Dickens tale, Oliver Twist. Here Oliver is a small kitten who is on his own in New York City who meets up with a charismatic mutt named Dodger. Dodger, voiced by Billy Joel, is the leader of a gang of dog thieves who steal to help their owner, Fagin, pay off the debt he owes to Sykes, a ganster. However, the first heist Oliver is on goes poorly and he's 'captured' by Jenny, a cute 10-year old red headed girl who wants to keep Oliver, but Dodger and the gang to 'rescue' him. Fagin has a plan to get his money, kidnap Oliver and hold him ransom, But when Sykes gets involved, the plan becomes a lot more dangerous.

There are a lot of interesting trivia bits about this movie, including the early use of computers to assist in the animation. Also release of the film, which was released by Disney in 1988, just before the release of The Little Mermaid helped revitalize the studio. But that's not really a selling point here. "The film before the one that saved the studio!" As for the quality of the movie itself, I'm sad to say it is mixed. There's only one really catchy song (which is sung twice) and the characters and story are a little flat. That said, I like the computer assisted animation, which gives the film an interesting style. (The scene where we see Sykes limo for the first time is very cool). Also, the movie is a little darker that I remembered, especially how the bad guys get theirs in the end.

Extras on the DVD are a small improvement over the previous release. All the old extras are here starting with two songs presented in Sing-along version. There's a five and a half minute long making of featurette, a 90-second featurette on the animated animals from Disney, concept art, trailers and TV spots, and trivia. There are two short films, the Oscar-winning Lend a Paw, as well as Puss Café. The only new addition is a series of games to help prove you are fit for Dodger's gang. There are a number of very short games that go through the events of the movie, and they should entertain the kids once, but there's little replay value here.

Oliver and Company will not be remembered at one of Disney's best films, there's enough that works that is it worth checking out. However, this - DVD is not worth upgrading if you have the previous release.

The Partridge Family - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
I might be getting this DVD to review some time in the near future. But just in case I don't, I will mention that by the fourth and final season of the show, it has exhausted its meager premise and even most fans of the show will be disappointed watching the final 22 episodes.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 10th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Phineas and Ferb - The Daze of Summer - Buy from Amazon
Volume two presents ten more shorts from this Disney channel cartoon. The series stars Pineas and Ferb, as two brothers in a blended family. Every day of summer they look for a new way to spend their time, which involves building giant water parks, fight medieval battles, and more. Along the way their sister, Candace, tries to convince their mom that the two of them are up to no good.

The shorts included on this DVD are...

  • Jerk De Soleil - Bummed that the circus is cancelled due to an allergy attack, the boys, and their friends, decide to create a circus of their own. Meanwhile, Candace has her own allergy attack, which has mixed results.
  • Toy to the World - With the disappointing sales of Shimmy Jimmy toy ("He's a real wild monkey, he can swing and dance." "Better watch what he's throwing, he ain't wearing no pants.") The boys decide to invent their own two The Perry the Platypus Inaction Figure. (That idea's been taken.) Meanwhile, Candace gets a job selling these toys, and she has to dress up as one, much to her embarrassment. ("Fantastic! You look like number one." "I feel like number two."
  • A Hard Day's Knight - The family takes a vacation to England to visit their father's parents, and while they are there they learn of the tale of the black knight. So of course they decide to hold a medieval contest, with the hand of fair maiden Candace as the prize. But after getting accidentally locked in the tower, she managed to re-enact the legend of the black knight. "None shall pass!" ... Wrong black knight.
  • I, Brobot - With more blueprints, models, and schematics than time, Phineas and Ferb decide to create a robot army to do their inventing. This causes Candace major panic attack. Wouldn't you, if you were in her shoes?
  • It's a Mud, Mud, Mud, Mud World - Candace is having trouble parallel parking, so Phineas and Ferb decide to help boost her confidence, they build her a monster truck, complete with mud park in the back yard.
  • The Ballad of Badbeard - While out camping with their grandparents on their mother's side, their hear the legend of the Badbeard Lake ("Why do they call it Badbeard Lake?" "Well, it's a body of water surrounded by land.") and the pirate it is named after. While hiking, they decide to hunt for the pirate's treasure. Meanwhile, Candace accidentally comes into contact with the orange moss, which gives her a truly psychedelic trip, and she 'imagines' that Perry the Platypus is a secret agent.
  • Greece Lightning - Phineas and Ferb decide to hold a chariot race between them, Buford and Baljeet (Bulford: "Hey, you! You're going down" Baljeet: "But we're on the same team." Bulford: "Then you're going down with me.") Isabella and the Fireside Girls, and finally, there Candace, who is an unwilling participant in the race. Meanwhile, Perry is out to stop Doofenshmirtz's latest scheme, which is a plan to rid the world of all platypuses. He plans to do this by creating a giant robot version of the platypus's greatest enemy, man! ("Are those slacks new? They make you look slimmer.")
  • Leave the Busing to Us - Sick of her mother never catching on to Phineas and Ferb, Candace calls the TV show, "Bust Em!" to catch her brothers. But even the professionals are no match for Phineas and Ferb.
  • Unfair Science Fair & Unfair Science Fair Redux - Two stories set on the same day and with the same events, but two different angles. The first has Pineas and Ferb helping Baljeet build hit science fair project to avoid getting the lowest grade of his life, an A minus. His project? A portal to Mars. The second story shows what happened when Candace jumps through that portal and gets stuck on the other side.
The only extra on the DVD is The Googolplex Mall Science Fair, but this extra has three mini-games to play, which should entertain the target audience.

(On a side note, when they sing about giving a monkey a shower in the theme song, it appears they are washing an orangutan, which is an ape, not a monkey.)

