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DVD Releases for November 24th, 2009

November 23rd, 2009

It's the week before Black Friday, which is widely reported as the busiest shopping day of the year. (It's not. Christmas Eve is the busiest shopping day of the year; however, on Christmas Eve a lot of the purchases are last minute food items.) If a studio wants its product to be part of Black Friday, this is the last Tuesday they can release the DVD or Blu-ray. Because of this, I'm a little surprised the week isn't busier than it is. The biggest release of the week is Angels & Demons, while there are a couple of Christmas releases that are also selling well. However, none of those come close to being the DVD Pick of the Week. Arguably the best of the best is Funny People, which isn't the best movie coming out this week, but it is a good movie and its Blu-ray is absolutely loaded.

2009 World Series Highlights - Buy from Amazon
God, I hate the New York Yankees and I have a hard time believing there are many people outside of New York City that don't feel the same way. They outspend their nearest rival by nearly 50% and spend more than the league average by 125%. That's just too large an advantage for one team, and for me it's enough to not pay attention to the sport as a whole.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
It has been two years since the previous season was released on DVD, which is troubling, as it is twice as long as the previous gaps, which leads me to believe the studio was not happy with the sales. It's a great show and if you want seasons five through ten to come out, better grab this four-disc set now. The only extra is a featurette on the art of Hitchcock, but that is still better than a lot of shows from the same era will have on their DVD releases.

Aliens in the Attic - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Just a quick update on the previous review now that the Blu-ray has finally arrived. I won't get into a lot of detail about the plot of the movie, or the quality, but focus on what makes the Blu-ray different from the DVD. I will say the movie is worth checking out for the target audience, while there are a few jokes that are adults in the room should enjoys as well. However, the replay value is limited and I thought the DVD was only worth a rental. Now, is the Blu-ray better? Better enough to be worth buying?

All of the extras from the DVD are ported over to the Blu-ray, and almost all of them are in High Definition. (The Kung Fu Grandma pseudo-ad is the only one that isn't. No idea why since it mostly consists of clips from the movie.) New to the Blu-ray is a music video for "Electricity" by Brian Anthony, but it's only 96 seconds long, so it barely qualifies as a song. There's an episode of Fox Channel Presents Life After Film School, but that's not in High Definition. Speaking of High Definition, the video is very crisp, better than I was expecting, to be honest, as it's just a kids movie. The sound is also better than expected for a kids movie. Then again, it is a sci-fi kids movie, so maybe that's why the studio made sure the sound and video were up to higher standards. As for the price, at the moment the Blu-ray does cost close to 40% more, which is a tad high, but there are Blu-ray exclusive and almost all of the extras are in High Definition. Also, the Blu-ray includes a digital copy of the movie. I can't say the Blu-ray is definitely the better deal, but it's probably a good deal for most people.

Angels & Demons - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc Theatrical Cut, Two-Disc Extended Cut, or Blu-ray
The first film earned terrible reviews but still became of the biggest hits of 2006. This film earned better reviews, but struggled at the box office compared to the original, and more importantly, compared to its production budget. Failing to match its production budget domestically is not a good sign, but fortunately it was a much larger hit internationally. Also, due to the dedicated audience, it should do very well on the home market. Extras on the DVD include more than half-a-dozen featurettes on subjects ranging from the making of the movie, writing of the book, creating of the props, and even CERN and the real science behind it. The Blu-ray has an interactive history lesson and it is BD-Live enabled, plus it costs less than the 2-disc DVD. Also coming out as part of a giftset with bookends that is actually cheaper than these things usually are. If you are a fan of the franchise, then the movie is worth picking up and the Blu-ray is the way to go. However, even most fans of the books will not be entirely happy with the adaptation.

Beverly Hills 90210 - Season Eight - Buy from Amazon
A teenage soap opera that was long past its prime by this point in its run. Then again, I was never a fan of the show, so my opinion might be not the most reliable here.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 17th. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Bill Engvall - Aged and Confused - Buy from Amazon
The contest began on Friday and now we get to the review.

Bill Engvall is best known for being part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour along Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, and Ron White. Like Jeff Foxworthy, his comedy tends to be quite clean and there are very few bits that are even remotely risqué in this family friendly set. He discusses the problems with growing older, which includes some medical issues, as well as the need to spice up their life in the bedroom to keep a marriage going. Other topics hit are the joys of being older, which includes not having to have any tact. He also discusses dealing with an empty nest, and the last family vacation his wife planned before his house officially became an empty nest. And more. It's an excellent set with only a few jokes that don't hit their mark. He talks about the joys of being 50, and one of them is having enough experience to be really good at what you do. He's timing is great and his material is just as strong.

