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Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Volume 2

Warner Brothers
Shorts A
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 9.5 (out of 10)

Last year's first installment of classic Warner Brothers cartoon shorts was easily one of the year's best DVD packages, and volume two picks up where that one left off. It's super-loaded with 60 vintage cartoons, featuring plenty of Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and Sylvester/Tweety shorts to keep cartoon junkies fixed. One disc is dedicated to Hollywood parodies and more, and this is where you'll find the classic "I Like to Singa," featuring a baby owl who favors jazz singing over opera. The sixty shorts for you to get your Bugs Bunny fix on are just the beginning.

Special Features: The special features are bountiful, including commentaries and featurettes profiling specific cartoons. There are opening sequences for four of the Looney Tunes TV shows--including the one with Bugs and Daffy in top hat and tails--plus varieties from the vaults, the original Road Runner pilot and much more. Cartoon nuts will lose their minds on this one.


Iron Giant: Special Edition

Warner Brothers
Movie A+
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Writer-director Brad Bird is currently enjoying massive success with The Incredibles, one of cinematic history's all-time great animation achievements. Well, that makes two for Brad, because this one about Hogarth and his giant alien robot is an all time classic. Utilizing old-style, retro animation, this one stands alongside the best of Disney's classic era works, not to mention the best of Warner Brothers. As with his current Incredibles, Bird and his team have a knack for creating animated characters that are endearing, engaging and real. When the Iron Giant takes to the skies and exclaims "Superman!" it's as good as animated movies get.

One regret: None of Pete Townshend's terrific Iron Man album, based on the same Ted Hughes story, makes it onto the soundtrack.

Special Features: This second shot at the Iron Giant on DVD is better, but perhaps a little clunky in spots. A segment on Vin Diesel's voice work as the robot is quite stale, and the menus are surprisingly dull. Still, there is much to cherish, including a feature that allows you to click on an icon and watch behind-the-scenes features as the movie plays. Bird and company provide an engaging commentary, and there's a slew of interesting additional scenes, shown in rough sketches and black-and-white.


Elf

New Line Home Entertainment
Movie A-
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 8.5 (out of 10)

It took a while for this one to finally get its due on DVD, and it is worth the wait. Will Ferrell cemented his status as the funniest, albeit strangest, comedian in films today, and he scored one for former SNL stars. As Buddy, a large human raised as an elf at the North Pole, Ferrell is probably the only man alive who could truly pull this role off. Walking around Manhattan in full elf regalia in search of his long lost dad (James Caan), Ferrell is unspeakably funny. Just in time for Christmas, this is now required holiday viewing, joining the ranks of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Other benefits: Bob Newhart's droll self as Ferrell's surrogate elfin dad, and Zooey Deschanel singing.

Special Features: This is part of the New Line Infinifilm series, so that means a ton o' stuff for DVD freaks. Infinifilm allows you to click on an icon and view special features (much like the above Iron Giant DVD, but better). Other features include elf karaoke and a bunch of elf games. This package has two discs, featuring widescreen and full-screen presentations. This is a must-have.


'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' and 'Dazed and Confused': Ultimate Party Collection

Universal Studios
Movies A-
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

Owning both of these films in one purchase is not only a good thing, but highly appropriate. These are the ultimate stoner comedies (Cheech and Chong can go to hell!), with Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli being king of the dunderheads. It's amazing how much talent was involved in both of these films (a combined viewing can spot the likes of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Milla Jovovich, Nicolas Cage and Ben Affleck, to name a few). Fast Times hasn't aged well as a whole, but it still contains sequences that are priceless (Penn screaming "Oh gnarly!" when that heart comes out of the cadaver will always be funny). Dazed and Confused will probably go down as the better of the two in years to come.

Special Features: Not all that impressive. Dazed is thin on extras, although the Institutional Film Strips on the dangers of partying are pretty funny. Fast Times has a little more to offer, although most of its features can be found on the original DVD release from a few years ago.

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