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Peter Gabriel: Growing Up on Tour--A Family Portrait

Real World
Movie C-
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

Peter Gabriel made his 2002 Growing Up tour, his first time out on the road in 10 years, somewhat of a family affair. Daughter Melanie Gabriel took the female backing-vocal role, a post held by the likes of Paula Cole in the past. He brought along another daughter, Anna, who filmed daddy at work and put together this so-so movie. While it's somewhat engaging to watch, it really is just a glorified home movie, and this sort of thing is for fans only. It's a bunch of backstage and rehearsal footage strung together in an attempt at some sort of concept movie. It winds up feeling like something that should've been nothing more than a special feature on the concert DVD that came out in 2003. That DVD would be a much better purchase.

Special Features: The Making of the Barry Williams Show shows director Sean Penn behind the scenes making a video for the first single off of Gabriel's Up album (the video is on the disc as well). Penn put together an interesting satire of Jerry Springer-type television shows, but the song itself represents Gabriel at his worst, rendering the actual video of little interest. The Newport International Film Festival feature winds up being the best thing on the disc, because it captures portions of Gabriel performing songs like "Father and Son" and "In Your Eyes" on piano.

The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons Three and a Half-ish

Paramount Home Video
Show C
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 3 (out of 10)

Even though Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi created what was essentially Nickelodeon's greatest hit in the early '90s, they constantly gave him crap about his show. It was too gross for kids; the themes and language were more appropriate for adults; and John K. simply took too long to finish his product. This eventually resulted in the program being taken away from its creator, much to the dismay of fans who had no problem giving John K. the time he needed to turn out cartoons he was proud of. The third season of the show saw a tremendous drop-off, not so much in the writing (many of John K.'s ideas were still present in the show) but in the animation. Ren & Stimpy lost its classic cartoon look, taking on the appearance of something a computer churned out. As former John K. protégé Bob Camp got more control, the stories became weaker, and the show died soon thereafter.

John K. was recently given a chance at past glory by returning to the Ren & Stimpy franchise with Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon. The result was disastrous. The original show was funny because it flirted with bad taste, but the new version was all about the gross-out, something it accomplished often. It appears that Ren & Stimpy are gone forever.

Special Features: John K. sits down to critique the cartoons he didn't have anything to do with, and that's an interesting twist.

American Psycho: Killer Collector's Edition

Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Movie A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

When I finished reading American Psycho in the early '90s, I tore the book in half and chucked it in the trash where it belonged. Not because I was some sort of moralist who thought a satire about a cold-blooded killer going unnoticed in the '80s was wrong; I just thought it was the worst-written piece of shit I'd ever wasted my time on, and I stand by that criticism. Bret Easton Ellis writes with all the literary prowess of a C+ eighth-grade student. His idea was OK, but the execution was bush league.

Director Mary Harron took that good idea and made a great movie out of it. The evil and unabashed goofiness of the '80s come across in what works out to be a great satire. Hell, it pretty much works as a hilarious spoof of Ellis' crap assed novel.

Christian Bale proves to be perfect casting as serial killer Patrick Bateman. From his strange moonwalk during the Jared Leto murder sequence to his total willingness to run around naked with a chainsaw, his work is scary and funny. When I first saw this, I couldn't believe what the little kid from Empire of the Sun had grown up to become.

An excellent supporting cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Justin Theroux and Josh Lucas. Especially good is Willem Dafoe as a detective investigating the murders, employing an ambiguous interrogation style.

Special Features: This is far superior to the original DVD release with both Harron and screenwriter Guinevere Turner offering excellent commentary tracks that shed light on much of the film, especially the weird, hallucinogenic ending. From Book to Film provides excellent background on the making of the film, including an interesting recollection on how Leonardo DiCaprio almost wound up playing Bateman, with Oliver Stone in the director's chair.