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Little Miss Sunshine

20TH CENTURY FOX
MOVIE B+
SPECIAL FEATURES C
DVD GEEK FACTOR 6.75
(OUT OF 10)

This cute-as-heck movie offers up one of the better ensemble performances of the year. Little Abigail Breslin delivered a star-making performance as a beauty-pageant contestant traveling with her oddball family to a show (a show she and her family desecrate in one of the film's final, hilarious scenes). Breslin has one of the year's cuter moments when she orders chocolate ice cream for breakfast and must decide between the need for sweets and fat avoidance.

While Breslin is adorable, Alan Arkin almost steals the film as the antithesis of cute: a heroin-snorting grandfather with a potty mouth. Arkin gets many laughs by being a belligerent prick, but he also scores points in the sentimental zone, with some nice moments with Breslin and Greg Kinnear (playing his tight-assed son). Steve Carell takes a detour from pure comedic roles with his turn as a suicidal scholar devastated after one of his students rejects him. Paul Dano is also very good as the antisocial brother who has taken a vow of silence.

This is another film where Kinnear's contribution is underappreciated. The guy is a fine actor, and he winds up anchoring most of the films he is in. This one is no exception.

There is a lot of slapstick, including a running gag involving the family van (it has a dead clutch, so they have to do the running-start bit a lot). The final dance number is a classic. This movie has an offbeat charm that not many films are able to obtain.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's a directors' commentary, and at least one of the two directors seems like she'd rather be doing a crossword puzzle. The DVD also includes alternate endings that were justifiably deleted.

A Scanner Darkly

WARNER HOME VIDEO
MOVIE A-
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
DVD GEEK FACTOR 8
(OUT OF 10)

Richard Linklater's film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's twisted novel was cool on the big screen, but as it turns out, the best way to view this puppy is on a high-definition TV. The film pops off the screen, giving new life to the rotoscope animation.

Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop who goes a little too deep with drugs. Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder all co-star. The actors basically filmed a movie, and then their work was painted over by animators. This isn't one of those cartoons where they logged a couple of hours in a sound studio and took off--their performances are real. While the film has an intricate plot, its message is pretty simple in the end: Drugs destroy lives. Dick apparently saw a few people fall apart under their influence.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A commentary with Linklater and, yes, Reeves, who is actually really funny with his observations. A well-done making-of documentary makes this worth taking in.

Jackass Number Two

PARAMOUNT HOME VIDEO
MOVIE B-
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 7
(OUT OF 10)

I had a few problems watching this film because, as I've stated before, I'm not fond of people shitting on screen. And, mark my word, people do shit in this movie. They also drink horse semen, puke their guts out and shove all sorts of things into every orifice.

While many of the bodily fluid antics make me sick, I have to give it up for a movie in which Johnny Knoxville puts on a blindfold and allows a bull to gore him. He also gets on a rocket and rides it into the air, even though a malfunction on the first try shot a projectile that could've killed him.

Knoxville said Jackass was over with the first film, and he lied. I hope they make more, but I certainly hope they don't see a need to top their shit play. No more shitting ... please!

SPECIAL FEATURES: If the constant vomit and poo shots in the theatrical release had you gagging, watch out, because a vast array of outtakes, deleted scenes and extended sequences contain much more having to do with bodily functions. Steve-O has a vomiting spell that sets some sort of records for volume and projectile distance. The cast commentary is great.

Six Feet Under: The Complete Series

HBO
SHOW A-
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 8
(OUT OF 10)

If you are like me, you don't watch very much television, even if you did get the super-deluxe package with all the bitchin' cable channels, primarily because you couldn't resist the sultry voice of the representative when you called to cancel your service. I pay more than $100 a month, and I probably watch a half-hour a month!

I never, ever watched this show during its original run--until the final episode. That episode blew me away on many levels, and I pledged to go back and watch this drama about a family and their funeral home. I'm not done yet, but I'm enjoying it. I reckon I'll finish watching all of the episodes somewhere in the year 2010.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Each season of the show is contained in a very cool gift box that has grass on top. There are no new features, but you get everything that appeared on the single-season versions--which is great if you don't own any of them.

More by Bob Grimm

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