BLOGS

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summertime for Hitler, and The Producers.

The Producers
The Kentucky Fried Movie
It looks a little (okay, a lot) rough around the edges today, but Mel Brooks' scabrous feature film debut, The Producers -- making its high-definition debut -- is still one of the all-time classic movie comedies, if only for the immortal musical number that I shouldn't even have to name. But there's so much beyond a certain little springtime ditty to enjoy here, from Gene Wilder's delivery of "I'm hysterical and I'm wet!" to LSD's song about the power of love to the great reversal of expectations when this guaranteed bomb becomes a certified hit. Just make sure you don't accidentally order the listless movie version of The Producers musical by mistake. Less of a landmark, but highly influential in its own way, the new-to-Blu Kentucky Fried Movie is a precursor to extended sketch comedy features like Amazon Women on the Moon and the recent Movie 43, not to mention skit-based websites like Funny or Die. Helmed by John Landis and written by the ZAZ trio of David Zucker, Jim Abrams and Jerry Zucker, Kentucky's standout sketches include "A Fistful of Yen," "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble" and "That's Armageddon." It's oh-so-'70s, but also oh-so-funny.
Extras: The Producers comes with a making-of documentary, plus an additional featurette, a sketch gallery and a deleted scene. Kentucky Fried Movie includes a commentary track with Landis and the ZAZ team, a feature-length interview with the Zucker brothers and the original trailer.

Best of Warner Bros.: 20 Film Collection -- Comedy
If the one-two comic punch of The Producers and The Kentucky Fried Movie isn't enough to satisfy you going into the Fourth of July weekend, Warner Bros. has collected twenty comedy titles from its extensive library into a handy box set. Spanning some eight decades, the collection includes time-honored classics like A Night at the Opera and Bringing Up Baby alongside more recent hits like Analyze This and The Hangover. As with the rest of the 90th anniversary sets that Warner has released this year, some questionable choices abound. For example, does Ace Ventura Pet Detective really merit an inclusion in this comedy-themed time capsule? Also, the inclusion of not just one, but three Chevy Chase movies (Caddyshack, Vacation and Spies Like Us) seems like overkill. On the other hand, we don't at all question the presence of Blazing Saddles, The Philadelphia Story and... wait for it, The Goonies. Say it with us now: "Hey you guuyyyyys!"
Extras: Each of the twenty films come with extras that range from commentary tracks to deleted scenes to featurettes to vintage trailers.

6 Souls
The Girl
56 Up
The lone new releases of note this weekend, the paranormal thriller 6 Souls strands stars Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in a mostly lame scenario that casts Moore as a psychiatrist investigating the curious case of a patient with multiple personality disorder (Rhys-Meyers). Turns out those personalities may or may not be the souls of murder victims. If you can stay awake until the end to discover the "surprise" twist, you've got more courage than us. A small-scale star vehicle for an actress Hollywood has never figured out what to do with, the indie drama The Girl gives Abbie Cornish her meatiest role in some time as a single mom who embarks on a short-lived career as a border coyote, smuggling Mexican immigrants into the U.S. Following a raid by the federales, Cornish is left supervising one lone border-hopper: a little girl whose mother is missing and presumed dead. Although The Girl falls into the trap of once again chronicling the immigrant experience through a white person's eyes, the star does very good work and the final scene hits the right emotional note. If nothing else, maybe it'll remind the industry at large to employ Cornish more often. Saving the best for last, Michael Apted's 56 Up continues his essential documentary series chronicling the ever-evolving lives of a group of British men and women, who first sat before the camera in a 1964 TV special when they were 7 year olds. Those kids are now 56 and, once again, they share their hopes, dreams and regrets with Apted. (Fortunately, there are more of the former rather than the latter at this age.) 56 Up isn't necessarily the best jumping-on point for newbies, but if you've been following along all this time, it's required viewing.
Extras: Both discs are bare bones releases.
Click here to read our original review of The Girl
Click here to read our original review of 56 Up

Also on DVD:
The America Girl folks keep their lucrative line of ancillary doll-based products alive, building the direct-to-DVD An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky around a little girl who loves horses, art and hot-air balloons in equal measure. Least Among Saints casts Martin Papazian as a returning war veteran who forms an unlikely bond with a 10-year-old kid in his hometown. Just in time for Wimbledon, the authorized biographical documentary Venus and Serena chronicles the rise and continued dominance of two of the biggest names in tennis history.

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

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