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Jackass: The Box Set

Paramount Home Video
Show B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

If you can handle a man eating the raw contents of an omelet, vomiting them back up into a hot skillet, then having himself a rather horrifying breakfast, this is for you. A collection of Johnny Knoxville and company's disgusting and hilarious antics, this will provide hours of laughter this holiday season for those who find this sort of thing funny.

Surely Knoxville has taken a few years off of his life with some of the stunts performed on his short-lived series. (The show wasn't cancelled; Knoxville simply walked away because he didn't want to do it anymore.) The very first segment on this three-disc set has him entering a filled-to-the-brim portable toilet as it is turned upside down, dumping all sorts of vile product on his being. Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera and Chris Pontius (Party Boy!) subject themselves to alligator wrestling, puking up live goldfish, shit diving (animal and human) and bull riding ... and none of them die!

They said they would never do it again, but Paramount Pictures has asked Knoxville and company to start hurting themselves again, with hopes of a Jackass II movie in 2006. Stay tuned.

Special Features: There's lots of commentary, albeit very drunken commentary, to be had. Nothing can really be understood with the boys rambling, but it's cool to hear them having a good time. A "Where Are They Now?"-type documentary is rather funny, with Steve-O's mouth full of pearly white new teeth. Best of all is some footage of Knoxville stinking drunk and pissing his pants in a hotel hallway, threatening to kill anybody who approaches him. Entertainment at its most sophisticated!

Radiohead: The Astoria London Live

Show A
Special Features You get nothing!
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

This concert DVD goes back 11 years, before the band released OK Computer and achieved megastardom. Most of the tracks come from their first two albums (Pablo Honey and The Bends), and the concert is a must-see for fans. Lead singer Thom Yorke looks a little strange with his blond hairdo, but he sounds as fierce as he did on the band's latest tour supporting Hail to the Thief. Highlights include wrenching performances of "Stop Whispering" and "Fake Plastic Trees," two of the best songs in their library. The band is currently in the studio, with an album due for release next year.

War of the Worlds

Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Movie A
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

This badass alien invasion movie is still one of the best films of the year. Getting on Steven Spielberg's case for the movie's "happy ending" seems a bit nuts considering that the movie has one of the highest body counts in film history.

Tom Cruise delivers one of his best performances as a semi-negligent dad who must rise to the occasion and protect his children (including a terrific Dakota Fanning) from an alien invasion. The Tripods, large, mechanical monstrosities that aliens use to vaporize us and mulch our bodies, are one of the year's greatest special-effects creations. The scene where one of them first appears remains the year's scariest.

It's pretty funny how people have tried to apply logic to all aspects of this movie rather than enjoying the ride. The movie is top-notch entertainment, and a nice comeback for Spielberg after his dreadful The Terminal.

Special Features: Plenty of production documentaries, including a good one about the creation of the Tripods, and docs dealing with the legacy of author H.G. Wells and the controversial radio broadcast of the story by Orson Welles.

King Kong

Paramount Home Video
Movie B-
Special Features Nuthin!
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

The first remake of King Kong is getting knocked around a lot these days. In '76, when this film arrived after the phenomenon that was Jaws, this movie was a lot of fun, and warranted multiple movie-house visits.

Notorious for the mechanical, life-sized Kong that Carlo Rambaldi constructed for the movie, the robot Kong only appears for a few seconds during the big gorilla's New York debut. The robot was filmed from a good mile or two away so its major flaws wouldn't be noticed, but the masking attempt fails. The mechanical Kong looked awful, cost producer Dino De Laurentiis a whole lot of money and nearly destroyed the production.

Then makeup artist Rick Baker put on a monkey suit and pretty much saved the movie. His Kong is rather expressive and, apart from a few moments that look Japanese monster-movie fake, the mask is pretty decent achievement. The final moments on top of the Twin Towers are bloodier than I remembered (Kong spurts blood, Peckinpah-style!) and his beating heart coming to a stop is actually sort of moving. OK, the movie is a little goofy, but it's still fun, and doesn't deserve all the harassment it has withstood, even if it does have Charles Grodin as its bad guy.

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