The only extra on the DVD is a bonus set that starts with Bill Engvall thanking the crowd and then goes into about 5 minutes of "Here's your sign" bits.

Bill Engvall - Aged and Confused is the latest stand-up concert DVD I've reviewed, and whatever slump I was in is now completely over. If you are fan of the comedian, then this DVD is worth picking up. If you are a fan of stand-up comedy in general, then it's at least a solid rental leaning towards a purchase.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Air America, Angel Heart, Angels and Demons, Angels and Demons Giftset, Blood - The Last Vampire, Cujo, Four Christmases, Frailty, Funny People, Ghost in the Shell 2.0, Gomorrah, Ichi the Killer, Ink, Megafault, The Monster Squad, My Bloody Valentine (1981), My Brilliant Career, New Police Story, Santa Buddies, Shorts, The Sopranos - Season One, Superstar, and The Way of the Gun
A fantastic selection of Blu-ray releases this week that includes selections from practically every category. There are first run releases, limited releases, catalogue titles, foreign language films, and even a TV on DVD release. On a side note, there is a glut of catalogue titles from the 1980s, many of which I am supposed to review; however, most of the screeners are late. I will get to them ASAP after they arrive.

Christmas Releases - Buy from Amazon: Christmas Unwrapped, Four Christmases, Four Christmases (Blu-ray), The Night Before Christmas... and More Classic Holiday Titles, Santa Buddies (DVD), Santa Buddies (DVD Giftset), and Santa Buddies (Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack)
Not a lot of Christmas releases this week, but two of them, Four Christmases and Santa Buddies, are selling very well.

Four Christmases - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A terrible movie that came out in theaters this time last year and became a surprise hit. Should do well on the home market thanks to its timely release; however, the DVD is devoid of extras while the Blu-ray has a couple of making of featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, etc., but costs nearly twice as much on There are better options for Christmas fare.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 3rd. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

Fraggle Rock - A Merry Fraggle Holiday - Buy from Amazon
This show has been released as full seasons, a full series Megaset, and now it is coming out in select episode, single-disc DVDs. At least it's not the other way around.

This DVD has three episode, or four if you include the one from the animated series, starting with...

  • The Bells of Fraggle Rock - It's nearing Christmas, in fact, it's December 21st, the Solstice, and in Fraggle Rock it's time for the Festival of the Bells. However, Gobo as lost the season's spirit and thinks it's all a big waste of time because his map of Fraggle Rock shows no Great Bell. But when Wembley shows him that there's a room shaped like a bell at the center of Fraggle Rock, he decides to find it and gets the rest of the Fraggles to promise not to ring their bells till he gets back. But if they don't ring their bells, the Rock will stop moving, and all of Fraggle Rock will freeze, forever.
  • The Grapes of Generosity - Gobo finds several bunches of very special grapes growing in the caves of Fraggle Rock, the Grapes of Generosity. It is said that whoever shares these grapes with his friends will become very generous. Unfortunately, they taste so good that Gobo eats them all by himself, which has a different side effect. A side effect that might prevent him from competing in the Jocks and Jockesses Picnic days activities, much to the dismay of Red, who wants to prove she is the best climber in all of Fraggle Rock.
  • The Perfect Blue Rollie - While exploring, Wembley and Boober find a cave full or rollies, rocks rolled smooth by the river. This includes a perfect blue rollie, the rarest of all the rollies. It is said you could search your entire life and never fine out. It is also said that it is the perfect gift, which is why Wembley gives it to Boober. It is expected of Boober that he will give it to another, after all, it can't be the perfect gift if you don't give it away. However, Boober decides to keep it for himself and hide it from everyone one else. Will he learn the true value of the Perfect Blue Rollie?
  • Also included on this DVD is an episode from the animated version of the show...

  • The Great Fraggle Freeze - It's wintertime in 'outer space' but the water's still warm in Fraggle Rock. But when there's a problem with the Doc's water heater and the Grogs use all the warm water, the Fraggles are left in the cold. However, the ancients Fraggles knew what do to in this situation, and so did the ancient Doozers. But when Gobo is sent on his mission with several magical items, he's unsure what the ancient rules mean, or if he has what it takes to carried them out.
The other extras on the DVD include Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Sing-A-Long, a 2-minute sneak peak for A Christmas Toy. Finally, there are two games, a Holiday trivia game, and a memory game. That's not a lot, but at least the bonus episode is for a show that has not yet been released on DVD.

