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Big Stan

HBO
Movie C+
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

I'm not a big fan of Rob Schneider movies. He's made me laugh during some of his Adam Sandler film cameos ("You can do it!"), but his starring vehicles have been flat and often tasteless. I have nothing but hatred for the Deuce Bigalow movies.

Therefore, I'm surprised that I don't hate his directorial debut, Big Stan. It was finished two years ago, but nobody was willing to give it a domestic release, so it comes straight to DVD. It's easy to see why the big studios were afraid.

Schneider plays Stan, a real-estate con artist who is arrested for fraud and sentenced to prison. His lawyer buys him six months until incarceration, so Stan gets himself a trainer (David Carradine) and sets out to become such a badass that nobody can rape him in prison.

That's right, folks: Big Stan is a movie devoted to the premise of man-on-man rape-avoidance. Seriously, how do you put that on a movie poster? Perhaps you utilize a big picture of Schneider's mug, with the caption, "Please Don't Rape Me!"

All things considered, I was surprised at how much I laughed during the first half. No, I wasn't on the floor grabbing my tummy in pain, but I did let out some significant laughs here and there. It's a pretty gutsy comedy at times, and this offers one of the more sublime performances that Schneider has given. He doesn't mug or overplay anything all that much. He's just a guy who doesn't want to get raped.

I still can't recommend it (the film goes downhill after the midpoint), but me giving a C+ to a Schneider movie is a relative rave.

Special Features: Schneider does an audio commentary, and there are a couple of lackluster featurettes.

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood

Warner
Movie B
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6.5 (out of 10)

Watchmen director Zack Snyder wanted to give fans of the graphic novel a well-rounded experience. Knowing that diehards would miss two key stories in the novel that are absent from the film, he sanctioned this side project.

Black Freighter is the animated story of a shipwreck survivor who straps the dead bodies of his comrades to a raft and tries to sail home to save his town from ghoulish pirates. The premise stems from the idea that in the Watchmen universe, where superheroes exist, kids resort to reading pirate comic books. The adaptation features some impressive animation.

Under the Hood is the name of the fake autobiography of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl. Excerpts of it are shown in the Watchmen graphic novel, and the short film for the DVD is depicted as a 60 Minutes-type of segment with the likes of Mason and Sally Jupiter (Stephen McHattie and Carla Gugino reprising their Watchmen roles) sitting down for interviews.

Special Features: A behind-the-scenes documentary and a look at the upcoming Green Lantern animated movie.

Never Say Never Again (Blu-Ray)

20th Century Fox
Movie B-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

One of the oddest films to come out of the James Bond franchise, this one brought back Sean Connery to play the role one last time in a sort of half-baked remake of Thunderball. Roger Moore actually appeared in another Bond film, Octopussy, just a few months before this movie was released. (The Moore film did better at the box office.)

Kim Basinger shows up as a Bond girl, and the film was directed by Irvin Kershner (who directed The Empire Strikes Back). This was based on the original script for Thunderball, which differed a bit from the eventual movie (which Connery also starred in). It's not the best of Bond, for sure, but it does contain an impressive sequence involving real tiger sharks. It's worth noting that Connery broke his wrist training with martial-arts consultant Steven Seagal.

Special Features: Kershner's commentary gets a little irritating in places, but his excitement is infectious, for the most part. You also get some featurettes about Connery's return and the women of the film.

Bolt (Blu-Ray and Digital Copy)

Disney
Movie B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

Nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, this tale of a TV-star dog unaware that his superpowers are not real is awfully cute. John Travolta is perfect as the voice of Bolt, who escapes from his show-set trailer and finds himself in a real adventure. Miley Cyrus voices Penny, his co-star and real-life owner, and the two do a good job bringing the characters to life. Their duet over the closing credits is charming.

Special Features: Regrettably, the film is not presented in 3-D, even though it was in theaters. Still, there's plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff, and the Blu-Ray package contains both a usual DVD and a digital copy.

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