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Winter Passing

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Movie C+
Special Features D
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

It's easy to see why this one didn't get much of a theatrical release; it's not very good. Despite a cast that includes Will Ferrell, Ed Harris and the always amusing Zooey Deschanel, the story never really ignites.

Deschanel plays Reese, a depressed New York City actress with a reclusive author dad, Don Holdin (Harris in a distracting wig). A publishing company offers her a bucket of money to retrieve some of her dad's letters. Reese heads home to find the letters and reunite with her mourning father.

Ferrell, in his first major dramatic role, plays Corbit, a drifter living in Don's house. His performance is one note and muted, mildly amusing in spots, but not some of his best work. His big finale, where he performs an Eagles song on karaoke night, isn't as funny as director Adam Rapp would like us to believe.

The film has an eccentric tone that is a tad uneven. There are some funny touches (Harris and Ferrell practice their golf drives in an enclosed former bedroom, complete with protective body armor). The film deals with a lot of misery, trying to offset the sad stuff with humor. It never finds a balance.

It's not a terrible effort, but not worthy of its cast. It does have Deschanel singing on its soundtrack, so that's a plus. Love her voice.

Special Features: Just a short behind-the-scenes featurette. Seems the studio didn't want to put too much behind this one--probably a good thing.

The Poseidon Adventure: Special Edition

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Movie B+
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

Damn, did I love this movie when I was a kid. When my father first told me that Ernest Borgnine (a childhood hero of mine ... it's true) was in a film about an ocean liner getting capsized by a big-assed wave, I made it a mission to see it. I finally caught it on TV (this was before VHS) and was mesmerized.

A cast of greatness is sailing on a big boat called the Poseidon for New Year's Eve. During "Auld Lang Syne," a massive wave kicks the boat's ass, turns it upside down, and kills a bunch. The survivors must travel to the bottom of the boat (now the top, given its upside-down state) and get out before it pulls a Titanic and sinks to the bottom of the sea.

Irwin Allen's disaster flick is totally implausible, but who gives a crap? This is schlock moviemaking at its best. It has Gene Hackman as a troubled preacher (his final scene kicks ass), the dude from Chico and the Man as one of its passengers and Shelley Winters as his wife. Borgnine, who seemingly died in every film he frequented in the '70s, actually survived this one.

The movie is being remade by Wolfgang Petersen (a testament to its coolness), being released in theaters this week.

Special Features: A double disc offering with boatloads of special features. In The Cast Looks Back, much of the supporting cast (including Red Buttons, Pamela Sue Martin and the late Roddy McDowall) talk about the experience. There are two commentaries, including a brand-new one with some cast members. There's also a feature dedicated specifically to that great stunt where a man fell through a glass window (it was an actor, not a stuntman, who performed the drop). The production value of the special features are a little lackluster (including some truly bad soundtrack music), but they are still fun to watch.

Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Movie A-
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

I reviewed this film when the first DVD edition came out in 2004. I'm upping the movie grade because, heck, it's better than the B that I originally gave it. It's a movie that grows funnier with each viewing. Jon Heder, although not quite good in his latest (The Benchwarmers), was killer here, as was the cast surrounding him.

The story of a high school nerd possessing sweet dance moves and a penchant for saying "Gosh!" did rather well with its original DVD, so, naturally, it's getting a second treatment. My favorite character, besides Dynamite, would have to be Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), who tapes himself throwing footballs at his camera and tries to travel through time. His attempts to sell herbal breast-enhancement pills are also quite amusing.

Something I didn't know the first time I watched the film: Summer Wheatly was played by Hilary Duff's sister. Gosh!

Special Features: A two-disc serving of Napoleon that retains the original DVD's features, and then adds a bunch more. There's a second commentary and a fun documentary where we get to see Heder talking in his normal voice whilst in his Napoleon getup. There are deleted scenes, "Napoleon Sightings" including a segment from Heder's stint hosting Saturday Night Live, and audition videos. If you have the first disc, this one renders it pretty much worthless.

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