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DVD Releases for April 11, 2006

April 10th, 2006

It's a slow week for DVD releases, and next week looks even slower. After searching hard for a hidden gem, there's nothing here I would deem a must have, and none rate as a DVD "Pick of the Week." The Newsroom - The Complete Third Season tops this week's list, and even then I'd recommend you go back and buy the First Season.

18 Fingers of Death! - Buy from Amazon
A mockumentary of Wire Fu movies. There are plenty of targets for the film to hit, but it is instead filled with misses. It is only worth a rental if you are a hardcore fan of either genre, otherwise it is best skipped.

Barry Manilow - Music and Passion - Buy from Amazon
Filmed at the Las Vegas Hilton, this show celebrates the 100th performance of Barry Manilow's hit show. In addition to Barry Manilow's greatest hits like Copacabana, Mandy, and others, the DVD features behind-the-scenes, interviews, making of featurette and more. Yes, this DVD did come out a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to mention it then. Also, it is one of the featured prizes on this week's box office prediction contest.

The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
"Hi, Bob." Bob Newhart is the master of the deadpan delivery and this series proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt, although looking back it didn't earn the amount of awards or nominations I would have thought. In fact, Bob Newhart has never won an Emmy and only has one Golden Globe to his credit. Shocking. Back to the show, this 3-disc set contains all 24 episodes as well as audio commentary tracks on three of them and a making of featurette. This is much better than one would expect given the age of the show and is easily worth picking up.

Bratz: Genie Magic - Buy from Amazon
Direct-to-DVD movies based on the popular dolls. These movies are really bad, but are still popular among their target audience.

Bugsy Malone - Buy from Amazon
A kids movie about notorious mobster starring Scott Baio and Jodie Foster and a bunch of other kid actors. Oh yeah, did I mention it's a musical? What the hell? This sounds like a total disaster, but it earned great reviews when it first came out and was even nominated for an Oscar and a few Golden Globes. It's a crazy enough idea that it's worth a rental, but I can't recommend picking it up blind.

Cirque Du Soleil - Corteo - Buy from Amazon
If you are fans of Cirque Du Soleil, there's really nothing I need to say about their latest theatrical production. If you've never seen Cirque Du Soleil perform, this is a good place to start. Included on the disc are several extras including a making of featurette, behind the scenes, and more.

The Dark - Buy from Amazon
Typical ghost story that is effective, for the most part, but there's not enough here that would require repeat viewing. And with only an alternate ending for a special feature, it can't rate past a rental.

Dave Attell Insomniac Tour Presents: Sean Rouse, Greg Giraldo & Dane Cook - Buy from Amazon
90 minutes of stand up comedy from three relative newcomers. Of the three, Dane Cook is the most well known and the funniest. However, the raunchy material lacks replay value and with just 10 minutes of extras, the DVD doesn't rate more than a rental.

David Spade - Take the Hit - Buy from Amazon
David Spade's first solo HBO special, and he's at the top of his game here. It's worth checking out, but the lack of special features / replay value limit it to a rental.

Deep Blue - Buy from Amazon
The lesser of two Penguin documentaries. And as such, I have a hard time recommending this film over the other. On the other hand, it isn't a bad film and the nearly hour-long making of featurette accompanies the film very well. Call it a rental.

Ellie Parker - Buy from Amazon
Naomi Watts stars as the titular character, a struggling actress looking to start her Hollywood career. Too many inside jokes torpedos what could have been an effective mockumentary. However, with more extras than you normally see on a limited release DVD (audio commentary and deleted / extended / alternate scenes), it's worth a rental.

The Fantastic World of M. C. Escher - Buy from Amazon
Maurits Cornelis Escher, a.k.a. M. C. Escher is one of the most recognizable artist of all time. Anyone who has marveled at the man's mathematically influence artwork would likely really enjoy this documentary, but in the end you'll will want a more in-depth look and the lack of special features further reduces its value. It would say it's worth picking up, but it's a close call.

Farscape - Starburst Edition - Season 3 - Collection 3 - Buy from Amazon
On the one hand, I really like that this series is getting such great treatment on DVD. On the other hand, TV on DVD is just too expensive to justify double-dips.

Fun With Dick & Jane - Buy from Amazon: DVD and UMD Mini
Easily the biggest movie on this week's charts, but unfortunately, this remake isn't even close to the best. Given the amount of corporate malfeasance that has occurred lately, this should have been a biting satire on how those that steal a few hundred dollars are treated worse than those who steal a few hundred million dollars. But the filmmakers lacked the spine to really skewer their targets and what it left is not worth the price of admission. The special features are not bad on the surface with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, two gag reels (one from the movie and the other from the press junket), and more. But even here it doesn't live up to its potential. Fans of Jim Carrey will probably want to give it a rental, the rest should skip it.

