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I Heart Huckabees: Two-Disc Special Edition

Fox Video
Movie A-
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8.5 (out of 10)

Writer-director David O. Russell concocted one of the more unusual films to ever confound a movie audience, a picture that is at once mind-bogglingly "deep" and oddly zany. Jason Schwartzman plays an activist who voluntarily submits to an investigation by two existential detectives (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin, who are absolutely terrific together). It's a movie that makes you think hard about the universe while shocking you with the horrid vision of Schwartzman breast-feeding off of Jude Law.

Last year saw some great ensemble casts, but this one was the best: Schwartzman, Hoffman, Tomlin, Law, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg and Isabelle Huppert all safely occupy the same film. Law and Watts, as two shallow figures whose rivers run a little deeper than they even know, are comic wonders. Law, as a corporate lackey who disrupts Schwartzman's environmentalist missions, fashions a smug American accent that is perfection. Watts, as the model for the Wal Mart-like Huckabees department store, shows that she is an actress of incredible range and possibilities. It's her first comedy, and she is fully up to the task.

Of all the great performances, it is actually Wahlberg who scores the greatest masterstroke, as a fireman who refuses to ride in the truck because it burns too much fuel. His combination of sensitivity and rage represents one of the more daring acting choices of the last 20 years. The moment of catharsis between him and Watts after a small house fire is the film's best moment. It's just wrong that he was passed over for an Oscar nomination.

David O. Russell doesn't get the recognition he deserves. Three Kings, Flirting With Disaster and Huckabees represent some of the more daring, maverick film projects of the last quarter-century. Huckabees is the sort of risk-type filmmaking that perhaps doesn't pay off immediately, but its introduction to home video should give it new, deserved life. It's a funny, intelligent, bizarre film that will leave you asking many questions of yourself and your local mega-chain department store.

It should also be noted that Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchock's The Birds, delivers the line "Fuck him!" with style. Good to see her on the screen again.

Special Features: This two disc set is an example of supplements that actually enhance the film watching experience. The commentaries with the likes of Russell, Wahlberg, Watts and Schwartzman are as intelligent as the film they are watching. A behind-the-scenes diary shows just how nutty a set presence Dustin Hoffman really is. It reveals what appears to have been an unusual work atmosphere that served the picture well. You also get full versions of the commercials Watts' character made for Huckabees, and being that she is often scantily clad, that's a good thing for fans. Watts is on the telephone for her short audio commentary, Aussie accent in full blast. Too cool.

The Brady Bunch: The Complete First Season

Paramount Video
Show B- (fluctuates with each episode)
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 5.5 (out of 10)

Thanks to sick days when I was a kid, I am a Brady Bunch connoisseur. Days spent home from school faking colds and whatnot resulted in many hours viewing the Bunch and Gilligan's Island. Both are regarded as two of the worst television shows ever created, symbols of the decline of Western civilization, but they are near and dear to my heart despite their wretchedness. The first season saw Mike Brady (Robert Reed) and Carol (Florence Henderson) getting hitched in the first episode and uniting their precocious tykes in the now-infamous living situation. Season faves include "The Hero," where Peter gets all cocksure after saving some little girl from being crushed, and "Tiger! Tiger!," where the family dog goes missing. Along with the first season of the Brady Bunch, I got a copy of The Brady Bunch in the White House in the mail. That film is, indeed, a sign that the ultimate decline of Western civilization is fully engaged.

Special Features: The featurette The Brady Bunch-Coming Together Under One Roof features creator Sherwood Schwartz waxing poetic on everything Brady. Cast members Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Susan Olsen also participate, providing funny commentary for select episodes.

Sealab 2021: Season Two

Warner Brothers
Show B-
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

While this is my least-favorite of the super-weird-assed Adult Swim cartoons, I still get a kick out of it. A strange crew that includes Erik Estrada lives under the sea and basically does nothing of substance. As for season two, I would have to state my favorite episode as "Hail, Squishface," where white globs reproduce Gremlins-style and fart profusely. One must shut their brain off to view this one, for it is as stupid as they come. Stupid is good sometimes, but not always, so be careful.

Special Features: Uninteresting commentaries on every episode, and a host of features that boast poor production value. For fans only.

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