Phineas and Ferb is the best Disney channel series on right now, and my third favorite Disney channel cartoon of all time. (Only Kim Possible and Filmore are better.) While I would much rather have full season sets, The Daze of Summer is still excellent value for the money and it is easily worth picking up.

Private Valentine - Blonde and Dangerous - Buy from Amazon
I've read reports that people are making fun of Jessica Simpson because of some alleged weight gain. That's not cool. If you want to make fun of her, make fun of her movie career. Her latest film was made in 2007, sat on a studio shelf for a year, and is now being dumped direct-to-DVD. I have read a few reviews for this film online, and they are not as bad as I was expecting. The general impression I get is if you are looking for some campy fun, you could do worse than this movie.

Rent - Filmed Live on Broadway - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The musical recorded live on Broadway on September 7 of last year is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. There are some featurettes and some PSAs on both, which is enough to warrant buying for fans of the musical, and renting for fans of the genre who haven't seen it so far. As for the prices, the Blu-ray costs more than 50% on Amazon right now, and that's a higher premium than I'm will to recommend for this type of released.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 6th of last month. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

The Secret Diary of a Call Girl - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Billie Piper stars as Hannah, who states in her opening voiceover that the first thing you should know about her is that she's a whore, who goes by the professional name, Belle. As she tells us why she's in this profession, the dos and don'ts of the profession, and how she keeps it from intruding on her private life. Her private life consists mostly of her best friend, Ben, who doesn't know what she does for a living. Over the course of the season, her professional and private changes including early rule-breaking on her part, Ben finding out what she does for a living, Ben wanting to join in with what she does for a living, going to the next level in her profession, and more.

This is a risky show and it demands a lot from its lead actress, and fortunately Billie Piper is up to the challenge. There is nudity in the show, but not as much as one would expect (or hope, as the case may be). For such a raunchy topic, the film is mostly about a woman dealing with changes in her relationships and career.

The extras on the DVD include a seven-minute interview with Billie Piper. As an extra this is great, as Billie Piper is as charming in real life as she is as Hannah / Belle. However, as the only extra, it is disappointing.

The Secret Diary of a Call Girl - Season One is a great show and one that I recommend watching. However, the price-per-minute is high for TV on DVD, while the extras are low. This is common for imports, and I can still recommend buying, but I can't be as enthusiastic as I would like.

The Secret Life of Bees - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film opened in just under 1600 theaters and with mixed reviews; however, it beat expectations opening with more than $10 million at the box office and ending its run at close to $40 million. The DVD has more extras than expected, including both the theatrical and extended cuts, two audio commentary tracks, making of featurette, behind-the-scenes-featurette, and more. The Blu-ray has an additional featurette, Beekeeping 101; however, it costs almost 60% more. That's too much of a premium for the upgrade.

The Singing Revolution - Buy from Amazon
After being released through its official site for a while now, you can get this documentary through Amazon. However, if you want to educator's versions, you will have to buy direct.

Space Buddies - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Here's last week's review with a quick update now that I have the DVD.

The owners of the puppies are on their way to a space facility to watch the launch of a new spaceship as part of a school trip. There are no pets allowed, but that doesn't stop these dogs from sneaking in with them, and once there, they sneak on board the ship and are off to the moon. Along the way, they meet up with a Russian cosmonaut, and his dog, who are trapped in space, they have to deal with a saboteur, and more.

Space buddies is the sequel to Snow Buddies, which was the sequel to Air Buddies, which was a sequel / spin-off to the Air Bud franchise. That series spawned five films, but only the first two managed theatrical releases. So in total, there have been eight films in this franchise, which explains why it feels so tired. Nothing happens here that isn't telegraphed a mile away. Additionally, while the plot of the film is uninspired, the characters are grating, and the acting is even worse. There are a lot of recognizable faces in this movie, and for the most part I'm not complaining about them. But some of the voice acting and the kids just drove me nuts. Granted, part of the problem is the characters themselves, as it would be nearly impossible to turn the character of B-Dawg, or his owner, into something that didn't grate on my nerves. But I'm sure they could have found someone better.

Extras are impressive for a direct-to-DVD sequel, starting with Buddy Facts, a pop-up trivia track for the movie. There is also a making of featurette / space exploration featurette that runs just shy of 13 minutes. It should entertain the kids. There are 3 minutes of bloopers, some faked, some with the puppies and other animal actors actually making mistakes. The real mistakes are funnier than the faked ones, but this is usually the case. There is also a music video for "Dancing in the Moonlight" by Alyson Stoner (from Cheaper by the Dozen, as well as Camp Rock, Phineas and Ferb, etc.) I've seen far too many Disney stars try their hand at music. Most should not, but she's definitely one of the better singers I've seen.

Extras that are exclusive to the Blu-ray include Buddy Finder, which is a game you play while watching the movie. You hunt for objects in the movie, and if you find all 100, something happens. Maybe. I don't want to watch the whole movie again to find out. Also, the disc is BD-Live enabled, but it only has the standard Disney selection (messages, Movie Rewards shopping, etc.).

This is the eighth film in the Air Bud franchise, and I wish they would stop. Space Buddies is so uninspired and unimaginative that I have a hard time imagining that kids will be that interested in the film. The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray are surprisingly strong, but even for fans of the franchise, a rental is all that is needed.

Update: The movie itself is a rather formulaic tale that should entertain young kids, but adults beware. As for the differences between the DVD and the Blu-ray, there are more than anticipated. The video and audio quality are the latter are certainly upgrades from the former, and there is one major extra not found on the

Filed under: Video Releases, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, The Secret Life of Bees, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Miracle at St. Anna, Major Movie Star