The Greatest Game Ever Played - Buy from Amazon
As far as golf movies go, this one is pretty good. The fact of the matter is, golf is a boring sport to watch and it is hard to make a movie about the sport that isn't equally boring. There are more special features than I would have expected with two audio commentary tracks and featurettes on the set, the history and even a vintage interview from the real Francis Ouimet. Overall it's a pleasant enough film and the DVD is a solid rental with maybe a slight leaning to a buy rating.

In Living Color - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
This is a good show, but I've been disappointed with the DVD releases as there has been way too many musical substitutions due to music licensing issues. Also, this is the final season of the series and most of the regulars left at this point so there was a huge drop-off in quality. Unless you are a completist, I would skip this 3-disc set.

Laurel and Hardy Giftset - Buy from Amazon
Laurel and Hardy were one of the greatest comedy duos ever, however, this box set contains three of their weakest films. On the other hand, each disc has an audio commentary and one more extra, (usually newreel footage), which adds to the value. But in the end, it's only for Laurel and Hardy completists while the rest can skip it.

Little Fish - Buy from Amazon
The film earned moderate success in its native Australia but never found an audience here. This is a shame since the film is very well done and worth checking out. However, the lack of special features reduces its value to the rental level.

The Merv Griffin Show - 40 of the Most Interesting People of Our Time - Buy from Amazon
Like all Best of TV on DVD releases, this 3-disc set is generating some debate on whether the people included really deserve to be part of the 40 most interesting people. And this is why I don't like Best of releases, because no two people will agree what is the best. However, with a total running time of about f months, this show will never get full season sets, so we are stuck with Best of releases.

Mission Impossible - Double Shot - Buy from Amazon: Mission Impossible and Mission Impossible
With the latest film in this franchise just around the corner, there's no better time to re-release the first two movies on Special Edition DVDs. Mission Impossible was a pretty good movie, but a rather poor adaptation. Mission Impossible II started out okay, but quickly wore out its welcome. Add in a 2-disc set that doesn't live up to the Special Collection Edition label, (I swear they could have fit it all on one disc), and this DVD feels like a cash grab. Also coming out tomorrow is the Collector's Set, which contains the both movies, but it isn't worth picking up either.

The Newsroom - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian series that takes a behind-the-scenes look at a dysfunctional newsroom. This 2-disc set contains all 6 episodes from the third and final season plus bonuses, which not even the official site will reveal. Definitely worth picking up.

NHL Triple Shot - Buy from Amazon: Greatest Goals, Masked Men. and Overtime
The NHL is coming off a strike-cancelled season but something terribly weird has happened, the league came back stronger. When there was a baseball strike, it took years for the league to recover, but some rule changes and some smart advertising and the NHL shows almost no effect from the lockout. Granted, just before the labor troubles, Hockey's popularity in the States was at a all time low so it's not like there was much lower it could go. This week three DVDs come out, each with a running time of about 45 to 50 minutes, but even with a low price, they don't present enough bang for the buck.

The Scorned - Buy from Amazon
A made for TV horror film starring a bunch or Realty TV, 'stars.' It's even worse that you imagine and is so bad it could single-handedly bring back MST3K.

Spymate - Buy from Amazon
I have very few hard rules about movies. One of them is, if there's a monkey playing the lead, then it's going to be a terrible movie. This movie is no exception to that rule, in fact, it is awful compared to other movies in that genre. Add in weak special features and this is a DVD best skipped.

An Unfinished Life - Buy from Amazon
Busted Oscar bait. It's clear that the film was made to win awards, but its reviews were nowhere near strong enough to do that. It wasn't artistic enough to win awards, it wasn't commercial enough to find a wide audience, and the DVD isn't packed enough to overcome either of those. It's a rental at the most.

Walt Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites - Buy from Amazon: Volume 10 - Best Pals Mickey and Minnie, Volume 11 - Best Pals Donald and Daisy and Volume 12 - Best Pals - Mickey and Pluto
I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, the only studio that knows what they are doing when it comes to cartoon releases is the WB. The target audience for these shorts are adult collectors who want special features especially those that discuss the historical importance of these films. To add insult to injury, the lack of special features is compounded by terrible amounts of double dipping. Skip it.

Wolf Creek - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Version or Theatrical Version
Out of all the recent trends in movies that have come out recently, probably my least favorite is the string of sadistic horror films. This is just one in a series of such films and the torrent doesn't seem to be letting up. Lets face it, it takes little talent or money to make these films. They don't require witty dialogue, realistic characters, strong acting, etc. All they require is a good special effects team and a willingness to show more than the last film did. And with a history that stretches back 40 years or so, there should be no trouble finding either. In the end, the reviews were just average and so is the DVD. That won't stop the fans of the film from picking it up, but I certainly can't recommend it to anyone.

Woman Thou Art Loosed - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A low budget film aimed at a niche market, this film did about as well as one could expect but in the end was just far to preachy to find a mainstream audience. The Special Edition is a step up from the previous release, but not by enough to be worth the upgrade.


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Filed under: Video Releases, Fun With Dick And Jane, Wolf Creek, The Greatest Game Ever Played, An Unfinished Life, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Ellie Parker, Little Fish