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The Ten

City Lights
Movie C-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 4.5 (out of 10)

Of all the 2007 releases, this one was probably the most disappointing to me. It's not the worst movie, by far, and it does have some great moments, but this is a supreme letdown considering the talent that was involved.

The setup of this film--directed by David Wain of The State and Stella--has the normally hilarious Paul Rudd as a narrator, standing in front of two tablets displaying the Ten Commandments. Rudd, who just isn't that funny here, introduces 10 segments based on the commandments, and most of them are a drag. Winona Ryder has some good moments as a woman obsessed with a ventriloquist's dummy, and Ken Marino is funny as a doctor who leaves scissors in a patient as "a goof." He winds up in prison, where he is also the surprise subject of another commandment.

It's a sad state of affairs when Jessica Alba is the funniest person in your movie. She is actually quite humorous as Rudd's young mistress, who implores her beau to buy her a pony. Wain's fellow Stella partners, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter, are featured in small walk-on roles, but they're really given nothing to do. This film needs more Showalter!

Wain strikes out, but this is still better than most comedy films. This effort doesn't have the lasting comic power of his previous film, the brilliant Wet Hot American Summer. I recall not being crazy about Summer the first time I saw it, but it grew on me with repeated viewings. I don't think The Ten will have the same growing effect on me in the future.

If you are a Wain fan, as I am, visit his online show. Go to Mydamnchannel.com and click on "The David Wain Channel" for 18 episodes of Wainy Days, a hilarious look at David's fictional life. Episode 16, starring Paul Rudd as Alias, is a must-see. This Internet comedy is the sort of excellence I expect from Wain.

The Ten is just a minor misfire. Wain has more films in the works, and I'm confident he'll make a comeback with one of them. He's too funny to be unfunny for long, if that makes any sense.

Special Features: The deleted scenes here are as unfunny as the film itself. The commentary, which features Wain and his parents, is probably the best thing about the DVD. In the end, I recommend you pick up the Stella and Wet Hot American Summer DVDs, and forget about this one.


Hatchet

Lionsgate
Movie B-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

Hatchet was billed as a return to old-school American horror, and that's an accurate statement if you consider The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Evil Dead to be classics. If you are more into, say, the original Dracula and Frankenstein, this might not be for you.

A group of tourists in New Orleans go on a haunted swamp ride and eventually encounter Victor Crowley (horror-icon Kane Hodder) who utilizes the title tool as his weapon of choice. Goofy humor is mixed with splatter gore that is some of the best on-screen carnage I've seen in some time. People get chopped in half--starting at the collarbone--and one is dispatched with a belt sander. The best killing would be when Crowley puts his hands in a screaming woman's mouth and tears her head in half. If you like your gore messy, this is for you.

If you don't like gore, stay far, far away. The film is no classic, but the cast makes it fun enough. Joel Moore offers a good mix of comedy and sympathy as Ben, the down-in-the-dumps leader of the party. Deon Richmond (a kid from The Cosby Show) has grown into a funny comic actor, and Parry Shen gets some good laughs as the tour host.

Special Features: Writer-director Adam Green loves the living shit out of his movie, as you can tell in the commentary and interviews. It gets a little annoying after a while. The behind-the-scenes stuff shows that the cast and crew had a damn good time making this. There's a preview of another film Green did with Moore that doesn't look very promising.


Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest

20th Century Fox
Show B+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

While I've never been a huge fan of this show, I must admit that this Star Wars spoof is an impressive feat. This is a faithful retelling of the story with a Family Guy spin--plus the full cooperation of George Lucas--and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

The animation is quite good, often looking like animators just painted over shots from the original film. Gags involving the death of composer John Williams, Chevy Chase and Darth Vader crapping his pants are all good. I especially liked a sequence in which Han Solo (played in the spoof by Family Guy patriarch Peter Griffin) decides to steal a used couch from the infamous trash compactor.

Special Features: A commentary, some decent behind-the-scenes stuff and a great interview with George Lucas make this a good package.

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