Fraggle Rock - A Merry Fraggle Holiday has three episodes from the original show and another from the animated series. Only one of them is really a Christmas episode, while two of them are about the spirit of sharing and the other is about winter. Since the show has been released on a Megaset, I would stick with that, while it would be better to wait for January when the Animated Series is released on DVD.

Frailty - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Bill Paxton directorial debut, if you don't count the music video for "Fish Heads". Wait... what? Bill Paxton directed the music video for "Fish Heads"? Fish Heads, Fish Heads, rolly polly fish heads. Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up. Yumm! He directed that video? "Fish Heads" and "Game over, man." He's cool rating just shot off the chart.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Fenton Meiks, who at the beginning of the movie walks into the FBI and into Agent Wesley Doyle office and confesses that he's just buried his brother, Adam, who was the God's Hand Killer, a serial killer the FBI has been tracking for quite some time. The agent is understandably skeptical, but asks Fenton to tell him his story, which starts when he and his brother were kids. His father, a widower, worked hard and that meant Fenton helped raise Adam from a young age. One day, his father comes to his sons and says he was contacted by God and told he was given a mission: kill demons. These demons are disguised as people, but God will point out the evil to them, and they must kill them. Fenton is obviously horrified by this turn of events, but Adam becomes a true believer, and continues to carry out their father's mission, even after Fenton kills his father to save the life of another man. Now they are both adults, but estranged, and Adam's been killing 'demons' and Fenton wants to take Agent Doyle to where all of the bodies are buried, so at least the families will have closure. However, given the type of movie this is, you know it won't be as simple as that.

I've often said that a good surprise twist in a movie instantly adds replay value to the film. After it ends, you will want to watch it again to see if you can spot any of the clues. On the other hand, a bad surprise twist in a movie will make you instantly hate the film, while you contemplate writing the filmmakers demanding the 90 minutes of your life back. (Don't bother. They almost never respond and there's not much they can do to give you your time back, even if they wanted to.) Fortunately, this movie falls in the former category. It's moody, it's creepy, and it creates its scares through suspense and doesn't go the cheap route of using torture porn. From the very beginning, you know something is amiss with Fenton's story, but you'll quickly get sucked in and will pay a lot of attention trying to figure it out. The good story is aided by good performances (this might be Matthew McConaughey's best performance) while the film shows Bill Paxton has talent as a director. Solid from top to bottom.

As for the Blu-ray release, we have good news and bad news. Bad news, it's shovelware. Sad but true. Good news, the DVD release was fantastic, and this Blu-ray is loaded with extras. These start with three audio commentary tracks, the first of which has Bill Paxton doing solo duty, while there is a second solo track with the writer, Brent Hanley. Like most such solo tracks, there's not a huge amount of energy in either track. That's not to say they are dull, but I prefer it when there are more people who can bounce ideas off each other. Lots of information is given, and they are both worth checking out. The third track has Arnold Glassman, Brian Tyler, and David Kirschner, who are the editor, composer, and producer, respectively. There's more talking here and a huge amount of information as in the other tracks, but a little more energy. There is a nearly 20 minute long making of featurette, which is comprised of talking heads, clips from the movie, and behind-the-scenes footage. Anatomy of a Scene is an episode from the Sundance Channel that deals with the making of the movie, specifically the scene(s) with Fenton and Agent Doyle in the cop car as they are driving to where the bodies are buried. Finally, there are eight and a half minutes of deleted scene, with optional audio commentary with Bill Paxton. This is a great collection of extras, but they are all from the DVD, and they are all presented in Standard Definition. As for the film's High Definition presentation, it's inline with a lot of similar releases. The video is clear, as is the audio. There's also good use of the surround sound speakers, when needed. However, it's not the kind of Blu-ray that you will pop into your player to show off your home theater system. That said, for $14 it is an awesome deal.

Frailty makes its Blu-ray debut this week on what can best be described as shovelware. If you don't own the movie yet, it is worth buying. Likewise, if you own the DVD, at only $14, it is worth upgrading. In fact, I'm tempted to call it a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. If only there were some Blu-ray exclusive material here.

