THIS WEEK IN DVD’S – Dec 27, 2007
Jackass 2.5 (Paramount)
God damn it’s fun to watch grown men act like imbeciles (well, even more than normal). A few of you may poo-poo the fart- and pee-heavy antics of Jackass 2.5 (Paramount) on mere principal – if someone doesn’t think it’s okay for people to snort little bugs through their noses, then barf them back out, that’s all right: This is AMERICA, after all – but even though this short release is a far cry from the first two films of the franchise, there’s more than enough tomfoolery here to keep fellow dumb-asses intrigued. But don’t stop at just the movie here: The bonus segments contain acts that are often even funnier than those in the main event.
The Rocky Complete Saga Collection (MGM)
That being said, though, sometimes it can be a pain watching grown men act like imbeciles, and while this writer is definitely of an age where the first few Rocky movies are bona fide classics (at least they were on the schoolyard), The Rocky Complete Saga Collection (MGM) contains as many cringe-inducing dull dialogue exchanges as it does passionate sport drama. Rocky V is an absolute travesty of a film, but the real wonder of wonders is that somehow Rocky Balboa is even worse: Not even the mighty Milo Ventimiglia of Gilmore Girls and Heroes fame (as Sylvester Stallone’s son) can jump-start the movie. And as far as bonus features go, there is a fascinating alternate ending to experience – let’s just say that it’s exactly the opposite of what the film’s actual climax entails. Yikes.
The Simpsons Movie (Fox)
But then there’s The Simpsons Movie (Fox) on Blu-ray to leverage everything out. This high-def release allows the film to retain a certain cinematic sheen, but on a TV set, the film plays as it was supposed to: As an extended episode. What was disappointing and sometimes dragging about the film in a theatre makes for a fantastic potty/snack break at home, and the copious bonus features included (commentaries, deleted scenes, etc. – all with similar quality and eye for detail as the show’s season-long DVD releases) flush out the experience grandly. And if you have the capacity, grab the Blu-ray edition: Who knew “Spider-Pig” played so well on high-def?
The Heartbreak Kid (DreamWorks)
Then we come to a truly perplexing double-feature: On Wednesday of this past week, your buddy Mike sat down to first watch the new DVD edition of Braveheart (Fox), then followed it up with the new Farrelly Brothers movie, The Heartbreak Kid (DreamWorks). It’s nice to see that Fox gave Braveheart a new transfer – the 2.35:1 anamorphic presentation of the picture here is very nice, if not exceptional, and there are copious bonus features to mention (though the two featurettes included on the film’s first DVD release have been excised from this edition). The Heartbreak Kid, though, is enough to make even the most delirious comedy fan cry ‘uncle’. This crap-tastic exercise in half-baked plot concerns and thin humor that is packaged on all fronts as a ‘reunion’ of sorts between Ben Stiller and The Farrellys could very well be the worst comedy of the year. I’d like to see Mel Gibson and his soldiers fight against the cast and crew of The Heartbreak Kid. Now there’s a film.
Arctic Tale (Paramount)
Arctic Tale (Paramount) has all the elements that made March of the Penguins such a monstrous box office hit, but it really doesn’t engage the way those poor damned penguins did. First of all, the tone of the film is surprisingly childish, which – surprisingly – works against the picture. When the young walrus at the center of the film is shown with her herd, the film pumps out a few bars of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”. Yeah. And to add insult to injury, the transfer on the HD DVD edition of the film isn’t exceptional. Perhaps this is more due to the constraints of the film’s actual production than this disc’s technical prowess, but I’d say you’re better off with the DVD edition – at least that way your daughter can watch it in the car on the way to grandma’s. Just make sure you pack that Sister Sledge CD for the trip.
Looking fantastic on HD DVD, however, is Stardust (Paramount). This Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle still has its dumb parts – the way the bad guy gets it at the end of the film is…dumb – but on high-def, the film’s more fantastical qualities get to take center stage, and the film’s all the better for it. Darker scenes play exceptionally well – watching Claire Danes fall to Earth from the night sky toward the film’s beginning is a real wonder: The increased resolution on this HD DVD disc really makes the imagery pop. This pristine presentation, alas, can’t save the film for itself – does anyone really want to see Robert DeNiro cross-dress in high-def? – but for fantasy nerds with HD DVD players, this is an easy recommendation.