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The Big Lebowski: 2-Disc 10th Anniversary Edition

Universal
Movie A
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Released after the critical success of Fargo 10 years ago, the Coen brothers' zany classic has gotten yet another DVD treatment. I instantly thought that this would one day be regarded as a classic--or at least the best bowling movie ever made. It's definitely up there.

Jeff Bridges got one of his greatest roles as The Dude, an aging stoner who finds himself wrapped up in a kidnapping caper involving Tara Reid, of all people. Coen regulars Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and John Goodman were along for the ride. Goodman's performance as a psycho veteran with a vulgar mouth and anger issues is brilliance. When he pulls a gun on Jimmie Dale Gilmore for going over the bowling line, it's Goodman at his best.

The movie was funny then, and it's even funnier now. Each time I see it, I laugh more, something that often happens with Coen movies: You pick up on stuff you didn't see before. It's also worth noting that it featured Philip Seymour Hoffman in an early, and very funny, role. Hoffman did this a mere two years after making an ass of himself as the crazy fat guy in Twister. It represented a major upturn in his career, although his appearance in Patch Adams, also in 1998, was a bit counterproductive.

The Coen brothers are set for a new release, Burn After Reading, coming up this Sept. 12, following the award-winning No Country for Old Men. The film looks like the Coens are again in an oddball-comedy mode. I'm expecting great things.

Special Features: This edition comes a mere three years after the last DVD. I complained in my 2005 DVD review that the release lacked features on the movie's cult status, something we get, sort of, with the new edition. There are even some excerpts from a documentary covering a Lebowski convention in Vegas. The best new feature would be The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later, where the likes of Bridges, Buscemi, Turturro, Goodman and Julianne Moore sit down to reminisce. Bridges admits that he watches the film when it comes on TV, while Turturro concedes that it took a while for him to like it. It's a film deserving of a good look back, and the stars provide it. There's also a bunch of stuff from prior releases, including a Coen brothers interview and a very strange introduction to the film. Regrettably, Lebowski is not available on Blu-Ray yet. While I'm always happy to see new stuff associated with this movie (love the action figures!), perhaps they could've done something a little more special and waited for a high-definition release.


Jack Ryan movies on Blu-Ray

Paramount
Movies: The Hunt for Red October (A), Patriot Games (A-), Clear and Present Danger (B), The Sum of All Fears (B-)
Special Features: October and Fears (B-), Games and Danger (C-)
DVD Geek Factor average 7.275 (out of 10)

As Paramount continues to roll out classics in hi-def, I would like to take this opportunity to admit something: While I love me some Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin was, and still is, the best Jack Ryan. The Hunt for Red October, with Sean Connery as the crotchety Russian submarine captain, remains the best, and Baldwin was total kick-ass as Ryan. Seriously, I think they should bring him back, even if he is chunkier now.

Ford did OK against Irish terrorists in Patriot Games, and against the president of the United States in Danger, although that one got a little farfetched. Ben Affleck wasn't half bad in The Sum of All Fears, but the franchise fell victim to the Affleck backlash, and we haven't seen a Ryan film since.

Special Features: October and Fears have commentaries and cast interviews; the others just have interviews.


The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2 Disc Collector's Edition

Disney
Movie A
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 9.5 (out of 10)

When I got this one in the mail, I took a look in my collection and was astonished to discover that I didn't yet have Tim Burton's masterpiece on DVD--so Nightmare on DVD is all new to me.

The story of Jack Skellington is a bona fide classic, and it looks incredible on DVD. Alas, I watched a standard version, but I fully plan to go out and purchase this one on Blu-Ray. It will be worth the money.

I saw this last year in 3-D. Sadly, there is no 3-D DVD yet. Perhaps that will come a few years down the road. If they can do it for Hannah Montana, they can do it for Skellington.

Special Features: This is loaded with features old and new; deleted scenes, a new Burton commentary and Burton films Frankenweenie and Vincent are contained herein. There's a wonderful tour of Disney's Haunted Mansion, which is transformed into Jack's Haunted Mansion at Disneyland during the holidays. I went on this ride last year, and I can tell you that it is very cool.

More by Bob Grimm

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