Funny People - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Two-Disc Unrated DVD, or Blu-ray
Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler combine forces for the first time in their careers. The result was good, but not great. At least critically it was good, but not great, with critics. At the box office it was a big disappointment. Fortunately, the DVD is loaded with extras including audio commentary track, deleted scenes, 'line-o-rama', and a lot more. The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled and has a lot of other exclusives extras. Plus, it only costs about 10% more than the two-Disc DVD, so it's the much better deal and clearly worth picking up. Maybe even a contender for DVD Pick of the Week, if you are a fan of Judd Apatow and / or Adam Sandler.

The Golden Age of Television - The Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
A three-disc collection that has more than half-a-dozen teleplays from the early days of TV. There are also several special features, including commentaries and a special booklet.

Gomorrah - The Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
I thought this was released on DVD in August, but apparently it is coming out this week. Regardless of when it comes out, it is absolutely worth owning while the Blu-ray is actually cheaper than the DVD.

Imagine That - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The latest Eddie Murphy movie isn't as bad as many of his recent efforts, but films like Norbit and Daddy Day Care have burned a lot of bridges, so many of his fans decided to stay home this time around resulting in a disastrous box office performance. Extras are better than expected with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurette, interviews and more. If you are a fan of Eddie Murphy's family films, then it is worth checking out, but a rental will be enough for most.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 17th. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - A Very Sunny Christmas - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The screener arrived one week late, at least the DVD screener arrived one week late. The Blu-ray is still M.I.A., and will likely stay that way.

For those who are now aware of the show, it follows the exploits of five people who refer to themselves as, 'The Gang' who run an Irish bar in Philadelphia called Paddy's Pub. The Gang consists of Dennis Reynolds and his twin sister Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds, their 'father' Frank Reynolds, and their two friends, Mac and Charlie. None of the five are worth jack as human beings, nor do they possess any real talent or ambition, but that doesn't stop them for holding high opinions of themselves and coming up with elaborate schemes to get what they believe they are owed.

In this direct-to-DVD special, it's Christmas Eve and The Gang are trying to celebrate; however, this turns out to be harder than it would first appear, because their lives suck. Dennis and Deandra try to get back at Frank for all of the horrible things he's done to them at Christmas. It seems every year he finds out what they really, really want as a gift, and then buys it for himself, even if that gift is a designer purse. He claims it's to teach them the true meaning of Christmas, but it is more likely he's just a jerk. After learning his former partner, Eugene, whom Frank conned and stole his company from, is not dead, they decide to pull A Christmas Carol and get Eugene to dress up as a ghost and scare him, while they show him his past, present and future. Meanwhile, Mac and Charlie are having trouble finding the Christmas spirit as well, so they relive their past childhood memories, which turn out to not be as happy as they remember them. Will the Gang be able to find their Christmas spirit in time? Or is there at least enough alcohol in the bar to help them repress the memories they've uncovered this year?

Good news, bad news time. Good news, this is a very funny special episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Bad news, it's basically a double-length episode of the show, with a few elements thrown in that they couldn't get away with, even on cable. Bad news, it's just a double-length episode, which means at roughly 44 minutes in length, there's not a lot of entertainment here for the price. If you are a fan of the show, and even if you haven't seen it before, it is certainly worth checking out. The parody of Rankin/Bass Stop-Motion animation Christmas specials like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer make it worth checking out, but there's at least a 50/50 chance it will be included on the Season Five DVD release, which will undoubtedly be a better deal.

On a side note, this special is not rated, but it would earn an R-rating. Not only are there a lot of swear words in the special, including plenty of F-Bombs, but there's a scene where one of the Gang nearly shows full frontal nudity. And it's not Sweet Dee. Or Dennis. Or Mac or Charlie.

Extras on the DVD include a making of featurette, three deleted scenes, and a sing-along. At least it says sing-along. There are no lyrics displayed on the screens, while the visuals quickly take a turn for the bizarre. In total it's just thirteen and a half minutes of extras, which is not enough given the short running time of the main program.

I don't have the Blu-ray, but I do know that it is not in High Definition, since the show is not shot in High Definition, but merely an upconverted version of the original Standard Definition release. On the one hand, this will be greatly disappointing to people who spent the extra money for the Blu-ray. On the other hand, it is only $1 more, so at least it's not too much more. I'm actually hoping this catches on with some studios. Hear me out; I don't want this to be repeated, but something similar. Imagine being able to buy Blu-ray for a TV sitcom from before High Definition was common, like Cheers, for instance, and having a full season fit on one disc. Talk about saving a lot of shelf space. And since the price of one BD-50 has dropped dramatically, and thanks to the less packaging, lower shipping costs, etc., it might actually be cheaper in the stores. Of course, this could only happen once Blu-ray has overtaken DVD as the standard, and we are at least a few years away from that.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - A Very Sunny Christmas is very funny and worth checking out. However, the show is too short and there are not enough extras on either the DVD or the Blu-ray to make it worth buying over just renting.

