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Bill and Ted's Most Excellent Collection

MGM
Movies SEE REVIEW
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor: 6.5 (out of 10)

Of the two Bill and Ted movies, it is actually the sequel, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, that has aged better. Much maligned at the time, Bogus Journey was a dark departure from the original film's cheeky innocence. Originally titled Bill and Ted Go to Hell, that's precisely what the title characters (played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) do, and the film has a tighter narrative and bigger laughs.

Don't take this as slagging on the original, for I am a fan of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. The stuff with Napoleon on a waterslide is classic. Originally, I too whined a bit when the sequel got "darker" and lost some of its predecessor's exuberant charm. Seriously, though, watch the films now, and you will see that Bogus Journey is superior. William Sadler's Grim Reaper is the single greatest performance in the two films ("They Melvined me!").

Reeves and Winter have always hinted that a third movie, with Bill and Ted in their 40s, wouldn't be totally out of the question. If it should happen, let's hope they let Winter (director of the underappreciated Freaked) take the reins. His bizarre visions would serve the most excellent duo well. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (B); Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (B+).

Special Features: The two films come packaged in a three-disc set, one entirely dedicated to decent bonus features. The movies are in their previously released forms, which is a little unfortunate, because the transfers are crappy. Alex Winter sits down for an interview for the making-of documentary, as does Steve Vai in a segment dedicated to Bill and Ted's music. An air-guitar tutorial is a little silly, and an episode from the animated TV show reminds of how much it sucked (although Winter and Reeves did provide their voices).


Scarecrow

Warner Home Video
Movie B+
Special Features D
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

A forgotten gem from the early '70s finally comes to DVD. Gene Hackman followed up The Poseidon Adventure with the role of Max, an ex-con looking to start a car wash in Pittsburgh. Al Pacino chased a little film called The Godfather with his role as Francis, Max's sidekick after they meet up hitchhiking. Essentially hobos, the two work odd jobs as they trek across the country. In trying to reach their destination, they get in a little trouble and wind up doing some time.

It's surprising that this film hasn't gotten more recognition over the years. Hackman and Pacino are phenomenal, and director Jerry Schatzberg (who would go on to direct Demi Moore in No Small Affair!) definitely had his day in the sun with this one. Hackman cites this movie as his favorite role ever, and Pacino is absolutely fearless with his character.

Special Features: Just a short featurette on the making of the movie. Watching the movie is enough of a bonus.


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Unrated Edition)

Fox Home Video
Movie B
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

A few curse words and a glimpse of a child smoking opium have been added back into the film. This is another one of those movies that claims to be unrated when it is actually somewhere along the lines of an R-rated film. If you've never seen the movie, seeing it slightly more profane is a good place to start.

Regrettably, director Rawson Marshall Thurber didn't take this opportunity to return his original, superior ending of his film to this cut. The original ending is still relegated to the disc's bonus features, listed as an alternate ending. Had Thurber's movie retained its original ending, the movie grade would be B+.

Special Features: Bonus features from the original DVD release return with a few additions. A new commentary has Vince Vaughn in hilarious form, praising his acting methods while eating chips and expressing his dislike for biscotti ("Stale bread with chocolate!"). Ben Stiller joins him late, and their belligerence forces director Rawson Marshall Thurber out of the room (Stiller repeatedly makes fun of his name). A commentary meltdown forces a switchover about midway through the film that provides a hilarious surprise.


The Sopranos: The Complete Fifth Season

HBO Video
Show A
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Season five of The Sopranos saw a terrific return to form where Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) got super mean, and one of the show's biggest characters got super dead. Steve Buscemi proved to be a worthy addition to the show as an actor (he directed season three's "Pine Barrens," where Paulie and Christopher got lost in the woods). As Tony's cousin Tony, newly released from prison and trying to go legit, the Buscemi character's downward spiral is one of the show's greatest storylines. Get this package and revisit these episodes at a leisurely pace. Season six (which might be the last) isn't coming until next March.

Special Features: The four disc set includes some audio commentaries with various episode directors and actress Drea de Matteo.

More by Bob Grimm

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