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Fahrenheit 9/11

Columbia Tri-Star
Movie B
Special Features C-
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

Just in time for Election Day, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's slagging of George W. Bush makes it to home video in an effort to galvanize Bush haters and convert those who remain unsure. Regardless of your political affiliation, this is a very interesting movie, offering enough material to enrage and frighten the most devout Republican or Democrat. While it seems a bit strange to take potshots at Bush for remaining calm and seated when first informed of the second plane hitting the Twin Towers, there's enough in this movie to cause serious contemplation about our nation's place in the world and President Bush's job performance. Seeing John Ashcroft performing that stupid self-penned hymn is enough to make anybody sick (something the president can surely take some blame for--why did he appoint that guy?), and the footage of our soldiers in Iraq is unsettling. I am of the ilk that believes Moore often distorts truths and arguments to achieve his agenda, but that doesn't mean his agenda is completely wrong or that his movies aren't entertaining in a provocative sort of way. You can argue that Moore's slanted filmmaking style might be hard to trust at times. That said, unedited footage of President Bush making an impassioned call for help in the War on Terror, and then inviting the press to witness his fabulous tee shot is troublesome to say the least. The film won Best Picture at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and looks to be in competition for this year's Oscars. Moore is a bit of a buffoon, but even buffoons are capable of some decent and interesting artistic expression.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Some unseen interviews and footage, with nothing as engaging as the film itself. A small featurette seems like Moore patting himself on the back emphatically for his film's massive achievements. Calm down, Michael. Go eat some donuts and a ham, and calm down.


The Ren and Stimpy Show: The First and Second Seasons Uncut

Paramount
Show A-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Last year, animator John Kricfalusi resurrected his famed cartoon featuring a dumb cat and tense Chihuahua, to little acclaim. Ren and Stimpy returned in especially disgusting form on Spike TV, in a program that seemed to forget what made the cartoon so funny when it first emerged in 1991. The classic cartoons would often take bad taste to the edge, but the new programs went for the gross-outs for their entire running times. As a result, new cartoons remain in limbo, with nobody currently willing to air them. True fans can indulge in this three-disc set of the first two, and best, seasons of the show. Because he got his start on children's network Nickelodeon, John K. had to reel in the sickness a bit to get by the censors. That made for some insanely great stuff where the focus was on the art of cartooning and not making people nauseous. Sure, the occasional snot or fart joke rang out, but most of the humor was found in the dialogue. Stimpy's Invention--in which the two characters bump asses to the tune of Happy Happy, Joy Joy--stands as one of the greater achievements in old-school animation. John K. needs to go back to the drawing board and rediscover the insanity that made this such a great work. Snot and shit jokes are funny, but they're not that funny. Note to those in charge: It would be nice to have a DVD of Ripping Friends, which John K. wrote, produced and voiced. That show, produced in 2001, is as funny as classic Ren and Stimpy.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A decent documentary on the creation of the characters and some good commentaries will satisfy diehard fans and alienate others. Seeing early conceptions of the characters is a treat.


Arrested Development: Season One

Fox Video
Show A
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

This one just won the Emmy for Best Television Comedy, and it most certainly deserved it. Jason Bateman, who hasn't really gotten a chance to shine since Silver Spoons, is dryly funny as Michael Bluth, who must watch over his criminal father's (Jeffrey Tambor) business while he's in jail. The insane family he presides over includes Jessica Walter (Play Misty for Me) as his evil mother, and the soon-to-be-legendary David Cross as his "never nude" brother-in-law (he wears denim cutoffs in the shower). The show is unorthodox, and it might be difficult to take at the start. Have patience, because continued viewing pays off and reveals one of the funnier programs on tele- vision today.

SPECIAL FEATURES: While most television shows are simply being repackaged with few special features, this DVD will make fans and newcomers happy. Audio commentaries on select episodes and behind-the-scenes features make this worth getting, even if you recorded all the shows as they were broadcast.

More by Bob Grimm

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