Janky Promoters - Buy from Amazon
Original set for a wide releases in spring, this movie was pulled from the schedule and then dumped in just a couple dozen theaters in October without any real promotion and proceeded to flop at the box office. Even with weak reviews the film will perform better on the home market, but unless you are an avid fan of Ice Cube and Mike Epps, it's worth no more than a rental.

Law & Order - Criminal Intent - Buy from Amazon
Excellent show; however, since you can watch pretty much any episode in any order, there's little need to buy the DVDs. Additionally, like most of the TV on DVD releases from the franchise, there are no extras, the value is low.

Life on Mars - Series 2 - Buy from Amazon
This is the original British TV series and not the American remake that ran for one season. Both are worth checking out, but most will agree with one is superior.

The Maiden Heist - Buy from Amazon
This movie has a great cast, but it bounced around a lot of release dates for the past year before being dumped direct-to-DVD. Add in zero reviews and it is hard to be enthusiastic about the film. This is the kind of movie that screams rental, but since it has been available as a rental at Blockbuster for about a month now, if you really wanted to rent it, you probably have.

Melrose Place - Season Five - Volume Two - Buy from Amazon
I hate soap operas in general. I hate this show in particular. I hate split season TV on DVD sets. In my mind, there's literally nothing to recommend here.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 1st of December. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Myster Science Theater 3000 - XVI - Buy from Amazon
The 16th DVD collection hits the home market in a Limited Edition box set that includes episodes from the first and last season the show was on Comedy Central, and a couple in-between, as well as mini-posters and a Tom Servo figurine. For some, the Tom Servo figurine will be enough to pick up the DVD, but for the rest, check out the featured review here.

National Lampoon Presents ROBODOC - Buy from Amazon
Every once and a while I reminded the National Lampoon went under and I'm sad, because they made a lot of great movies. Then I see a movie like this, and I'm reminded why they went under in the first place.

Reborn - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note that I should be getting this screener shortly. Hopefully it will arrive soon, as I'm running out DVDs to review. I only have one December 1st release to review, and I've already finished it, while in the past couple of weeks I've reviewed most of the ones that have arrived late.

Rock and Rule - Buy from Amazon
This movie is being re-released on DVD this week, so if you already have it, there's no need to buy it again. But if you don't have it, get it.

Santa Buddies - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack
The latest in this decade old franchise. I recently reviewed the first film, which I thought was a watchable kids movie, even for the adults watching it with their kids. On the other hand, I've reviewed several of the Buddies movies, which I thought were ... well, to be polite, less than watchable. How does this one stack up?

The movie starts at the North Pole, but there's trouble at Santa's workshop. The great Christmas icicle is melting, which is trouble, because that's where all the Christmas magic is stored and without this magic, Santa's workshop doesn't have power and he can't make and deliver all of his toys. The heart of the problem is the lack of Christmas spirit, which is something that extends to Puppy Paws, the son of Santa Paws, Santa's head dog. Sick of having to live up to his father's legacy. He goes so far as to wish Christmas would just disappear. Upon seeing Budderball in the naughty list, he decides to travel to Fernfield to meet the Air Buddies to learn how to be a regular puppy. However, it is a lot more difficult than he expects, especially after a couple run ins with the dog catcher, Stan Cruge. (By the way, Cruge rhymes with Scrooge, just to show the lack of subtly in the movie.) Will Puppy Paws learn about Christmas spirit? Will Stan Cruge learn about Christmas Spirit? Will the great Christmas icicle be saved?

If you've seen any Christmas movies like this, you'll know the answers to all of these before you even start watching the movie. This is the main fault of the movie; it's just too predictable, even for a kids movie. I've never been a fan of the Air Buddy characters, but for the most part they are supporting characters in their own movie. I'm not even sure Rosebud or B-Dawg have more than a few lines in a couple scenes in the entire movie. (On a side note, I'm glad B-Dawg was nearly cut from the movie. I can't stand that character.) I don't think this movie will maintain the audiences' attention, even for the target demographic. Older kids will squirm, while at least the adults in the room will be able to think of an excuse to leave before the Air Buddies first appear on screen. On the other hand, it's about as good as Space Buddies, but that's faint praise.

Extras on the DVD and Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack are the same an consist of three songs in 'Sing Along' mode and a music video. The high definition treatment is impressive at times. The opening shot of the magic cavern with the great Christmas icicle is... well... great, and while this level of intensity is not maintained throughout the movie, it is good for a direct-to-DVD release. The audio is likewise good for a direct-to-DVD release, but nothing spectacular. The list price for the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is only 33% more than the DVD, but right now on Amazon it costs nearly 150% more. Not an acceptable premium.

The movie is also available as part of a Plush Gift Set and a 4-Movie Box Set.

Santa Buddies is the latest direct-to-DVD release from the Air Bud franchise. If you are a fan of the previous films, this is on par with the average film in the franchise, while the DVD only costs $10.

Shorts - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A kids movie by the same director that made the Spy Kids Trilogy, which I really enjoyed. This one only earned mixed reviews, but that's still better than most kids movies manage, and since I'm a fan of the director, not to mention a large number of the cast members, I'll definitely be grabbing this one. Extras on the DVD include a couple of behind the scenes featurettes, a 10-minute film school, and a 10-minute cooking class. The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled and only costs $2 more, which makes it the much better deal.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - 2-Disc DVD - Buy from Amazon
Already came out on a Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack, which I reviewed here. That was a much better deal, so there's no reason to grab this one.

Taking Chances - Buy from Amazon
The retail version arrived this week, so this is just an update from last week's review. It is mostly identical, with just a short update on the extras found on the retail DVD.

Justin Long stars as Chase Revere, a history obsessed resident of a small town of Patriotville. The town is rapidly running out of money and unless something is done fast, they might have to declare bankruptcy. However, the mayor, Cleveland Fishback, has an idea: convince a local Indian tribe to build a casino in their town. Chase has a different idea: develop a market for historical tourism. He starts a one-man crusade, well, one man and one woman crusade to stop the development of the casino, which puts him at odds against just about everyone else in town. The only people who don't hate him are his best friend, his new girlfriend, and the Indian tribe he is fighting to stop. But will he be able to stop the tide of progress, or will the civic corruption be too much for him?

This film is typical of Indie comedies in that it relies heavily on quirky characters and strange situations and less on a solid story as the basis of the film's humor. It's not a bad movie, and there are some good performances from much of the cast, but they are not given much to work with. The central conflict doesn't seem to have much to it. The casino is to be built upon the historic battlefield that is the film's only real claim to fame up to this point. But why? We are told early on that they just lost one of their main employers after the meat packing plant shut down. There must be a lot of unused land as a result of that. Also, Chase wants to stop the Casino from being built, but he is doing this by trying to hold a vote. If everyone in the town is against him, why doesn't the mayor just hold a vote? That would seem like the easiest solution.

On a side note, Rob Corddry's character kept swearing in the movie, sort of. He used the term, 'Effing' a lot. And I don't mean he was dropping F-Bombs a lot; he would only say the letter 'F'. It struck me as terribly odd. I don't know a lot of people in real life that do that. In fact, I don't think I've every heard 'Effing' used as an explanative in real life. I've heard people say it as a way to censure themselves when quoting someone else, which is what I thought of when I heard it here. It felt like the character was being censured to avoid getting an R-rating and this made it feel less real. It was a strange quirk that made the movie feel like a movie.

One last note on the cast, there are quite a number of familiar faces in this movie, including the ones I've linked to already. But there's also Missi Pyle, who plays the mayor's wife; Robert Beltran, who plays one of the Indian tribe leaders; and Vicky Eng, who plays one of the business leaders of the town. I know what you are thinking. "Who?" She plays Vicky Wong, a.k.a. 'W' on Good Eats. I recognized her immediately, but she's not even linked to the movie on IMDb.

As for the extras on the DVD... there are none. That was anti-climatic; waiting a full week for the final retail DVD so I could update the review, but there's nothing to add.

Taking Chances is an Indie comedy with a stronger than average cast, but only an average story. It is worth checking out for fans of the genre, but without any extras on the DVD, stick with a rental.

TV on DVD - Full Series Megasets - Buy from Amazon: Hogan's Heroes, Laredo, and Superman - The Animated Series
Just the three Megasets this week. There's a chance I could be getting the first of them, Hogan's Heroes, for review, but the screener is late.


Filed under: Video Releases, Angels & Demons, Four Christmases, Funny People, Aliens in the Attic, Shorts, Imagine That, Gomorra, The Maiden Heist, Taking Chances, Santa Buddies, Janky Promoters